Politics

Dear Democrats and Republicans, Please Keep Tearing Down Your Government

Respect for the overall government is waning. Good.

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Joshua Roberts/REUTERS/Newscom

Anybody expecting respect for the overall government to survive current leadership unscathed is dreaming. And as somebody who considers government little more than a dangerous weapon in the hands of competing tribes of control freaks, all I can say is: More, please.

As I write, the GoFundMe campaign "dedicated to covering Pete's hefty–and growing–legal costs and his lost income" is well over $400,000, after initially seeking to raise $150,000 for disgraced former FBI agent Peter Strzok. That's quite a haul for a guy about whom an Inspector General's report (PDF) fretted, "we were concerned about text messages exchanged by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Special Counsel to the Deputy Director, that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations."

After the report, Page resigned and Strzok was recommended for a demotion and a 60-day suspension. Instead, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered his firing amidst much Twitter-based cheerleading from President Trump. The enhanced punishment, opponents of the administration charge, was every bit as politicized as Strzok's texts.

"The firing further unravels the line between partisan politics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's proper role as a nonpartisan criminal justice investigative arm," insists Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, who sheds no tears for Strzok himself.

It's little surprise, then, that Pew Research finds that Democrats approve of the FBI, which has been investigating the conduct of Trump and company when not sharing ill-considered text messages, while Republicans have lost their taste for the agency. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters "view the agency favorably, compared with 76% early last year," a recent survey found. But "the share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents with a positive view of the bureau has fallen 16 percentage points" from 65 percent to 49 percent.

Separately, Trump has been banging the immigration-control drums at a time when his own administration's Border Patrol data shows apprehensions of illegal immigrants along the Southwest border at their lowest in years. You have to go back to the 1970s to find fewer people scooped up trying to illegally enter the country. So why make a fuss now?

Probably because "[i]t will play well with his anti-immigrant base," as University of Arizona Professor Elizabeth Oglesby put it in April, "especially in an election year."

Immigration saber-rattling, including the separation of families by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), polls well with Trump's fans, but also provokes strong reactions from Trump opponents. That has them demanding not just policy changes and the abolition of ICE (a sensible goal with which many Reason writers agree), but also engaging in more heated responses, like doxing ICE personnel, soliciting assassination attempts, and promoting violent resistance.

It's no shocker that this, too, represents a partisan divide. "Nearly eight-in-ten conservative Republicans (77%) view ICE favorably," says Pew, while a "large majority of liberal Democrats (82%) view ICE unfavorably."

I've written before about the use of laws as partisan weapons. That's become increasingly easy in a country in which lifestyle and political preference increasingly correlate, and people have been sorting themselves accordingly.

"The separation here seeps into the micro level, down to the particular neighborhoods, schools, churches, restaurants and clubs that tend to attract one brand of partisan and repel the other," The Washington Post noted in 2016. That means laws can be used to punish political opponents by targeting their specific preferences, while leaving your own side relatively unscathed.

Agencies, too, can be used as partisan weapons, as we saw under the Obama administration when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was wielded as a bludgeon against conservative organizations with little consequence. Of course, the IRS has a long history of such abuse. "My father," Elliott Roosevelt said of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution." Now that abuse has spread to other areas of government.

But there are consequences to weaponizing law and government. "Now everyone, no matter what their political leanings, will wonder if they too are a political target by an out-of-control agency protected by the Justice Department," Investors Business Daily warned in 2015.

Just three years later, Americans support or vilify a growing number of government agencies depending on their partisan affiliations. Laws have become weapons, and agencies are seen as allies or enemies. That has serious consequences for public perception of the overall government within which those agencies operate. Just 18 percent of Americans "say they trust the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time," Pew polling found this year.

And "Americans still see big government as top threat" facing the country, Gallup continues to report, year after year.

There's no reason to believe that trust will rise or fear decline when people rightfully assume that a government bureau or department in the hands of political opponents will be used to reward friends and punish enemies.

Those of us wary of big, intrusive government have warned for years that the mainstream political tribes, left and right, Democrat and Republican, were creating a monster. That monster, with its surveillance, arbitrary and sometimes secretive enforcement mechanisms, impersonal bureaucracy, and intolerance of scrutiny, was dangerous, we warned. It would eventually strangle us all or force us to illegal resistance.

Team Red and Team Blue seem to have taken our warnings as "how-to" advice. Now they're gleefully proving every one of our warnings correct as they turn the monster they built against one another. For those of us who cautioned that this day would come, all we can do now is sit back and enjoy the show as those who created the problem now slash away at the legitimacy of their own government.

