To borrow from the great Sherlock Holmes, it is the curious case of a watchdog that should have barked, but for some reason hasn’t.
As many of you know, on July 1 the process of renewing your Georgia driver’s license became much more complicated and time-consuming, requiring among other things an official copy of your birth certificate, an official Social Security card and, if you’re a married woman, a copy of your marriage license to justify use of your married name rather than your birth name.
Digging up all that material can be a real chore — personally, I haven’t seen my Social Security card in years if not decades. And once you’ve gathered it all, you then have to run the gauntlet at the overwhelmed Department of Driver Services, where waits of four or five hours have become common. People are getting angry about the situation, and for good reason.
But here’s the thing: The changes aren’t Georgia’s idea, and in fact have been forced upon the state by new federal regulations. So why haven’t we heard state elected officials blaming the feds for “shoving this change down Georgia’s throat”? Why aren’t they deflecting public anger over long lines by redirecting it at Washington, which in truth is causing the problem in the first place?
It would be so easy, even a liberal could do it. You mention the Tenth Amendment, states’ rights and federal overregulation, then close with the fact that dictating how states issue driver’s licenses is not a power enumerated by the Constitution. Voila! Instant poutrage!
As it turns out, however, Gov. Nathan Deal has a very good reason for staying silent on the matter. Back in 2005, when the federal legislation in question was being passed into law, then U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal co-sponsored the measure.
And Republicans in general are muting their usual complaints because the REAL ID bill was a GOP initiative, part of their effort to prove that no measure was too extreme or intrusive if it could be excused as a counter-terror measure. In the House, for example, Republicans voted 219-8 in favor of the requirement, while Democrats voted 42-152 against it.
In other words, as Holmes so wisely surmised, the dog doesn’t bark at its own master.
– Jay Bookman