by J. D. Heyes
If the current state of politics in America has taught most of us anything, it is this: The United States is no longer governed by “citizen legislators” who serve a couple of terms out of civic duty and return to the private sector but rather a professional political class that has established itself as a sort of aristocracy, passing laws and making rules that apply to the masses but not to the governing elite.
That’s not simply this writer’s opinion, but a growing perception among many Americans and academics. In a recent column for USA Today, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, documents some of the most recent pushbacks by citizens and concerned citizen groups against several policy plans, government initiatives and laws passed or implemented by the federal government and some states.
The resistance is growing
“America’s ruling class has been experiencing more pushback than usual lately. It just might be a harbinger of things to come,” he writes. Consider:
America just says ‘no’ to national surveillance system. In mid-February, in response to widespread protests, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shelved plans (for now) to develop a national license plate database. Without any regard to the Fourth Amendment’s “probable cause” provision, DHS higher-ups, in approving such a plan, essentially presumed that every driving American is potentially guilty of something and, as such, should be monitored every time they leave their driveways.
Already, as Natural News has reported, police departments all over the country have begun using license plate scanners that are capable of instantly reading a vehicle’s plate and storing it in databases. Under this kind of system, which has not yet been successfully challenged in court, drivers have no expectation of privacy when they get in their cars, and it doesn’t matter that their plates have been scanned by a law enforcement entity, even though they had not done anything wrong.
DHS now wants to take these local systems nationwide, so it can build a database encompassing, theoretically, every car and truck on the road. So the department put out a request for such a system, which would enable “the federal government [to] track millions of peoples’ comings and goings just as it tracks data about every phone call we make,” Reynolds writes. But resistance to the plan ensued, and it was eventually withdrawn, with officials weakly explaining that it was all just a misunderstanding.
The FCC wants to monitor newsroom decision-making. Allegedly under the guise of ensuring that viewership of newspapers, television newsrooms and radio stations is racially diverse, the Federal Communications Commission floated a plan to “monitor” newsrooms. The agency’s “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN (pronounced “sin”), however, called for sending government officials to question editors and reporters about why they chose to run or broadcast certain stories — something media and non-media folks called Orwellian.
What’s more, how the study came about was mysterious. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai commented: “This has never been put to an FCC vote; it was just announced.”
Again, the program has been put on ice — but just for now.
A new, massive gun registration scheme in Connecticut is facing no shortage of resistance. As J.D. Tuccille reports: “Three years ago, the Connecticut legislature estimated there were 372,000 rifles in the state of the sort that might be classified as ‘assault weapons,’ and 2 million plus high-capacity magazines. … But by the close of registration at the end of 2013, state officials received around 50,000 applications for ‘assault weapon’ registrations, and 38,000 applications for magazines.”
Call this “Irish Democracy,” or what is known as passive resistance to government overreach. Still, editors at the Hartford Courant newspaper are demanding that state officials utilize background check records as a tool to prosecute residents who have not complied. But “the state doesn’t have the resources and it’s doubtful juries would convict ordinary, law-abiding people for failure to file some paperwork,” says Reynolds.
–And I’ll add this one: Obamacare. Perhaps the worst law and public policy in three generations, the Affordable Care Act continues to meet resistance from citizens and some lawmakers because of its growing negative impact on the nation’s healthcare delivery and insurance industries.
Reynolds observes: “Though people have taken to the streets from Egypt, to Ukraine, to Venezuela to Thailand, many have wondered whether Americans would ever resist the increasing encroachments on their freedom. I think they’ve begun.”
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