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76 responses to “Dear Democrats and Republicans, Please Keep Tearing Down Your Government

  1. I would like to think that Trump is giving pause to those that want to empower government further. But I doubt it.

    Some people are just offended that the “Right” person isn’t in the WH.

    1. He is not in any principled way. Leftists want a dictator. It just has to be their guy/gal.

      1. To be fair, it’s not just leftists who want a dictator. Many of those on the right do as well. Only libertarians seem to get it that the power is the problem, not who is wielding it.

      2. I think you could compromise the two cases thus: It just has to be their gull.

  2. Other than enforcing immigration law, how is Trump turning the monster government on the Democrats?

    1. Faith, alone

      1. I don’t know what you mean.

      2. And we all know how proof repudiates faith

    2. You don’t know? You don’t know?
      Rolling back EPA rules, net neutrality, Obamacare’s individual mandates, and a host of others, many addressed with existing administrative structures not expected to be wielded the way he and his staff have. 90 day review, 6 month review, apparatchik diktat, all the machinery erected over the years.

      And yes, I did just call Pruitt and Pai, among others, apparatchiks.
      Got a better term for offices with no constitutional grounding?

      1. So, rolling back regulations and making the government less powerful is “turning the giant government on the Democrats?”

        Yeah, and freedom is slavery. That is really all you are saying here. Making the government less powerful and destroying its regulatory authority may piss Democrats off, but it is not harming them or turning the government’s power against them. To say otherwise is just nuts.

        1. This is EXACTLY what they are saying. And this is the stance of Reason.

          Freedom is slavery.

          Not giving is stealing.

          Etc.

          1. Left – Right = 0

            They’ve taken the editorial stance of Hihn.

        2. John is correct. Trump gets called a fascist but no fascist every cut government power and taxes. And oddly enough he is appointing judges that would likely rule against his more outlandish comments regarding things he would like to do on his authority alone.

        3. John, that is precisely the point. Progressives see the righteous future only achievable through government edict (and force), so reducing this potential is a kick in the nuts/pussy/personal choice genital expression.

      2. I don’t see how those are attacking Democrats.

        Why should the EPA be allowed to make rules AT ALL? Shouldn’t Congress alone make those rules? EPA should refuse to enforce all vague regulations?

        Obama violated the law repeatedly with Obamacare.

        Net neutrality removal attacks…who?

        Don’t whine that he and his staff have used laws, as written, in a way you didn’t think they would. Those laws were there for a reason. Should’ve been used as they are now for a LONG time.

        1. The delegation of some part of Congress’ statute-making authority to the executive looks to me plainly unconstitutional; it violates Article I, Section 1: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” I emphasize the very first word of that passage.

          However, there is no denying that the Supreme Court has held the contrary. I do not believe that the Supreme Court is always right about the constitution. But I believe that (unless and until it reverses itself, and with possible exceptions in extreme circumstances that thank heaven have not arisen) it must be treated by lower courts as always right about the constitution.

          1. You mean “the”?

      3. Bureaucrats are being forced out of their phoney-baloney jobs?!

        No?

        Oh well, why screw up a perfectly good narrative. This aggression will not stand!

      4. > Got a better term for offices with no constitutional grounding?

        Maybe “Czars.” Oh…wait…that was what your guy called them from 2009-2016, so that must be ok.

    3. But Gorsuch.

    4. He is taking away their government toys, but somehow, to Reason, that is the same as using those toys.

      It is like when Democrats lose their mind over a loss of funding, saying that people are stealing from x group.

      1. > It is like when Democrats lose their mind over a loss of funding

        Hell, they lose their mind over lack of an annual increase.

      2. Reason has TDS. Even when Trump agrees with them they think he’s wrong.

    5. It’s 99% delusion. He talks shit, but he has been a far more disciplined and straight shooter in terms of abusing power compared to any recent presidents. The Libtards are just pant shitting because… Because… Uhhh… TRUMP IS HITLER!

      1. Everyone is pants-shitting, including Reason, because Trump has been taking away their toys of power and self-enrichment.

        Whatever Welch says, Reason is beholden to its Board of Directors. May be we don’t want to believe it, maybe Welch and the Reason staff don’t want to believe it, but there it is.

        1. Reason ever had “toys of power and self-enrichment”?

      2. That and Trump proves to Americans that government can be rolled back and cut and America will be better for it.

        The economy is doing great in spite of bloated government.

        Trump is letting his White House staff be transparent in spite of not being Constitutionally required to.

        Trump is not expanding our US Military actions much even though many past presidents did.

        ….

        1. > Trump is not expanding our US Military actions

          But he sure as hell is expanding their budget!

