By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
There used to be a term for the minority party in Washington. It was known as the loyal opposition.
The party out of power was supposed to offer alternatives to the majority party and check them at every turn.
This was by design.
By criticizing proposals and forcing the majority to compromise, the final versions of laws and policy changes would more accurately reflect the view of the nation as a whole.
Sometimes Democrats were in the minority and at other times Republicans. Either way, compromise was demanded if the Republic was truly to work as intended.
In other words, the majority was not supposed to always get its way on every issue, all the time.
Today’s column writers, bloggers and political pundits seem to have lost this knowledge of the basic role of the loyal opposition.
Instead, they have done what they always do, revise history with new terminology. We no longer talk about the loyal opposition, and we call those who disagree with the ruling party’s proposals obstructionists.
“They are standing in the way of progress,” they say. “Don’t they realize they lost the election?” will be the response of another.
Washington has become a winner-take-all game in the past 20 years, and the majority has consolidated power through policy.
Civil servants were once considered the least political of all. Today, up and down the chain, only those who carry the party flag move up the ladder, and they use these offices to advocate and promote political positions.
We all know about the IRS, but it is no different in the EPA or National Parks and Wildlife.
A long time ago, Congress delegated authority to these agencies which work for the American people. They never intended for conservative groups to be targeted or for gases like carbon dioxide to become regulated even though no act of Congress requested it.
Yesterday, the new head of the IRS, John Koskinen, was asked by a Congressional committee if he planned to discuss with the FBI the possibility that the lost emails from previous director Lois Lerner might have been criminally removed from government computers.
No one said there was a crime committed, but the possibility existed that there might have been a crime committed, and yet Koskinen would not even discuss the issue with the FBI.
That’s because civil servants are no longer simply doing the work of the people. They are political operatives carrying out an agenda rather than simply conducting their jobs in a nonpartisan fashion.
Much like the media, Democrats make up the largest percentage of federal employees that are unionized (39.5 percent Democrat to 27.2 percent Republican).
They bring that perspective to the job, and they view other political views as obstructing their ability to enforce their ideology.
It was never intended to be that way.
Partisanship ended inside the various departments when those who truly wanted to serve the people put their political views aside and carried out the duties of the job.
Political party control was a shifting landscape, but the bureaucrats served both with distinction.
Or at least that was how it used to be.
Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both declared the end of big government, but for the last eight years, government has flexed its muscles by blatantly taking sides.
That makes the job of governing much more difficult, but the goal is no longer to serve the American people, but to serve those with similar political views.
That’s not what public service means.
It will take a decade to remove the partisans from civil service, and that will require the right leadership. It doesn’t mean a party switch for those jobs but a proper understanding of the role of government.
The very first rule is simple — all political viewpoints are welcome. That’s what freedom means.