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Was Obama’s misguided ‘tyranny’ advice code talk for ‘Tea Party’?

One of two Revolutionary War flags in existence. This one was carried at the Battle of Stoney Point near New York City. (Russell Lee, Photographer; U.S. Library of Congress)

President Barack Obama addressed graduates at The Ohio State University on Sunday in Columbus.

It’s likely the students were excited—how many graduates get to hear a sitting president address them? This would be the third time for such an occasion in the history of the university that began with the first classes at Ohio Agricultural College and University in 1873. In 1878 the college changed its name to The Ohio State University.

As he addressed the graduates, Obama said:

“Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They'll warn that tyranny always lurks just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

As a freedom lover, you have no idea how I wish what the president said was true—that students had indeed “grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government…”

As a public school graduate and as the mother of two public school graduates, I can attest the opposite is true. Students grow up hearing nothing of the sort.

I’m pretty sure the president was simply using his tyranny advice as code talk to caution about the Tea Party movement and perhaps libertarian philosophies. Certain high profile voices in the Republican Party have nudged it towards a smaller government philosophy. You can see why supporters of big government, of a central government that has limitless powers, would be alarmed. It’s also useful to point out that many young people are attracted to the libertarian philosophies that are anathema to proponents of all-encompassing federal powers.

It’s not likely that many of those graduates even realized how far the federal government has strayed from the powers enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. Leftwing pundits routinely complain about those enumerated powers’ lack of practicality in today’s world. The Constitution, however, remains the law of the land.

No other country has a document on par with our Constitution—not even England where the Magna Carta played a serious role more than once in checking a despot’s powers.

It won’t surprise that this document that secures freedom for all of us is often disdained by those who believe in creating myriad laws under the pretense of benefiting all humanity. A perfect example is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandating every American buy a health insurance policy or pay a tax. The tax was originally called a ‘penalty,’ but the Supreme Court pointed out that wasn’t constitutional so the PPACA’s defenders—paid for by American taxpayers—reverted to calling the penalty a tax even though it was originally parsed as a not-tax by the president.

Against the backdrop of the Democrat health tax bill, other laws are completely ignored or in some cases horribly abused. Obama’s U.S. Justice Dept. not only refused to uphold all immigration laws, they went to court to prosecute states who attempted to do something about lack of control over who comes into and stays in those states.

Meanwhile, a private company in Tennessee was raided by a SWAT-type federal team after a bureaucrat decided to interpret laws that had no clear interpretation. The company forfeited wood and paid a hefty fine, but no criminal charges were filed. If that sounds like extortion to you, you might be one of those voices Obama would like the students to reject.

By the time our president ran for reelection, he had launched a sort of class warfare, intent on raising taxes on the economic quintile that already pays the lion’s share of income taxes. Obama did this even though people who don’t pay income taxes but work and have children receive money taken from those taxpayers. IRS has acknowledged fraud in such programs, but our government cannot police all the statutes, regulations and rules politicos have created. Case in point: immigration. What’s the solution? Write a new immigration law since the old one wasn’t enforced.

There’s a brilliant essay those graduates should read, a sort of mini-history on enumerated powers and tyranny written by Joe Sobran. I wish some enterprising libertarian or conservative with deep pockets would print the essay as a pocket booklet for distribution to schools.

Sobran served as senior editor for National Review for many years. In his essay ‘How Tyranny Came to America,’ he talked about the country’s founders:

“If Washington and Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton could come back, the first thing they’d notice would be that the federal government now routinely assumes thousands of powers never assigned to it — powers never granted, never delegated, never enumerated. These were the words they used, and it’s a good idea for us to learn their language. They would say that we no longer live under the Constitution they wrote. And the Americans of a much later era — the period from Cleveland to Coolidge, for example — would say we no longer live even under the Constitution they inherited and amended.”

Sobran even goes so far as to declare—and rightfully—that Americans are less free today than the colonists were under King George:

“Even the most cynical opponents of the Constitution would be dumbfounded to learn that the federal government now tells us where we can smoke. We are less free, more heavily taxed, and worse governed than our ancestors under British rule.”

Democrats aren’t alone in expanding government to a level that is dangerous to wealth and personal liberty. Both parties have played a part, but as a mother, I always look to the future and I believe the only viable future is through the Republican Party at present. There is much work to do, but at least the GOP will listen. Democrats routinely vilify anyone who disagrees with federal policies.

If America in 2012 can tell me I better buy health insurance or I’ll pay an extra tax or maybe even go to jail, what will America dictate to my children when they’re my age?

The founders were concerned about the impact of the federal structure, so much so that they took great pains to discuss its potential and add a Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

In the Federalist Papers [#45], James Madison wrote [boldface added]:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Those same principles Madison wrote about are codified in the Constitution and in the Bill of Rights.

The president of The Ohio State University addressed the faculty in the months before Obama came to speak. He said the students were “the first generation to regard themselves as global citizens.” He emphasized “global, multi-cultural thinking.” It’s not likely the word ‘imperialism’ occurred to President E. Gordon Gee as he spoke those words. It should have.

Obama warned students to reject those dissenting voices he assumed they’d heard.


If you’re a young person who hopes to prosper, seek dissenting voices and think for yourself. Above all, seek the counsel that exists in our long forgotten history, as Sobran put it, “to initiate the young into the conversation of their ancestors; to enable them to understand the language of that conversation…”

Graduates will seek a job and it’s true that a job is usually hard work.

What those graduates should remember is that freedom is the hardest work of all and the moment you lapse, you lose. Reject no reasonable voices when you jump into the world beyond academics. Listen to dissenting voices and decide for yourself what is logical, rational and above all, constitutional.

What you pass on to your children depends on what you yourself permit the powers who govern you to do today.

And remember this most of all—dissenting voices birthed this great nation at a time when tyranny was in fact always lurking just around the corner.

(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Mary 6, 2013)

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