          1. He is doing that.

        2. “That and Trump proves to Americans that government can be rolled back and cut and America will be better for it.”

          That’s the thing. So many people think that the world will come tumbling down if all these pointless government agencies just ceased to exist. Like everybody would be getting killed by their milk or whatever if the man didn’t regulate it to death. All most people really need to see if these things getting killed, and life carrying on exactly as before, but with a lot lower government spending.

          If half of the fedgov stopped operating tomorrow, most people wouldn’t notice a damn thing happening. Yet we’d save hundreds of billions.

          1. If half of the fedgov stopped operating tomorrow, most people wouldn’t notice a damn thing happening. Yet we’d save hundreds of billions.

            And yet we would deprive our Merciful and Beneficent Overlords, Peach Be Upon Them, of their power to be merciful and beneficent. As both parties wallow in this power, neither of them will every really cut government.

            Years ago I knew a fellow who did a study on the spending patterns of Congresscritters. He expected to find that Republicans proposed more saving legislation and Democrats more spending. Turned out the parties had no difference between them. The only thing that mattered was how long they’d been in Congress: Those with tenure were net spenders and those who were new were net savers. But anyone who lives in the swamp long enough becomes a creature of the Black Lagoon.

          2. > All most people really need to see if these things getting killed, and life carrying on exactly as before, but with a lot lower government spending.

            That is the single greatest fear of progressives, Democrats, and even liberals.

            1. The biggest difference IMO is what they want to spend on. I think if Rs controlled 90% of the seats in every governing body in the USA, because popular support was that strong, they would cut the shit out of lots of stuff. Welfare, regulations, etc. They would probably jack spending on the military and other pet projects though. I think we’d see net savings though.

              The reason none of them have the balls to cut stuff is because they fear not being re-elected in moderate districts. So even if an R is in an area where he knows he can get away with cutting the whole FedGov down to size, and be loved for it, his compatriots in moderate districts will not go along for the ride… Hence it never happens.

              See The House for evidence of this. The House has voted for a lot of pretty radical stuff in recent years, the senate has been what has held back major reforms. I think it’s because lots of house districts are secure, but by its nature senate districts tend to be more evened out since they’re half a state at a time. Hence pussy moderates.

        3. Trump proves to Americans that government can be rolled back and cut and America will be better for it.

          I wish I could believe that were true, but he is doing exactly what each party usually does: It redeploys government in line with its priorities. But I don’t see Trump rolling back or cutting government. He is just spending money we don’t have on different things than his opponents would. But he isn’t cutting it and the tax cuts extend the problem that by reducing the apparent cost of government, it makes it easy to want more.

          I realize that paleo-cons seem to have taken over the commentariat here, but it takes a special brand of willful blindness to believe that Trump or the GOP have any real intention of rolling back government in a meaningful way. Tinkering around the edges and pushing one thing back while expanding another is not rolling it back.

          1. I think lots of people in congress are useless… But personally, I think Trump would sign off on massive cuts to lots of programs if it came across his desk. I wouldn’t say the same for previous R presidents.

            He still wants his bloated military budget, etc, but if congress could deliver I think Trump would cut most areas of government spending.

    6. You know why John. Enforcing immigration laws created by Congress equals anti-immigrant equals racist Nazi. To Reason, he may as well be Satan.

  3. Good. Too bad most people seem to be too dumb to get that the guvmint is ALWAYS bullshit, no matter if your tribe happens to be running it at the moment or not. When people figure that out we might actually begin to fix some things.

    1. I suspect government itself is socialism.

      “I want something, and this other guy says he’ll do the work so I don’t have to, all for the low, low price of everyone else paying for it.”

      Newton’s Third. There are no free lunches. We may have to suck it up and learn to deal with each other.

      1. Unless it is some other flavor of authoritarianism, then yes.

  4. Team Red and Team Blue seem to have taken our warnings as “how-to” advice. Now they’re gleefully proving every one of our warnings correct as they turn the monster they built against one another. For those of us who cautioned that this day would come, all we can do now is sit back and enjoy the show as those who created the problem now slash away at the legitimacy of their own government.

    Libertarians see it, as it has been our mantra forever. TEAM members will NEVER see government itself as the problem as they can blame their political opponents for the decline, propelling their side to “victory”

    Until the majority (vast majority?) of the voting population decides to value liberty above partisan politics, the decay will continue. Washington (politicians in general) are giving Americans EXACTLY what they ask for.

    1. Until the majority (vast majority?) of the voting population decides to value liberty above partisan politics, the decay will continue. Washington (politicians in general) are giving Americans EXACTLY what they ask for.

