By now, you likely know I lean to the right – and it has nothing to do with the slope I'm standing on. During recent meetings with farmers, I’ve seen a growing negative reaction in just about all I meet when the word "Obama" arises.
Rural people have a right to be frustrated with federal government intervention into their lives, and it has clearly ramped up with the current administration. After all, most are smart business persons. Otherwise they wouldn't be in farming.
You know that you're responsible for what happens in your business. Buck-passing stops with you. So it’s natural to resent increasing governance by those who dole out other people's money without balancing the checkbook, and often to those who pay no taxes.
Last week, for example, a prominent farm marketer anguished over coming food safety regulations that would require keeping all animals out of his fields. "What am I to do about deer?" he asked. "I can't afford to fence them out!"
"I've got the answer," I teased. "Do an 'Obama'! If you're asked about it by an inspector or certifier, just say: 'My staff didn't inform me that we have a problem."
You know exactly how that would go over if you were anyone other than the President of the United States. Political analysts have a term for President Obama's answer – implausible deniability.
The rising outrage stems from a fast-spreading perception that America is losing its freedoms due to our government's expanding caretaker/regulator role. It's shared by urbanites steeped in history's lessons. As long as that anger doesn't turn violent, its justified.
More than one of our nation's founders warned us about what's happening today. President George Washington put it well: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master.”
Uncle Sam was established with counterbalancing checks and balances to limit the power of any one branch of government. However, those not respecting constitutional integrity will try to find ways circumvent it. That's politics, as some would argue.
That may be true. However, world history is filled with horrible lessons of what happens when citizens blindly trust national leaders or abrogate their responsibilities. We have reason to fear.
The IRS bias against conservative groups and leniency favoring liberal groups smacks of political motivation, and is just the latest reason. While news media attention has focused on 501c4 organizations, even Christian groups not involved in political action in any way have also been targeted during the last four years with increased scrutiny and "hoops" to jump through to maintain status.
I know this, first-hand. The IRS has ratcheted up demands on how every donated dollar is spent and who donated those dollars. Again, these are service organizations with absolutely no political involvement. And it's scary, particularly when liberal-leaning IRS has you on one of its lists -- and it's the agency designated to manage Obamacare.
Germany was controlled by such fear, as I was told several years ago by the president of a German manufacturing company -- with tears in his eyes! Dietrich Bonhoeffer repeatedly warned the German populace about blind trust as Hitler came to power. By the time Germany's citizens realized what was happening, it was too late. In 1945, this outspoken Lutheran pastor and theologian was executed.
Thomas Jefferson knew the dangers of too much governance: “Were the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.” My point: No one should blindly trust "the government". We, as citizens, are responsible to govern government. This is why we're seeing more interest in conservative movements, even local militias.
Greater danger ahead
If news media studies are any indication, we're rapidly becoming a nation of uninformed citizens and voters. A 2012 Scarborough poll found that more than 70% of young adults (ages 18 to 34) have no daily exposure to newspapers, electronic editions or website news – compared to just 45% for adults 55 and over.
Some 39% of young adults catch no paper or website news in a given month. How can they have informed opinions without valid information to base it on? Yes, they have smart phones. But do they read balanced news coverage and analysis on Twitter? No wonder most voters see only the cosmetic image of candidates, not what they do.
There's little to stop these trends, short of Uncle Sam's retreat. But there's one thing you can do: Train up your next generations to study history and learn to think beyond what they're told. They are our nation's best hope for survival as a democratic republic.
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