How to Bring the Right (Yes, All of Them) Together
If there's one foundational lesson for conservatives of various stripes to glean from the recent revelations about the atrocities routinely committed by the IRS, it's that there are reasons the Founders considered property rights among the most sacred of all rights -- and rights that a limited government must protect. Several groups focused on "values voters" and "moral issues" have learned recently just how difficult it is to accomplish anything for their values when the IRS is using the awesome weight of a massive federal government to confiscate resources, perform harassment audits, and withhold non-profit status.
Succinctly, if the IRS owns your property, the IRS owns you to a great extent, and you are of limited value to anyone or any cause you hold dear. Property is what we exchange our time and your talent for -- in other words, what we have bartered for part of our life. Thus, we should consider property rights as "the sanctity of life outside the womb." It too, is precious, and is indeed a moral issue -- not merely a "fiscal" one, though you rarely here it couched in such terms.
Dr. James Dobson is now learning how impotent even his extraordinary organization can become when being bureaucratically "Gosnelled" by the IRS. As his son Ryan recently told TheBlaze, their organization was put through a grueling 18-month ordeal in attempting to obtain approval for a 501(c)(4), even though the application was routine for Dobson, and they were being represented by an attorney with 26 years of non-profit experience.
"There were all kinds of questions, ones we've never seen before" said Dobson, who added that "we inquired about our status[; the agent] said she was probably going to recommend that our application not be [granted]. She said we were political and we had criticized President Obama ... and she said we did it when he was a candidate."
After admitting that this made his "hair curl," Dobson concluded that "we're just trampling the Constitution. It's bullying. It's just a straight bully tactic. ... [T]hat's not the country our forefathers foresaw."
And this is the point. As demonstrated with the bullying of Chick-fil-A in the summer of 2012, when several mayors and city councilmen used the permit power of government and the bully pulpit to threaten that private corporation publicly, the salient issue is the abuse of government power. Whether or not libertines agree with CEO Dan Cathy's stance on traditional marriage, and whether or not they approve of the work being done by Dobson's Focus on the Family organization, they should agree that government treatment of both is appalling.
Meanwhile, it would be helpful if organizations focused on "values issues" would recognize the critical values represented by property-related issues and stop relegating these issues of liberty to a status of merely being "fiscal issues" -- something a fair amount of values organizations and voters do on talk radio, in message boards, and in voter outreach.
Of course, it is important to point out that the fearful and isolated Republican establishment is as deaf to this opportunity as anybody else. With the Chick-fil-A situation offering a golden opportunity to the Mitt Romney Campaign, the RNC, and other Republicans -- namely, to rally many often disparate conservative groups -- Romney sprinted to the microphones to proclaim that the Chick-fil-A issue "is not part of my campaign."
Obviously, the consultant driven campaign was afraid of offending soccer moms in southern Ohio, which apparently happens whenever Republicans actually tell the truth about the philosophies and realities of big-government liberalism in application. This is a fear that conservatives must get over. We must all recognize the critical connection of property rights and limited government with all of our issues, regardless of which specific issues drive us individually.
Founder John Adams stated that "the moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God ... anarchy and tyranny commence." He also said famously that "our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people." The two are not contradictory; either we embrace both, or "we're all being audited now."
C. Edmund Wright is author of WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost...Again. He gave the keynote speech to the Florida Tea Party Convention in 2011 on property rights being what all conservatives have in common.