Washington’s War on Freedom
In recent weeks, Americans have been shocked by news that the IRS has been engaging in criminal activity for political purposes—wrongfully targeting groups for audits and extra questioning based on their political beliefs. The targeting of any organization by a government agency is reprehensible, but the use of perhaps the most powerful agency in the country to silence and bully groups for their political views is positively chilling. Only a few decades ago, articles of impeachment were brought against President Nixon for, among other things, using the IRS to silence political opponents.
The more we learn about the issue nationwide, the worse it becomes. The IRS demanded to know what targeted organizations’ members prayed about. It required information on what books people were reading. Here in New Mexico, the IRS demanded information from one organization about their connection to an 83-year-old Albuquerque woman—a great-grandmother, volunteer, and WWII internment-camp-survivor. They also pressed the group’s president for more information about an informal political discussion group he’d attended only once.
IRS officials have refused to answer questions about why this happened. No one has explained why IRS Commissioner Shulman visited the White House 157 times—including when his boss, the Secretary of the Treasury, was not present. The President has parsed words and dodged questions when asked about the crimes. His senior officials knew about the IRS’s Nixonian plot, but the White House claims that they decided to keep it from the president—an answer that might put one concern to rest, but raises dozens more.
If the President’s unelected advisors are making major decisions behind his back, who is in charge of the country? We’ve been told that the decision not to save American lives in Benghazi was made without the knowledge of top officials. We’ve been told that the President knew nothing about his Department of Justice seizing phone records from the Associated Press, or selling guns to Mexico through the “Fast and Furious” program that left at least one American dead. To this day, no one has answered for these crimes. And now, we’re told that the IRS was transformed into a political machine without the president’s knowledge—even while countless aids and appointees knew. The President was duly elected by the American people, but he claims to know nothing about some of the most important decisions of his presidency. Of all the shocking truths that have come to light in recent weeks, this is perhaps the most concerning.
The presidency has vast power, and vast responsibility. We’re often reminded of that responsibility by the saying, “the buck stops here.” But the power of the presidency without that responsibility—when the buck conveniently stops somewhere else—is a terrifying concept.
The actions of the IRS are shocking because of the power the IRS holds. Every year, the IRS collects trillions of dollars from Americans. For a family, those taxes can determine whether credit card bills get paid, or important purchases made. For a business, those taxes can be the difference between keeping your doors open or closing down for good. For a nonprofit, taxes and tax status can determine whether the homeless get fed in a community, or whether vital community services remain available.
In America, we expect these decisions to be made fairly. Americans have fought for centuries to make sure that we all have equal protection under the law, regardless of who we are, what we look like, or what we believe. We hold it to be a self-evident truth that all are created equal. But now we’ve learned that the government can target people for their beliefs. We’ve learned that the government is picking and choosing who gets special treatment, and who has to face roadblocks and extra challenges. We’ve learned that the party in power can use our government as a political tool to empower its friends and strong-arm those who disagree. These are decisions with major consequences: the ability to affect elections, our economy, and our future as a country.
The American people deserve answers. These answers will only come when we the people demand them. All governments, all political parties, all elected officials will ultimately move to consolidate their powers unless the people stand arm in arm against bureaucratic overreach. If we as the American people do not stand together across all party, ethnic, religious, and racial lines we will continue to see injustice by backroom politics.
Our freedoms, justice, and futures will only be protected when we speak up, stand up, and send a message to any and all who seek to limit our Constitutional rights. We the people must demand that our government throw back the curtain and answer to the people it serve.