The Jonathan Turley Manifesto

Jonathan Turley is a left wing constitutional scholar, but recently in the Washington Post, he wrote a piece on the bureaucratic state that any conservative could have written and a searing indictment of the progressive movement as a political ideal. Turley shows how the bureaucratic state is threatening our liberty, which he calls the fourth branch of government.

Turley begins his essay with a brief history and describing how the federal government was small throughout much of our history with only 1,000 non-military workers during Washington's first Administration. Today there are nearly three million federal works spread over 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 sub-agencies. Turley notes, “This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.” Turley's point is that the rise of this fourth branch has been at the expense of the lawmaking authority of Congress and as Turley observed, “In fact, the vast majority of 'laws' governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.”

Turley's point is self-evident; laws are no longer the purview of duly elected legislators, but instead, of unelected bureaucrats. Congress has found itself unable to exert any control over the bureaucratic state, and in some cases, many legislators are perfectly willing to allow the bureaucratic state control over governing. Nor is this all as the judiciary has seen its authority diminished as Congress has given the unelected fourth branch judicial authority at the expense of the courts. Turley noted, “These agency proceedings are often mockeries of due process, with one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency. And agencies increasingly seem to chafe at being denied their judicial authority. Just ask John E. Brennan. Brennan, a 50-year-old technology consultant, was charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure when he stripped at Portland International Airport last year in protest of invasive security measures by the Transportation Security Administration. He was cleared by a federal judge, who ruled that his stripping was a form of free speech. The TSA was undeterred. After the ruling, it pulled Brennan into its own agency courts under administrative charges.” In the courts, you have due process but under the fourth estate, you are guilty until proven innocent, and a citizen is ten times more likely to be tried by a government agency than by the courts!

The expansive power of the fourth estate has happened alongside with increases in presidential powers, which as Turley observed, “From the power to determine when to go to war to the power to decide when it’s reasonable to vaporize a U.S. citizen in a drone strike. In this new order, information is jealously guarded and transparency has declined sharply.” On paper, federal agencies report to the White House, but in reality, these agencies are their own laws, independent of the executive, judicial and congressional branch. And only 1 percent of these positions are political appointees, and career officials are supposedly insulated from political pressure from civil services rules, but as the recent IRS scandal showed, bureaucrats will act in favor of the ruling leftist class.   Nor does Turley dismiss this as a product of partisan politics as he observed, “Today’s political divisions are mild compared with those in the early republic, as when President Thomas Jefferson described his predecessor’s tenure as 'the reign of the witches.' Rather, today’s confrontations reflect the serious imbalance in the system.”

As Turley noted, the common citizens find the bureaucratic state as judge and jury on their guilt, but much of this has been hidden from public view, but the IRS scandal showed the abuse of the Fourth Estate in public view. This also showed the threat of the Fourth Estate to our Liberty has lain open. No matter what Congress or Presidents decide, the Fourth Estate will run the show based on their inclinations! The IRS will be a major player on how Obamacare is implemented, and the recent scandal has shown that this could change Obamacare beyond even what its most common advocates wished. Turley has made a coherent case against the Fourth Estate as any conservative or libertarian could have made, and Turley's indictment should lead to its logical conclusion, a dismantling of the bureaucratic state. That means a limitation of government and a rejection of the progressive ideology, which has resulted in an unelected bureaucratic state running our lives.

Ayn Rand in her book, Atlas Shrugged, predicted the rise of the bureaucratic state and how it would result in diminution of our liberty. Conservatives and Libertarians have advanced this argument for decades, but the recent IRS scandal showed the abuse of power and IRS threat to our political freedom. Many on the left have been comfortable with the bureaucratic state since the Fourth Estate has been an instrument for the rise of government power. Many Democratic legislators all but begged the IRS to use its power to attack conservative groups as a means of discouraging conservative donors and intimidating their opponents. To what extent the administration was involved is still up for investigation, but the IRS scandal has now opened the veil of how the Fourth Estate is now abusing our freedom and threatening the very core of our society! Turley concluded, “We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.” He is right, our liberty is at stake, and the political left and the Democratic Party as it is presently constituted can’t be trusted to defend those liberties!

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