While speaking at a commencement ceremony in Ohio, President Obama stated that college graduate and young people should disregard any “voices” that constantly warn against government tyranny.
“The voices”, according to the president, say that government is a source of tyranny and bad things. That “tyranny lurks just around the corner.” The president urges his audience to reject these “voices,” because accepting that tyranny is possible means that our experiment in self rule is just a sham and that people can’t be trusted.
The the president expresses in this speech illustrates his utter ignorance of America’s founding and the very points of federalism, divided government, checks and balances on power, and the concept of natural rights–those given to men and women because we are born, not because some government grants them to us.
In Federalist No. 51, James Madison writes, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But men are not angels. In this line, he acknowledges that some government is necessary. But he goes on to write, “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” But angels do not govern the affairs of men, nor are they working in modern government. Thus government power must be controlled.
The president implies that those who fear government tyranny and speak their concerns seek only to “gum up the works” to getting things like gun control, government healthcare, and other legislative agenda items pushed through Congress.
Perhaps the president fails to recognize what tyranny is, we are glad to help him out.
Government (at all levels, not just federal) has engaged in a variety of oppressive behavior in the last few years. Examples abound such as banning the sale of sodas of an arbitrary size, banning legal gun owners from having or purchasing guns with more than 7, 10, or more bullets in an ammunition magazine. The government enacted a mono-partisan take over of healthcare, passing a law of approximately 2,000 pages with so many fill in the blanks for the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the federal bureaucracy that the current count of regulations issued to fill in the legislative blanks stands at nearly 20,000 pages, a tower of paper more than 7 feet tall. The president has, despite taking an oath to the contrary, arbitrarily selected what federal laws he will enforce and which he will not.
The president signed a law authorizing the indefinite detention of US citizens without trial and without right of judicial review. His Department of Homeland Security has amassed more deadly hollow point ammunition at a rate faster than used by the US military in conducting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His Department of Justice is involved in an illegal gun running scandal that resulted in Mexican drug cartels obtaining weapons which were used to murder a US ATF agent and Mexican citizens. Instead of submitting to Congressional oversight, the White House asserted executive privilege to avoid having to answer for its bad acts.
Finally, the US government has recently involved itself in a number of warrant-less, paramilitary raids on American businesses for trumped up charges (The Gibson Guitar factory raid is just one of several examples). While no actual wrongdoing is found, the government refuses to file charges, return seized property, or allow a judicial hearing on the actions that took place.
The examples above do not inspire confidence that government is a merely a benevolent, nurturing force for good. Despite the president’s urging to the contrary, government and the intention of individuals running it are not always noble or pure. And that is why the entire framework of setting up the federal government is one that restricts its powers. The federal government is granted power by the Constitution via enumerated powers–those specifically given to it. Those powers not granted are reserved to the states or to the people. No matter what politicians benevolently promise, that’s how the system should remain.