By Bradley Harrington
“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” — Barry Goldwater, “Republican Nomination Acceptance Speech, “ 1964 —
If you’ve ever wanted to see a concrete event that eloquently displays the role of principles in man’s affairs, you need look no further than the recent forum held for the candidates seeking to become Wyoming’s next congressional representative:
“A dozen Wyoming citizens are vying for the open U.S. House of Representatives seat, and nine presented their views, beliefs and ideas during a Wyoming League of Women Voters of Laramie forum Thursday [Aug. 4].” (“Wyoming U.S. House candidates speak on EPA, U.S. threats,” WTE, Aug. 8.)
So, what did our candidates — seven Republicans, a Democrat and a Libertarian — have to say about the EPA? With the exception of Charlie Hardy (D), who just loves everything the EPA does, everybody else’s idea was that the EPA is out of control.
A sampling of the Republicans: The EPA is “bloated” (Liz Cheney); it uses its “authority and muscle on Wyoming” (Leland Christensen); its regulations “restrict farmers and ranchers” (Mike Konsmo); it needs to be “reined back in” (Paul Paad); it should be “downsized drastically” (Jason Senteney); it’s been taken over by “radical environmentalists” (Darin Smith); and that it operates “above the law” (Tim Stubson).
While justifiably criticizing the EPA on all these counts, however, every one of the Republican candidates affirmed the EPA’s fundamental mission as well as its right to exist.
Except that: By the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, it has no “right to exist” whatsoever and is clearly and unequivocally unconstitutional.
Consider that Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Translation: If the Constitution does not specifically enumerate a particular power to the federal government, it has no such power, and any legislation regarding that area of the political sphere is to be left up to the states.
So: If we fail to challenge the EPA’s existence on these grounds, just how is it that we’re supposed to “rein it in” or “downsize” it? You might as well expect to “rein in” a thief’s attempt to rob you blind by telling him that he has a “right” to some of your property after all.
Conversely, if it’s stupid to have the EPA regulating carbon dioxide and farm dust, aren’t you challenging its very mission? Isn’t that what it was created to do? And if so, what else could ever happen but that it would be taken over by “radical environmentalists”?
Sorry, but there’s no intellectual consistency to these statements at all — like pregnancies, it’s an all-or-nothing affair. So, what explains these lame Republican responses?
That one’s easy enough: Cowardice on the part of a bunch of mealy-mouthed wanna-be politicians who want to posture as “getting tough” with the EPA, but who also don’t want to appear as too “extreme” to the voters. My God, can you imagine the hue-and-cry you’d hear if any one of these candidates actually stood up and stated that, like a cancer, you don’t “downsize” the EPA, you get rid of it completely?
Principles, therefore, take a back seat to political expediency. And it’s precisely this kind of Republican gutlessness, Dear Reader, that has led us to our current state of affairs. And, as a “solution,” we are being offered yet more of the same. Pathetic.
It is possible, of course, that some of these candidates actually believe what they are saying. That would make things worse, not better, as such a belief reveals a total lack of understanding of the manner in which principles operate.
Either way you slice it, the implications are clear: The chances of any of these Republican wimps bringing anything rational to the EPA’s abolition table are akin to a snowball surviving in Hell.
Of all of the Republicans, it’s Ms. Cheney’s position that is, logically speaking, the worst: After all, she’s the one constantly braying on the radio about how she’s a “constitutional conservative” seeking to get rid of “federal overreach.” Her copy of the Constitution, apparently, comes complete with no Bill of Rights.
As for Lawrence Struempf, the so-called “Libertarian”: As someone allegedly committed to strictly limited government, his belief that we need some “national standard and level of regulations for air and water” is nothing short of deceitful. He’s the one you’d expect to actually advocate the application of property rights to the environmental sphere to resolve these issues. Worse than pathetic.
Which means: Keep right on walking, folks, as there’s nothing worth seeing here.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the “Wyoming Tribune Eagle” on August 12, 2016. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.