Opinion

Who are the real 'extremists' in today's America?

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Conservatism,Liberalism,Constitution

Imagine a Fourth of July tradition like Hollywood's where each year the Oscars pay homage to fallen stars.

Liberty-loving Americans would fete public servants who’ve honored Thomas Jefferson’s rule to "leave no authority existing not responsible to the people."

Might celebrating trustworthy public stewards inspire Americans to rediscover our founders’ insights, ingraining a culture that prizes democratic accountability and lawful government, the one that transformed our risky political experiment into history’s freest and most prosperous society?

We'd be celebrating two recently passed stalwarts who put country and constitutional order before party: Sen. Howard Baker, the Watergate committee's ranking Republican who famously asked “what did the president know and when did he know it,” and Johnnie Walters, the IRS commissioner who refused to target President Richard Nixon's “enemies list.”

Like our Founders, Baker and Walters understood that where equality under the law goes, so goes freedom. Therefore, the greatest threat to civil society and human potential is a powerful, deceitful and unaccountable government where the few rule the many.

That’s why the Founders designed a liberty-preserving system that fragmented and checked government power among equal, competing branches, conferring ultimate authority upon citizens — not our representatives.

Respectful of Jefferson’s rule, unlike many in today’s “ruling elite,” it’s doubtful Baker or Walters would stomach the IRS targeting Americans for their political beliefs, or the evaporation of email evidence critical to a congressional investigation, which are called “a conspiracy theory” by Obama administration.

Journalistic sleuths Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein knew that government accountability derives from an independent media and an informed citizenry.

Comparing the IRS and Benghazi scandals to Watergate in a CNN interview, they criticized the media for abandoning its constitutionally protected watchdog role, appearing instead to protect the government from Americans.

Public servants may arrive eager to drain Washington's cesspool, but, after harnessing governmental power and dispensing money and favors, they too often discover it's a hot tub made inviting by politicians, bureaucrats, public-sector unions, lobbyists, donors, and the media.

Our greatest challenge — and the biggest threat to the world’s oldest (and shortest) constitution — isn’t a Left versus Right tug-of-war, but a struggle to wrest power away from those who collude at the citizens’ expense.

Incentivized to invest in influence instead of innovation, Big Business (currently enjoying record profits) can buy access to trillions of dollars worth of spending, tax and regulatory favors.

The result is a heavily indebted citizenry and a stagnant economy warped by cronyism, as evidenced by the 2.9 percent plunge in first-quarter U.S. GDP -- the worst non-recession contraction in more than 40 years.

Not surprisingly, the small-business sector that accounts for two-thirds of net-new job creation is suffering as “business deaths now exceed business births for the first time in the 30-plus-year history of our data,” according to a new Brookings Institution report on declining business dynamism.

While Wall Street and Washington boom, the rest of America suffers crisis levels of income stagnation, underemployment, economic immobility and government dependency, with a record 50 million living in poverty.

Yet, as the American Dream slips beyond reach for ordinary citizens, those who oppose the ruling elite are labeled extremists, proving George Orwell’s adage that “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”

Consider last month's Mississippi Republican Senate run-off that spoilsman Thad Cochran narrowly won, thanks to crony donations and promises to keep the gravy train running, unlike his “extremist” opponent, State Sen. Chris McDaniel.

But who are now the extremists? Those who advocate free markets, equality under the law, fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, in God we trust, and peace through strength - the campaign platform of Dave Brat, Majority Leader Eric Cantor's vanquisher - or the ruling elite who subvert these guiding principles?

Though Americans clamor for law, order and security on our southern border, slack immigration-law enforcement has accelerated unlawful migration.

Exacerbating the lawlessness are lawmakers like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who called the deluge of illegal immigrants an “opportunity.”

Unfortunately, the opportunity is at the expense of working Americans, considering all employment growth since 2000 went to immigrants (legal and illegal), according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Meanwhile, with Congress requiring border security prior to any amnesty, President Obama intends to act alone, as he did in 2012 when he indefinitely suspended deportations of 550,000 alien youths, granting them work permits.

Commenting on Obama's intentions following12 unanimous Supreme Court rebukes for federal-power over-reach, constitutional law professor and Obama-voter Jonathan Turley explained, that the president "can't say the solution to gridlock is you simply have to resolve it on my terms.”

Having overthrown King George’s arbitrary rule, our Founders established an America of, by, and for the people – not ruling elites — stipulating that presidents “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Wouldn’t a shared allegiance to constitutional order be the best way to realize a more perfect union, for “ourselves and our posterity?”

Examiner contributor Melanie Sturm is an opinion columnist for the Aspen Times.
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