OPINION – The dark clouds and thunder emanating from Washington D.C. for the past week have been hard to ignore. Someone is trying to remind us how much we supposedly need our rulers. But instead, a clear silver lining for individual freedom is beginning to emerge.
Politicians and bureaucrats locked in a partisan power play are desperately trying to impose pain on the American people. They’ve ordered the shutdown of certain websites, national parks, monuments, and memorials in a misguided attempt to incite public outrage against their political opponents.
Cones were placed along strategic roadways to prevent motorists from stopping to view Mt. Rushmore. Families who live on property near Lake Mead have been prevented from accessing their homes. Veterans visiting the World War II memorial found barricades blocking their way. Visitors to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park have encountered and in some cases defied similar prohibitions. Due to the closure of Grand Canyon National Park a highway that serves more than just the park has been closed to all but local residents.
The World War I memorial was blocked by only a single barricade, presumably because there are no more WWI veterans left to punish.
Mount Vernon is a privately owned historic landmark, yet federal bureaucrats sought to block access to it because they maintain a portion of the parking lot. Even furloughed military chaplains who were willing to work for free were forbidden to perform their duties under threat of reprimand. This is only a partial list of federal government actions.
These efforts to inflict collective punishment on the American people have become so clumsy and so spiteful that they are having a very different effect than intended. Instead, they are revealing the true nature of the power-seekers who run our nation’s capital. Their masks are finally slipping.
Lysander Spooner pointed out the essential flaw in those who seek to lead by force when he said:
that no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support
The growing disconnect between the federal government and the American people is becoming undeniable. In no way do they see themselves as selfless servants of the public; they want us to believe that they control us.
Even some of the federal employees being directed to enforce the shutdowns have had enough. One angry Park Service ranger remarked to the Washington Times, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
But the American people historically have not responded well to this kind of patronizing treatment. The harder our leaders in Washington D.C. try to show us that they can make us suffer, the greater our contempt for them grows.
The so-called shutdown has ended up spurring peaceful acts of civil disobedience across the nation.
At the WWII memorial, aging veterans simply moved the barriers out of the way so they could visit the site they’d waited to be built for nearly 50 years. An innkeeper in North Carolina defiantly reopened his inn for a couple of hours Thursday despite park service efforts to turn away his customers. Closer to home, a handful of protesters climbed the fence to Zion National Park and picked up trash while they hiked.
These acts of defiance show that the spirit of Rosa Parks is apparently alive and well.
When Washington D.C. politicians arrogantly presume to inconvenience us to show their power, it’s the nature of the American people to start pushing back. The more our would-be rulers try to convince us of how essential they are to our happiness, the more they reveal themselves to be morally bankrupt common bullies.
The federal government may be unwittingly pushing people into the corner of the states particularly on the thorny issue of federal lands and parks.
Some state leaders in Wisconsin have already pushed back against efforts to close public lands due to the federal shutdown. Their governor and state Department of Natural Resources flatly refused to obey directives to deny people access to popular recreational areas because of the ongoing federal budget battle.
More states need to recognize this opportunity to interpose themselves between their citizens and the federal leviathan.
Representative Ken Ivory has been spearheading the effort to require the federal government to relinquish control over the lands it manages in the state of Utah. Unfortunately, we have yet to elect a governor with the kind of backbone shown by Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.
No matter what one may think of our state government, it could never pull off the kind of vindictive behavior being exhibited by our federal government. Our elected state leaders are more easily held accountable than their federal counterparts.
In the meantime, peaceful civil disobedience is proving to be a useful reminder that we have more power than we realize.
- Shutdown: ‘Occupy Zion’ protesters defy national park gates
- Shutdown: Visitors ignore closure order, Grand Canyon National Park reacts with closure of Highway 64
- Shutdown impacts Springdale, Washington County tourism
- Bryce Canyon businesses say ‘it’s hurting bad;’ impact of government shutdown, alternatives for tourists – Includes alternatives for tourists
- Shutdown: Zion National park closes, what else is affected? – Includes alternatives for tourists
- ‘The Life of Julia’ under Obamacare, will she: pay more, have information privacy, access to quality care?
- Utah congressmen speak to government shutdown
- Utah congressmen speak to government shutdown
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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