Guest Commentary / October 12, 2021

What’s Happening to Our Country?

Fundamentally changing the best country in the world is a really bad idea.

By Jack DeVine

The question comes up constantly in everyday conversation: “What’s happening to our country?” For many Americans, that’s becoming a very real concern — a nagging feeling we can’t shake, reinforced by episode after episode, that the life we know in the country we love is unravelling.

America is changing, in impactful ways, and not by accident. “Fundamental transformation,” pitched periodically by politicians as an aspirational goal, is coming to pass, like it or not.

For openers, I’d argue that fundamentally changing the best place on earth is a really dumb idea.

Right now, we’re being slammed by internal threats — a pandemic, illegal immigration, inflation, escalating violence, climate change, and others. They’re serious issues, and we have no choice but to deal with them. But our government’s increasingly heavy-handed way of doing so is compounding our problems and worrying many.

President Joe Biden’s emerging leadership style is to demand compliance, and then yell louder if his minions don’t jump to it. (I knew a few leaders in the U.S. Navy who subscribed to the same approach — it didn’t work for them either.) Democrats in Congress, with their barely detectible majority, are intent on jamming through legislation with zero input from the other side. And where legislative authority can’t be mustered, Biden’s executive orders fill the gap.

In fairness, this is nothing new — but it’s getting worse. Obama (quietly) and Trump (loudly) were both divisive leaders. Biden is following suit, but stuck with the most evenly divided Congress ever, he’s in a precarious position. Clearly, this is the time for compromise. Instead, Biden charges on as if he were presiding with an electoral mandate and overwhelming public support. He has neither.

The current de facto operational model in the U.S. has the federal government on top calling all the shots, telling individuals what they can and cannot do. That’s upside down. We’re a bottoms-up country, by design a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Our founders knew that authoritarian federal control would be the death knell for the fledgling nation. In fact, the original 13 colonies would never have come together had our Constitution not specifically and unequivocally limited the power of the federal government and preserved the rights of states and individual citizens.

But that’s not the way we’re operating. A few examples:

Education. Parents have seen firsthand the ineffectiveness of remote learning, and they are becoming increasingly alarmed about LGBTQ and CRT content in school curricula and about mandated mask wear for young children. But when they challenge their local school boards on these matters, the U.S. attorney general likens them to domestic terrorists and promises to unleash the FBI. Astonishing.

Social Interaction. Government agencies and federally funded operations (including schools) dictate behaviors — even trivial ones such as use of prescribed pronouns — that effectively mandate public acceptance of biological fiction regarding gender. Most Americans know better.

Public Safety. In the name of social justice, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued consent decrees to several municipal police departments stipulating precisely how they must go about protecting the public. That same DOJ prosecutes and punishes those who participated even non-violently in a single event (January 6), while largely brushing off the far more extensive violence and destruction caused by racial justice protesters over many months.

Public Health. It should be no surprise that there is open resistance to a good thing (vaccination that provides demonstrable protection from a deadly disease) when our elected government forces private corporations to demand employee vaccination and fire any who do not comply.

Environment. Our federal government has decided what kind of automobiles American manufacturers may build and sell to the American consumers, regardless of what those consumers want and with evident disregard to the practical and financial implications of their dictates.

Entitlements. And there’s the reconciliation bill that Congress is intent on passing — a massive, multi-dimensional entitlements-plus program that will fundamentally change government’s role in the life of every American. We find out, for example, that it would require disclosure of all $600 or higher financial transactions between private citizens — big brother plugged into every bank account.

Every one of these issues has two sides. There are valid (even if debatable) reasons why our government might push in the directions it’s pushing. And yes, times change. But these are too much, too fast, with too much trendy wokeness and too little evident consideration of consequences.

We Americans are a feisty lot, weaned on the principle of liberty — and, thank God, stubbornly unwilling to let it go.

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