"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Government by fiat

rainey BARRETT


Secrecy has its place. Often – as in the case of national defense – secrecy can save a nation. But in matters of our political affairs, secrecy can destroy our liberties and guaranteed freedoms like a cancer. Such a political disease now exists in our country. If not stopped, we’re soon going to be living in a very different nation.

An important request here. Put aside your personal political leanings for a few minutes and look at what’s happening in several states with as unbiased an eye as possible. Though only one political party is currently conducting this onslaught, it could easily be the reverse with a different outcome at the polls in recent elections. The issue of the moment is the dangerous, freedom-killing tactic – not the perpetrator.

In recent months, legislatures in half a dozen states passed major bills affecting millions of lives. They did so without public notice -without public hearings – in more than one instance without even participation of the other political party. Those bills were promptly signed into law by the respective governors – some such executions without advance notice of any kind.

Now, if you’ve been unable to put aside your political makeup – and if you’re a member of the state majority party that has used these treacherous tactics to put laws on the books you agree with – you may just say “Good for our side.” But suppose you were opposed to what happened and you’re now saddled with these new laws. Still feel good? Still happy? Suppose the roles were reversed.

In each instance, the major topics being legislated have been cutting voting access for minorities and direct threats to women’s health care – specifically availability of abortion services. But that’s just today. And maybe you agree with the outcome. But what about tomorrow? What about the next topic? Substitute such things as new taxes, gun controls, discriminating against YOUR ethnic heritage or race, blocking YOUR ability to vote, creating challenges to YOUR private use – or even ownership – of real property. And dozens of other issues. What if new laws YOU vehemently oppose directly affecting YOUR life were being conceived, passed and executed without your participation or even knowledge? What then?

The four states indulging in most of this dictatorial use of political majority at the moment are Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas. They’re doing what can best be described as “government by fiat.” The laws are conceived, passed and executed, then those subject to them are told.

Other states are watching this process. States with similar lopsided political majorities and a willing governor of the same party. If these laws – conceived and executed in the dark – pass expected future constitutional challenges, our nation’s formerly open process of legislating could be drastically changed. One state at a time.

The people committing this attack on our freedoms are freezing out the opposition. And proper debate. They’re doing it in the wrong-headed belief they were elected to do just what they’re doing – that “right” is on their side. I remember an old political pro telling me once “When you’re on the outside, they do it to you and when you’re on the inside, you do it to them.” That was bad philosophy 40 years ago and it’s wrong-headed today.
While winning an election certainly carries with it advantage and even privilege – as it should – that doesn’t authorize attacks on the freedoms we are each specifically granted. The irony here is these actions – all of them – are being done by people who swear by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights while they trample guarantees contained in those documents.

At the moment, women’s health care may not be important to you. You may even agree with the actions taken. And this warning of a dangerous plague growing in our two-party political system may be just a bunch of words. Seeing dangers where no dangers exist.

But – what if this political perversion of government checks-and-balances continues because no one tries to stop it? What if future laws come only from a handful of people doing their work in secret? What if the issues on the table suddenly become yours? Who will speak for you?

“Government by fiat” is currently a fact in at least five states and at the hands of one political party. But it’s more than a political issue. It’s a challenge to the rights of everyone in this country. The citizenship of all is as stake.

It’s happening. Now. So what are YOU going to do about it?

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