It creeps. It crawls. It eats you alive. It’s a mass that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Will it be stopped before it destroys everything in its path?
These words borrowed from the 1958 kitschy horror film, “The Blob,” originally were used to describe a shapeless mass that consumed everyone and everything. I’m using them to describe what has become of the federal government. The more it destroys, the bigger it gets, and then the more it destroys.
While it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek to liken the federal government to a tumescent oozing mass, the visceral response from the public is the same. As we see President Obama’s poll numbers plummet, even among Democrats, we know people are running scared. They sense something is destroying their way of life, yet they can’t exactly define what it is.
Generally, people are unhappy with and even angered by how intrusive the federal government has become, yet they can’t precisely pinpoint the threat. We’ve long ago strayed from our constitutional roots and now it’s hard to articulate how they are being violated.
The Constitution’s framers understood that to preserve our freedoms, the federal government must exist in a limited role. The power of the federal government, for the most part, is to be limited to national defense, building and maintaining infrastructure and regulating interstate commerce. And that’s it.
The 10th Amendment states that the powers not clearly spelled out in the U.S. Constitution belong to the states or to the people, not to the federal government. The more local, the more accountable. Today, people are feeling the suffocation of a bloated federal government that has little accountability to the public.
Our nation’s Founders understood that some freedoms are greater than others.
Your right to life is greater than someone else’s right to drive recklessly, no matter how much fun it may be for that person. Your right to private property is greater than someone else’s right to freely express himself by painting on your house. If a deadly airborne virus broke out, those inflicted with the virus can be temporarily quarantined to protect the right to life of the general public.
The bottom line: Sometimes a lesser freedom must be sacrificed to protect and preserve a greater freedom. In my book “Troublemaker: Let’s Do What it Takes to Make America Great Again,” I describe this as the Freedom Food Chain. The greater freedom swallows the lesser freedom.
Yet what happens when the greater freedom is not so obvious? Is your right to a good night’s sleep greater or lesser than your neighbor’s right to listen to loud music at any time? What if someone’s right to a fair trial clashes with a reporter’s right to cover that trial?
Those who determine which freedoms are swallowed by others wield tremendous power and therefore must have the most transparency and accountability. America’s Founders understood the grave threat that would arise if the federal government had this much power over our daily lives.
Would you ever leave your wallet - and all of your cash and credit cards - with a random stranger? Or would you trust your belongings to your neighbor or friend, someone you can see everyday and hold liable if the trust were broken?
Our freedoms are much more valuable than anything a random stranger can steal. Why on earth would we give our federal representatives the power to take away our freedoms when, in reality, they have little accountability to their constituents?
Accountability maintains the delicate balance of the Freedom Food Chain. It is the fulcrum that preserves law and order on both the state and local level. The power to determine which freedoms are greater and which are lesser must remain in local governments where there is the most accountability.
We see an example of the Freedom Food Chain gone amuck unfolding in Ferguson, Mo., right now. At the time of this writing, it is still unclear as to whether the police acted within their right to control a hostile crowd in order protect the safety of the general public, or whether they violated the rights of the peaceful protesters.
Who threw the first punch? Did the crowd abuse the right to assemble by getting unruly and inciting a riot? If so, their right to assemble was trumped to protect the safety of the public. Did the police use too much force and aggression when there was no clear threat of violence? If so, the police violated many of the protesters’ rights.
Either way, what’s unfolding in Ferguson is an example of the anarchy that erupts when the lesser links in the Freedom Food Chain swallow the greater links. Let’s hope and pray that order is restored quickly.