The Founders envisioned and then established a federal government with three branches: executive, Congress, and the courts. The rationale behind having three branches was to provide checks and balances between and among the branches as a way of guarding against tyranny. The Founders were intent on ensuring that no one branch of the federal government could ride roughshod over the freedoms and rights of individual Americans. By dividing the federal government into three distinct and inter-dependent branches, the Founders were trying to ensure that private citizens always had avenues for redress of grievances against the government.
For many years, the government functioned as set forth in the Constitution—of course imperfectly—but essentially as it was designed to. But then in the 1960s, we began to see the rise of a different sort of public official; one who viewed the federal government as a tool for creating that illusive perfect society envisioned by liberals. As a result, the concept of legislating from the bench began to take hold in the federal court system, Congressmen began to view the federal treasury as the means for financing their liberal agenda, and left-leaning presidents began to dream of establishing progressive legacies. All of this taken together had the effect of rapidly and steadily increasing the size and, in turn, the power of the federal bureaucracy. As a result, America now has a fourth arm of government staffed by unelected career bureaucrats who wield almost tyrannical power over American citizens.
A recent example of the power of a federal bureaucracy gone wild is the decision of the U.S. Patent office to rescind the government’s trademark protection for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Officials in the Patent Office took the unprecedented and tyrannical step of deciding of their own accord that the name “Redskins” was demeaning to American Indians; this in spite of the fact that a poll taken by the Annenberg Public Policy Center showed that 90 percent of American Indians had no problem with the name “Redskins.” This is the kind of tyranny that our Founders sought to guard against when they established the three arms of government.
If Congress had taken this action, those who oppose it would have an avenue for redressing their grievances: the ballot box. The same rule applies to the president. It would be more difficult—as the Founders intended it to be—to redress a grievance against the Supreme Court, but even that body answers indirectly to the people over time through the appointment and confirmation process. What avenue is available to the Washington Redskins when a bunch of unelected bureaucrats in the Patent Office take unilateral action against the organization? Answer: Unless the president is willing to rein in the patent Office, the Redskins have no avenue of redress.
Another example of bureaucratic tyranny is IRS bullying of conservative non-profit organizations. One could also cite the use of the NSA to eavesdrop on American citizens. Big brother, in the form of the federal bureaucracy, is not just watching you he is tapping your phone and breaking down your front door. Then there is the mother of all bureaucracies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Like a monstrous bureaucratic factory, the EPA cranks out new environmental regulations by the ream. For example, the Federal Register increased in page count by 80,000 pages in just one year (2013), and the trend continues. One of the biggest contributors to this growth in page count is the EPA.
In all of these cases of bureaucratic tyranny, a trail seems to lead back to the Oval Office. Consequently, one might reasonably assume that the bureaucrats in question are not acting entirely on their own initiative. Of course, the Obama administration denies instigating these cases of bureaucratic overreach, but his denials are hardly reassuring. If the president did not initiate these actions, we have an even worse problem than if he did. Think about it. If the president ordered government agencies to act against the American people, we have a president who is abusing his power and can be impeached or who, at worse, will eventually step down as the chief executive. But if individuals in these agencies acted of their own volition, we have a self-regulating bureaucracy running amok with tons of authority but no accountability. Adding to this problem is the fact that the individuals who run these federal bureaucracies tend to stay in their positions for 30 or more years.
Federal bureaucrats are not elected, nor are they put in office with the advice and consent of the Senate. They are nameless, faceless power mongers who by dint of their longevity and lack of accountability do more to govern the lives of Americans than the members of Congress. It is time to rein in the bureaucrats. The Founders did not include a fourth arm of government in the Constitution. Therefore, we should not have one. Period.