August 29, 2006

Vote No-- The Government Says So

By Julian Dunraven

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has decided Colorado citizens need assistance from the federal government in deciding how to vote this November. Specifically, the DEA doesn’t want mere citizens getting confused about what’s good for them and voting to legalize something as terrible as possessing an ounce of marijuana. Thus, the federal government is condescending to inject itself into our state ballot process and campaign against this initiative. “DEA raises cash to fight pot issue.” Already, the DEA has $10,000 to spend on its campaigning efforts.

The agency tells us we shouldn’t worry about this, though, and that their efforts are completely legal. Given that the applicable law was designed to prevent the executive agencies from partisan campaigning, and did not contemplate non-partisan ballot initiatives, the DEA may in fact be correct that it is acting within the technical bounds of law, if not its spirit. Still, it is rather telling that the DEA’s campaign fund comes from private donations and not tax dollars, despite the DEA’s contention its actions are proper. Surely, if the agency directors are avoiding the use of tax money, it must occur to them on some level that their actions are wrong.

Whether one agrees with Amendment 44 or not, the actions of the DEA should worry us all. The executive branch of government is designed to enforce the laws. Yet, the executive branch has become so large, that Congress cannot possibly have time to deal with all the issues that arise as each executive department carries out its mandate. Thus, executive agencies have the power to create administrative policies and regulations in their spheres of influence that are every bit as binding as legislatively made law. Thus, they have taken on a good deal of legislative power as well as executive. Moreover, many federal agencies have their own administrative courts to oversee disputes arising from their actions, thus assuming judicial power. This is a huge collection of power in the executive branch. Now, the executive branch seeks even to assert itself into citizen law making processes by telling people how to vote. This is simply too much. We must restrain this behemoth, many headed monster that is the U.S. executive branch.

Now, to be fair, I do not doubt that the input of the DEA might be useful in debating Amendment 44. However, that input should be solicited by citizen opponents of the amendment. It is those independent citizens who should then be raising money to campaign against the amendment, and they who should decide how to use the DEA’s information in that campaign. The DEA and the executive branch of the federal government should not be intervening in our state elections to tell our people how it thinks we should vote. Last I checked, that sort of behavior was expected of Communist and Socialist regimes. In this country, the people are supposed to be telling the administration what to do—not the other way around.

We have grown used to a sort of nanny state in this country. We have decided that we want our government to provide certain programs as safeguards against our own stupidity. So be it. If, however, we now truly desire a state that eliminates even the need to think for ourselves, a state all to happy to tell us what our opinion should be, then we have no business calling ourselves a free country. We should simply shut up about those annoying things called civil liberties, take our state issued pacifiers, and let the government do whatever it thinks best. As I am not quite ready for permanent mental infancy, I think it would behoove Congress to amend the Hatch Act, and prevent the executive branch from campaigning period.

Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

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