What Comes Next....
We have remained virtually radio-silent during the online artillery barrage that was the campaign season of 2016. However, now that the shelling has stopped and only scattered pockets of political small arms fire can be heard, we've decided to come out of our bunker to offer a word of caution about the vastly changed landscape in the corridors of power.
To assume that a new regime will automatically mean a new age of liberty is foolishness. Remember that, while the outgoing Democratic administration has run roughshod over many of our Constitutional and legal rights, much of the framework for these abuses was established by previous Republican administrations. Party affiliation does not guarantee respect for personal freedom; it merely offers indication of which freedoms are more likely to be prioritized for infringement. While the Democrats have a special hatred for our Second Amendment, neither party seems to care much for speech, due process, privacy, or property.
Donald Trump, while certainly appearing to be far different than our standard run of career politicians, is not a Constitutional messiah. He is a showman and a populist. This may benefit us if he holds to his rhetoric, as we could actually see a reduction in regulations and a shrinking of the government agencies that enforce them. However, President Trump is also a businessman and a pragmatist - he has a history of reversing his positions and priorities as needed, heedless of any criticism for doing so. He is equally as likely to champion a new "assault weapon ban" as to legalize suppressors; to expand domestic surveillance as to disband the TSA; to press for the abolition of "hate crime" statutes as to make it a crime to burn our flag.
Many of the incoming cabinet are interesting choices as well, and offer mixed messages. Scott Pruitt, a long-time critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, is now that agency's head. Tom Price, an opponent of Obamacare, is going to be in charge of Health and Human Services. Attorney Donald F. McGahn, soon to be White House counsel, has been described as harboring "deep libertarianism" and suspicion of government, and won praise in the Federal Elections Commission for dragging many closed-door deliberations into the public eye.
However, our proposed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, believes that civil asset forfeiture is not only "perfectly appropriate," but that anyone who has been victimized by it had it coming. "Sessions even dismissed the idea that innocent Americans were being victimized by civil asset forfeiture, describing most people who have had their property seized by police as having 'done nothing in their lives but sell dope.'”
We would suggest that Mister Sessions discuss the matter with Burt Wagner.
It's also worth noting that the man tapped to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, wrote the following in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece: “Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database. Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed…. Moreover, the use of strong encryption in personal communications may itself be a red flag.” He also believes Edward Snowden should be executed for having gone public with his revelations that our government was spying on us (after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper bluntly lied about it when directly questioned by Congress).
In short, we have no idea what the future will hold for our liberty, and we must remain vigilant, critical, and active in its defense. The guns may be silent for now, but don’t be fooled – they are likely just reloading for the next salvo. And whatever abuse, violation, or outright travesty we treat as acceptable under "our guy" will remain in place - and with the weight of established precedent - when "their guy" ultimately returns to power.
The landscape has changed. The dangers are likely the same.