Every day, we get a new kick in the gut from the Obama administration. Most recently, Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz was caught on video articulating his view of the agency’s role in enforcing its regulations.
Aremendariz said: “It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere; they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them. Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. … It’s a deterrent factor.”
This man should be fired — yesterday. White House press secretary Jay Carney risibly says Aremendariz wasn’t articulating the attitude of the administration. Sadly, that’s precisely what he was articulating.
Indeed, we’ve seen this attitude by the administration in countless examples, from Obama’s handling of the Obamacare legislation and restructuring of the GM loans to the administration’s New Black Panther voter intimidation case to Solyndra to Fast and Furious to — oh, never mind; I have to keep this to less than 20,000 words.
None of this should surprise us. Obama is the quintessential liberal, and his administration’s recurring abuses are simply the logical extension of liberal hubris born of a self-righteous certainty of the superiority of leftist ideas. This inevitably leads to dictatorial usurpations and lawlessness from the liberal ruling class.
These liberals are sure not only that their ideas and policies are more effective but also that they are morally imperative — and that conservative ideas and policies are not just ineffective but also woefully immoral.
I don’t deny that, to a point, the same could be said of many conservatives, but there are major differences, only one of which I have room to go into here.
Though conservatives are just as convinced of the superiority of their ideas and policies, they do not subscribe to the maxim that the end justifies the means. Their first allegiance, in terms of politics and statecraft, is to the Constitution and the rule of law. They don’t believe they have the right to thwart or circumvent the Constitution or rewrite it judicially to advance their ideas and policies, no matter how important they are.
This is not merely because they are adherents of the rule of law but also because of the high value they place on the Constitution. Their reverence for the Constitution is not a matter of idolatry or some romantic abstraction; it flows from their conviction that it is the indispensable foundation of our political and economic liberties, such that safeguarding its integrity is paramount.
Leftists — not fully appreciating the essential link between our Constitution and our liberties or maybe just not valuing either to the extent conservatives do — are much more willing to subordinate and undermine the Constitution when it serves their ends, all the while paying lip service to their undying allegiance to it. Further, the left, not comprehending conservatives’ commitment to these principles, tends to believe, through projection, that conservatives operate the same way — that we, too, would casually throw the Constitution under the bus to achieve our ends.
But it simply isn’t true. We don’t advocate using the courts to make policies that are the constitutional prerogative of the legislative and executive branches. Nor do we condone abuses of executive authority by the president himself, his unaccountable czars or his rogue administrative agencies to achieve our political ends. We understand that for a court to judicially legislate conservative policy is just as dangerous to the Constitution — and thus, ultimately, to our liberties — as it is for it to legislate liberalism. We realize that for a conservative administration to do end runs around the legislative branch or the Constitution is as damaging to our liberties as similar abuses by a liberal administration.
So please understand that when liberals abuse their power in these ways, it won’t do for them to throw out cynical claims of moral equivalence, as in “conservatives are every bit as guilty of these abuses as we are.” That might fool their fellow cynics and the uninformed, but it’s fantasy. This is not because we are morally superior but because a vital component of our commitment to the bilateral social contract is that we protect and defend the Constitution.
So every time the Obama administration abuses its power in furtherance of its political ends, we conservatives are not just upset that the destructive liberal agenda is being advanced. We aren’t just outraged at its lawlessness. More importantly, we are horrified that it is thereby removing more and more bricks from our nation’s constitutional foundation, our republic and our liberties.