Why do people care so passionately about politics these days? When I was a child in the ’60s, my parents didn’t seem to care much about politics and neither did any of their friends. To this day I have no idea what my parents’ political views were, because they never talked politics, but I guarantee you that all my daughters are aware of my views. Well aware. Why are people now willing break off friendships and disown family members over political candidates?
A poll released by the APA in February found that over half of the respondents indicated that the political climate was a source of stress.
David Wasserman, writing at FiveThirtyEight, opines about the the death of purple America, those areas where political contests are decided by single-digit margins, but doesn’t speculate as to why. He concludes:
In an increasing number of communities like Baldwin County, Alabama, which gave Trump 80 percent of its major-party votes, and San Mateo, California, which gave Clinton 80 percent, an entire generation of youth will grow up without much exposure to alternative political points of view. If you think our political climate is toxic now, think for a moment about how nasty politics could be 20 or 30 years from now.
There’s a simple answer: Government is too big.
Take the case of Melissa and Aaron Klein. If those names don’t sound familiar, would it help if I had just called them the Oregon bakers? I’m guessing it would. Or how about the Kennewick, Washington, florist, Baronelle Stutzman? In both cases, Christian small business owners exercising their right to freedom of religion found themselves at odds with the government. The government may pay lip service to freedom of religion, but in practice, it’s treated as freedom of worship, so please keep your icky religion inside the four walls of your church where it belongs, thank you very much.
Property owners aren’t faring any better. Back in 2015, we heard about Andy and Katie Johnson, a Wyoming couple who built a pond on their 8-acre farm. Even though the pond became a haven for wildlife, the EPA found them to be in violation of a water rule that claims authority over every drop of water in the country. Have a puddle on your property? Yep, theirs. At the time this story broke, the Johnsons had been fined over $16 million. To sum that up, EPA bureaucrats wrote a rule giving themselves the authority to ruin a farmer for improving his property.
Mike and Chantell Sackett found themselves in a similar situation with the EPA, except in their case they meddled with a wetland rather than creating one. Does is seem as though property owners just can’t win?
The assault on 2nd Amendment rights is never-ending. I’m sure that gun control advocates keep hammering away in the hope that everyone else will cede their rights just to shut them up. Here in Washington State, every legislative session sees the introduction of new and varied gun control bills. And when the proposed legislation is so far out there that it can’t even pass out of committee, someone writes it up as an initiative and puts it on the ballot, confident that King County will bring home the win. It’s now possible in Washington to be stripped of your right to own firearms before you’re even aware any action has been taken against you.
The number of federal regulations is growing at truly astonishing rate and along with it, as Glenn Reynolds tells us, is the number of regulatory crimes. There’s no way for individuals to avoid running afoul of them because, as Reynolds points out, they’re often counter-intuitive.
Government at every level has intruded into our daily lives to such an extent that it’s no longer possible to adopt the casual apathy of my parents. Bureaucrats are like party crashers at a wedding reception. No one knows who they are or where they came from, but there they are, eating up your life savings and telling you that you should have done things differently or believed differently or understood your rights differently.
Politics has morphed into a high stakes game. When the government is big enough to ruin your business, devalue your property, bankrupt you or deprive you of your clearly stated constitutional rights, it’s no wonder people are passionate.
Thanks to Jon Gabriel for getting my thought process moving on this post.