The groundbreaking WeDemandAVote.Com coalition that was launched in 2007 among the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, COAST, Ohio Libertarians, the Ohio Green Party and others had many political pundits scratching their heads:
How could this diverse group come to agreement on anything?
However, as time has marched on, many in our community have developed a deep understanding as to how conservatives, progressives, Libertarians and Greens could unite:
Government has simply become too big, too intrusive, too oppressive
for the good of the people it supposedly serves.
A bigger jail, red light cameras, a trash tax, higher parking fees...the citizenry can only take so much, and in Cincinnati working men and women had had enough. The unifying theme was: Leave us alone!
Now, one would have thought that the other end of that political spectrum were President Obama and his hand-picked Attorney General Eric Holder, who seem to have devoted their professional existence to the expansion of government into every nook and cranny of our lives, and an increase in taxation and spending to accompany that.
Thus, color us shocked that in his last official act as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder issued an utterly remarkable report, here
, that decries the abuse of power by the City of Ferguson in a myriad of ways, primarily in harassing citizens with oppressive traffic laws, a rapacious enforcement system, and a biased Court system. Holder systematically explains how unchecked local government causes untold hardship on the very citizens who need help, not harassment by government.
Is Eric Holder, after all, a libertarian?
The real story behind the Holder report is that we can choose to have a system of limited government, where our elected and appointed officials live inside tight bounds of power defined by the Constitution and an activist citizenry, or we can live as vassals of our elected and appointed officials, cowering in fear of their next capricious act.
In this February article
New York Times reporter Shaila Dewan connected these dots, and noted the COAST/NAACP alliance as one of several developments throughout the nation where historic divides have been bridged to fight oppressive and unjust local government.
This incredible Washington Post article from September of last year, How municipalities in St. Louis County, MO, profit from poverty
, explains in excruciating but necessary detail how self-serving government officials either intentionally or thoughtlessly create endless misery for citizens living on the margins of society.
This choice is clear from the Holder report, and the preference of the Department of Justice toward constrained governance is equally clear. It is a remarkable end to his tenure as U.S. Attorney General.
COAST exists, in great part, to check the nature of man and government to oppress the citizenry. We are as a State and a nation blessed to have had founders and visionary elected officials that have put in place over the centuries and decades constitutional and statutory constraints on the power of government officials. We gladly use these tools -- lawsuits, ballot issues, election campaigns -- to keep government in check.
We welcome the recent attention to the outrageous conduct across the criminal justice system in Missouri, but note that the petty indignities that ultimately ignited months of riots in suburban St. Louis exist throughout the nation. Left and right, black and white, rich and poor, can and should unite to reaffirm the principles of limited government that have made America the greatest country on earth. It is an endless battle to keep the powerful in check.