      Don’t expect to see this happen in my life time. As long as each side thinks themselves to be morally superior and the other to be worse than evil, they will continue to compete in a race to the bottom, eroding liberty for all along the way. The DeRps will keep trying to turn out more of their voters, leaving those of us who want less government little choice but to not vote at all. Unfortunately, the LP will never appeal to enough of team red or team blue to get anywhere.

      1. Dont be so sure. Libertarianism in the form of Classic Liberalism was very popular early in the history of the USA.

      2. Agree with both you guys, sadly I think Nick is right about team members. One positive note is that less people are identifying as such. Maybe if a Fauxcahotas gets in , attempts to control corporate actions and the S and P 500 all move to Ireland people might notice. Most of the drones are happy having a nice phone to watch cat GIF’s (Earl Butz’s referencing loose shoes, tight pussy and a warm place to shit comes to mind) and are too fucking lazy to follow the bullshit Fedgov is up to. It will take something BIG to wake them up. I’m not holding my breath.

      3. Worse: what both sides believe in is the righteous belief that they have a mandate (womandate?) to force their vision on the rest.

  5. The enhanced punishment, opponents of the administration charge, was every bit as politicized as Strzok’s texts.

    I’m an opponent of this administration, but this claim is absurd. The only reason it’s being entertained is precedent – we’re so used to highly placed government officials being immune to punitive action. Among other things:

    1. He cheated on his wife with another FBI employee

    2. Having an affair made him vulnerable to foreign intel efforts, an embarrassing fact for the FBI given he was basically running counter intel for them

    3. He indicated intent to fraudulently swing a Presidential election

    5. He was slammed by the OIG for creating the appearance of bias in extremely high profile investigations. In fact,

    6. The OIG referred him for investigation

    7. As a result, he lost his clearance (think about that for 2 seconds – how is someone in counter intel going to be able to do their job, not to mention the fact that this alone is terminable offense)

    8. He embarrassed his employer and potentially destroyed its credibility

    9. He intentionally omitted the fact that the FBI’s FISA application was based on a dossier from a discredited source (oopsie!)

    1. Heheh, sorry about the numbering.

      1. No worries. It was a good list.

        Dont forget, Loretta Lynch was the Attorney General. Comey was in charge of the FBI. Strzok was in charge of counter intel in the FBI. Senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr contacted a British spy about trying to influence the election against Trump. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election. Fusion GPS was hired by Hillary’s campaign.

        All these people knew or should have known what was going on.

        1. Of course they knew. They just never thought that we would know.

          1. I honestly thin the madder these ex-government people like Strzok, Brennan, and Comey get the more corrupt stuff they know. Their anger is that the People are getting closer and closer to finding out about the details.

            Brennan considers Trump a traitor to the Deep state. The Deep state is not really concerned with the Constitution.

  6. Well done, J.D.

    1. Too chilly is increasingly coming off as bitter and angry. And I love him for that. I hope he continues.

  7. For those of us who cautioned that this day would come, all we can do now is sit back and enjoy the show as those who created the problem now slash away at the legitimacy of their own government.

    And try not to get caught in the crossfire, something that’s becoming more and more difficult to do.

  8. Good article. Every LP spoiler vote counts at least six times the law-changing clout of a vote wasted on the ordure-flinging looter cleptocracy.

  9. J.D.’s explicit glee seems to be based on one of two sophomoric assumptions that partisan, tribal warfare will lead either to A) a change in government size and/or scope of intrusion, or B) a spectacle enjoyable enough (to him!) to justify the havoc created by that warfare. Assumption A is ludicrous and fantastical, and assumption B is worse than juvenile –it is vicious.
    While he cheers and jeers the rest of us would do well to ignore him and find a more mature and practical way to engage in an obviously rancorous and chaotic political morass. There is no way out but through, and sideline snickering – his option – is not an answer.

    1. Ah, a new statist dick smoker…..DU is that way>>>>>>>>

  10. Government respect started waning right around 1776.

  11. Excellent news.

    Now cut the federal government by 98% and be sure to abolish the IRS.

  12. You write: “But there are consequences to weaponizing law and government. “Now everyone, no matter what their political leanings, will wonder if they too are a political target by an out-of-control agency protected by the Justice Department,” Investors Business Daily warned in 2015.

    In 2015, Obama was president. Unless you have forgotten in your zeal as a “Never-Trumper”, this remark (a quote) denies the credibility of your whole article.

  13. While I, too, welcome a reduction in size and power of government, I believe much of the anger today is not about government as it is disdain for those of the opposite party. If you are angry with the FBI then I like them. If you support ICE then I hate ICE. Anything to oppose the other party. Unfortunately, I think The Swamp will emerge from this period stronger and less accountable than before.

