No Taxation by Misrepresentation
July 18, 2012
This week’s newsletter is excerpted from my new e-book “No Taxation by Misrepresentation,” which you can download here.
As I wrote last week, the Obama administration’s attempt to rewrite history in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare ranks among the most brazen dishonesty in recent American political history. The rhetorical manipulation by the president and his allies regarding his law’s most controversial provision, the individual mandate, is a scandalous attempt to deceive the American people.
It constitutes a level of systematic dishonesty worthy of Orwell’s “1984″ or of the Communist newspaper Pravda at the peak of the Soviet Empire. Uncomfortable facts become nonexistent. “Necessary” falsehoods become the new truth. Doublespeak reigns.
It is the opposite of the fundamental honesty needed for self-government.
America was founded on an explicit contract between the governed and those to whom they loan power. There is a citizen-based freedom in America that has become a model for the world.
This American model began with a deep belief that power could only come with the consent of the governed. It was framed early on in a simple, direct fight over taxes. Ironically the very issue of taxation that is at the heart of the fight over Obamacare was also at the heart of the American Revolution.
In 1750 Reverend Jonathan Mayhew of Boston delivered a sermon in which he asserted there should be “no taxation without representation.”
This phrase became one of the two major complaints of the colonists in their grievances with the British monarchy. (The other was dictatorial judges imposing government orders on citizens against their will.)
The Declaration of Independence reaffirmed this principle of representation in several statements. The Declaration asserts government “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed … ” can be changed by the people. It also blamed the British government and the King for “imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.”
This demand for representation was at the heart of the American Revolution.
Our Founding Fathers believed that representative self-government and the very fabric of freedom required a basic level of honesty.
If people couldn’t believe their leaders how could they have representative self-government?
The very concept of a bond between those in power and those who vote them into power requires some fundamental trust based upon honest discourse.
Thomas Aquinas summed up the simple matter quite well back in the 13th Century when he wrote “Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another.”
Five centuries after Aquinas, the first three presidents of the United States all shared similar attachments to honesty.
In his Farewell Address in 1796, our first president said “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.”
John Adams, our second president and a coauthor with Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin of the Declaration of Independence, shared Jefferson’s belief in honesty being integral to representative self-government. In a letter to Jefferson in 1796, Adams wrote that he hoped his would be “the age of experiments in government, and that their basis will be founded on principles of honesty, not of mere force.”
Thomas Jefferson, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote in 1774 that “(t)he whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”
The Founders clearly understood that there is a very simple reason self-government requires some fundamental level of honesty.
The election process is essentially a contract. The candidate is promising to represent a set of values and work toward a series of agreed upon goals in return for citizens’ votes.
Citizens are voting to lend power to someone in return for his or her commitment to use that power to work toward a shared vision of the future.
The very heart of the election contract is a basic understanding of what is at stake. When leaders are dishonest to the people about important issues, they undermine the trust that is fundamental to the idea of self-government — or as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently put it, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
President Barack Obama launched his campaign in 2007 in Springfield, Illinois invoking that spirit of Honest Abe. But it is clear President Obama hasn’t grasped the basic truths and the ethic of simple honesty that Lincoln understood and which defined Lincoln’s speeches and his presidency.
President Obama’s systematic and pervasive dishonesty undermines the ability of the public to know what’s at stake, which is the very basis of every judgment made by the American people.
If such dishonesty is not punished by the voters, I fear it will teach a generation of Americans that routine, systematic dishonesty can be a winning strategy that creates legitimacy by the very act of succeeding. The cost will be a terrible erosion of trust among men and women, and a tearing apart of the social fabric that can only be built upon relationships of trust.
The election stakes
This election is about much more than the economy and jobs.
This election is about much more than a radical power grab designed to create a Washington centered bureaucratic control of America on behalf of left wing values.
This election is also about a culture of corruption and dishonesty that threatens to undermine and replace the very fabric of American representative self-government.
The Obama system of dishonesty has been on its most blatant display recently about taxes in Obamacare.
The uniformity and discipline of the Obama administration’s “it’s not a tax” campaign since the Supreme Court’s decision is a deliberate effort to impose a falsehood on historic fact that should anger every American.
To defend honesty as a core value of American self-government and to defend the American principle of no taxation without representation, we must decisively repudiate taxation by misrepresentation.
This is the most important election in over a century and the Obama dishonesty about taxation and Obamacare is just more proof of how dishonest and how destructive the Obama team is and why it must be defeated.