In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
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First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

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U.S. Politics in the Age of Instability Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, June 19 2014
The Obama presidency is slipping out of control.

One of the most peculiar facts about American exceptionalism is that we know it exists precisely because so many Americans are blind to its effects. Consider, for instance, all of the factors — each of them luxuries by historical standards — that Americans take for granted: power will peacefully be transferred from one political party to another after an election; American soil will be free from foreign invasion; even when economic growth is muted, we can still rely on a future where our standard of living will be beyond the wildest dreams of virtually all people at all times in human history. That these things happen is exceptional; that we barely notice them all the more so.

The United States is such a stable nation we have the temerity to refer to elections where one party makes significant gains as “revolutions.” Try explaining that to someone from a country where a “revolution” means total social upheaval — and bodies strung from lampposts.

Yes, we’ve had our occasional moments of real domestic chaos, of which the Civil War is surely the greatest example — but those are exceptions to the rule. Even the war we called a “revolution” didn’t deserve the name — it was a fundamentally preservationist effort to secure existing rights and liberties, not a sweeping rearrangement of the social order. 

Even the second half of the twentieth century — a time of tremendous social change — was, in some sense, remarkable for its political continuity, with presidents from opposing parties cementing each other’s legacies.

Dwight Eisenhower consolidated Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal rather than attempting to upend it. Richard Nixon expanded upon Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society instead of aiming to repeal it. Bill Clinton made precious little effort to unspool the Reagan Revolution.

Democrats controlled the House of Representatives without interruption for the 40 years from 1955 to 1995. For 34 of those years, they also had control of the Senate. The White House, by contrast, leaned the other way. In just over half a century (From 1952 to 2004), Republicans won nine of 14 presidential elections. America changed much in that time, to be sure, but never seemed to stray too far from political equilibrium.

Now consider, by contrast, the record of the last few years. In 2006 and 2008 Democrats racked up huge gains in Congress — in the former year, they added 31 seats in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate; in the latter, 21 in the House and eight in the Senate. Yet by 2010, that tide had gone out, with Republicans picking up an astonishing 63 House seats and six spots in the Senate, in addition to netting six new governor’s seats and 20 new majorities in state legislative chambers (marking the largest percentage of Republicans serving as state lawmakers since 1928). By most readings, it looks like 2014 will be another banner year for the GOP — one that’s likely to restore their control of the U.S. Senate.

The presidency has grown similarly tumultuous. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush registered the highest presidential approval rating in the modern era (90%). By the time the financial crisis was wreaking havoc on the final days of his presidency, he had one of the lowest on record (25%). Barack Obama, enjoying what appeared to be a wave of national unity, came to office with nearly 70 percent approval. He’s already dipped into the high 30s on several occasions and is likely headed back, given the chaos that’s beset his presidency in recent months.

Indeed, it’s a testimony to just how dire things have gotten for Obama that the two factors that have most dogged his presidency — the perpetually weak economy and ObamaCare — barely merit notice in an environment where more bad news arrives on a daily basis.

The past few months alone have seen the Soviet invasion of Ukraine, the empaneling of a special committee on Benghazi, the Bowe Bergdahl controversy, the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs, suspicious claims that the IRS lost documents related to the harassment of conservative non-profit groups and the chaos that is now gripping Iraq. The Obama presidency is slipping out of control.

Though ours is a country still blessed with remarkable stability by global and historical standards, we’re in the midst of an extremely volatile period in American political history. A few years ago, voters threw Republicans out of Congress at historic levels. Now they’re doing the same to Democrats. A few years ago, a Republican president seemed to have permanently damaged his party’s claims to competence. Now a Democratic president is leading his party down the same path.

Everything Americans had held constant for decades — our economic preeminence, our military power, our social mores — now seems increasingly uncertain. Anyone who tells you they know where American politics is going over the next generation — over the next few years, for that matter — is lying. We’re living in an age of profound political instability. And the only thing that’s certain is that no one — Democrat or Republican — will be safe from the voters’ wrath.

Question of the Week   
On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists using which one of the following?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"The Democrats, after all, have shown themselves to be thoroughgoing authoritarians. Many of our progressive friends spent the Obama years lecturing us that opposition to the president and his agenda was tantamount to sedition or treason. They tell us now that failing to knuckle under to their political agenda is treason. Democratic prosecutors have been conducting investigations of companies and…[more]
 
 
—Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
— Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
 
Liberty Poll   

Is the desire to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in conflict with the lessons of September 11, 2001?