  14. “But there are consequences to weaponizing law and government. “Now everyone, no matter what their political leanings, will wonder if they too are a political target by an out-of-control agency protected by the Justice Department,” Investors Business Daily warned in 2015.”

    Both parties need to reflect carefully, perhaps deeply on that saw: “What goes around comes around.” Weaponizing government is something that will come back and bite you right in the rear when you least expect it. Play with it and you are playing with fire.

    1. Never have and never will in either case. It’s why we can only hope they both eventually implode.

    2. Well, I think the left has always planned to simply permanently take the helm, hence never have to give back the reigns of power. They figured Hillary was in for sure, then a second term, and by then demographics would make it impossible for another right of center president to ever be elected again.

      The thing that terrifies me is that their demographic projections are 100% correct… Unless there is a MASSIVE swing in minority voting patterns, which I don’t see happening, Texas will be a blue state in under 10 years. Several other states are also on the edge. So Trump may get a second term, and MAYBE even another center-right person could narrowly win in 2024… But after that there is potentially no way to win the electoral college ever again.

      Utopian libertarians can babble all they want about open borders, but it is a fact that not one single ethnic group other than white people has ever voted conservative/libertarian. I prefer libertarian leaning policies on most things, but the fact is that progressives and conservatives fighting each other tooth and nail is the only reason things haven’t got a lot worse already. Libertarians aren’t sweeping the nation anytime soon. So if the left does get things on lockdown thanks to demographics, we’re fucked.

      1. The antidote to leftie voting practices is prosperity. Give people something to lose they built and they will protect it.

        And that’s why the left is trying to ruin the economy, and why traitor Obama tried to kill the recovery.

  15. The Dems and Repubs are using the government to wage war on each other, invoking law enforcement, criminal prosecutions, etc. Be careful of wishing for more of that. Trump and the Left are breeding violent confrontation.

  16. Our government is totally corrupt and this author blames Trump for trying to change it? I continue to call unReason that for a good reason. All of you have just read more of the evidence of its continued descent into insanity along with its defense of open borders and idiotic leftist policies in general.

    1. Yes. Count Reason among the enemy.

  17. If all this infighting leaves the government reduced by about 90% we should throw a party.

  18. The warnings of libertarian thinkers were correct about our fundamental liberties, of course.

    They might have been taken more seriously, had not libertarians in politics been more obviously concerned with the right to get high, which as a means of starving organized crime has been a disappointment.

  19. The politics of the last few years surely should lead people who have not done so to question the notion of a powerful, intrusive government. After all the number of Americans who think George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump are all completely qualified and competent to run the country and order its citizens around (only for their own good of course) must be very small. That does not seem to be happening much yet, but over time the lesson may sink in with more people. I hope so.

  20. I think that the notion that people are smart enough to learn anything from all of this is naive at best. They just can’t wait for their turn with the hammer.

  21. Those of us wary of big, intrusive government have warned for years that the mainstream political tribes, left and right, Democrat and Republican, were creating a monster.

    Weird. Here’s the latest NYT headline on Trump’s actions to reduce the power of the federal gummint:

    Trump’s Plan for Coal Emissions: Let Coal States Regulate Them:
    Now, the Trump administration wants to defang the Obama-era rule. The move follows a separate decision this month to freeze Obama-era fuel efficiency standards that were also aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    “These are the two biggest sectors of the economy that contribute to greenhouse gases in the country and are just hugely significant in terms of emissions,” said Janet McCabe, the Environmental Protection Agency air chief under Mr. Obama.

    “The science is just getting clearer and clearer every day,” Ms. McCabe said. “I don’t know how many times people need to hear that we’re having the warmest summer on record or how many storms people need to see. This is no fooling.”

    Yet a search on this big “L” blog doesn’t show anything for the text string regu. I’m sure it’s just an oversight. After all, true libertarians couldn’t be guilty of stick-up-the-ass purity tests, could they?

    1. Global warming is a hoax. The only way to retire a resource like coal is to replace it with a better, and that is the job of innovation, not government. And it is already happening.

  22. “all we can do now is sit back and enjoy the show as those who created the problem now slash away at the legitimacy of their own government”

    …until someone who is actually as authoritarian as they claim Trump is comes in as a Unifier seeking to Get Beyond Politics and stop being so hung up on individualism so that the whole country can Move Forward as one.

  23. this is very important think, as i think… we can’t lose it… Jasa SEO

  24. Suits me. Tear it down. All the way. Tear down all government

    MAGA!

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