The main front for Americans trying to keep our government bound by some reasonable limits has been health care. And with good reason: The Democrats’ health plan would reorganize a giant swath of the economy and could be a tipping point for the size, scope and power of the federal bureaucracy.
But there are other examples of “feds know best” — and not only Democrats are guilty. Here are three from this week’s headlines.
First were the White House’s continuing attacks on Fox News. “Not really a news station” is how it was put by White House adviser David Axelrod, who is fast becoming exactly the kind of figure the left hated in Karl Rove.
It’s telling that the Obama administration hasn’t marshaled any evidence for its claim beyond pointing to the shows of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, which are expressly opinion content. This is just as absurd as saying the Washington Post isn’t a news organization because it publishes opinion columns by Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne.
Worse, though, is that the president’s top advisers think it’s their place to try to undermine any news organization.
Fighting back against specific stories or giving greater access to particular news outlets is fair game. But trying to sink a contrarian news organization’s credibility is wholly inappropriate for an administration that is supposed to enforce the nation’s laws, including, last I checked, the First Amendment.
It wouldn’t even matter if Fox News were broadcasting falsehoods 100 percent of the time, which of course it isn’t. It is no more the government’s place to decree, even rhetorically, the illegitimacy of a particular news outlet than it would be to announce that one religious belief is less true than another. Only a government unconcerned about limits on its own power and role would think otherwise.
Second was a story that dates back a couple of months but got national attention this week. The citizens of Kinston, N.C., voted in November by a 2-to-1 margin to make local elections nonpartisan. The U.S. Justice Department reviewed the change pursuant to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Not only did Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King rule in August that African-Americans were a minority in Kinston, a city where the population is estimated to be two-thirds black and where blacks represent 65 percent of registered voters. She rejected the referendum result on the grounds that whites would only vote for black candidates if they ran as Democrats.
Again, the most appalling thing here is not the sheer partisanship, nor the fact that King’s justifications pass for logic and justice in today’s Washington. It’s that an unelected bureaucrat would twist the facts of a case and overrule a voter decision that didn’t suit her. Only a government unconcerned with the limits on its own power and role would do such a thing.
Finally, there was the request by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch that the Obama administration look into college football’s Bowl Championship Series for possible antitrust violations. Hatch’s state is home to two schools, the University of Utah and BYU, whose conference champions aren’t guaranteed a spot in the lucrative BCS games.
But this is a situation that the market — here, the major football leagues and TV networks — has been addressing in recent years. Must the government be involved in every conflict? Do even self-professed conservatives like Hatch now subscribe to this idea?
It is the pervasiveness of the big-government mentality that is producing a backlash. It is about more than the big issues or partisanship. The movement against it has too much motivation to do anything but keep moving.