Former Congressman Bob Barr Makes Bid for President As Libertarian
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Yesterday, former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr announced his candidacy for President of the United States, running as a Libertarian Party Candidate. We have been in touch with Congressman Barr’s office, and are waiting on a formal press release. However, in the meantime, we have received permission to run this op-ed, written by Congressman Barr, for a January 22, 2008 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
To learn more about Bob Barr and his candidacy, log on to www.BobBarr2008.com
The Real ID Game of Chickenby Bob Barr January 22, 2008
Time and again since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our political leaders in Washington have promised us that in fighting against our enemies, we must not allow our own cherished freedoms and liberty to be compromised.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, for example, declared on Sept. 8, 2006, that in fighting terrorism we must never overreact so “we destroy our way of life in order to protect it.” My, how times change.
While the right to travel free of government constraints has long been considered a fundamental freedom in America, in the eyes of the current administration of George W. Bush and Mr. Chertoff, this clearly is no longer seen as the case. In recent remarks about carrying out the 2005 Real ID Act, Mr. Chertoff put state governments and American citizens alike on notice that no opposition would be tolerated in complying with the mandates of the federal law, even if it means citizens of those states expressing concerns about the law’s provisions will be unable to board commercial aircraft.
While disingenuously professing no desire to “punish” citizens because the government of the state in which they live might not be ready to jump onto the federal government’s Real ID bandwagon, Mr. Chertoff said this was precisely what the department would do.
In a refrain distressingly typical of how this administration routinely treats notions of federalism and individual liberty, last Friday Mr. Chertoff said, “The last thing I want to do is punish citizens of a state who would love to have a Real ID license but can’t get one, but in the end, the rule is the rule.”
In fact, the Real ID act rushed through Congress three years ago by the Republican majority in cahoots with a Republican president, presents serious financial and privacy concerns to the states; concerns that have not been addressed by our federal benefactors. The law details requirements for drivers’ licenses if they are to be accepted for air travel or any other purpose regulated or controlled in any way by a federal agency or a federal law.
In fact, a growing number of states — worried by the program’s burgeoning costs (estimated at up to $17 billion) and the specter of subjecting huge quantities of private information about citizens to access by the federal, other states’ and possibly foreign governments — have passed legislation opting out of the program or have set conditions for their participation.
States already taking such steps include Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.
The administration of George W. Bush, ever purporting to be guided by “conservative” principles of governance and always claiming to be respectful of states’ rights, has made it clear the states must either comply or suffer the consequences.
Over the last two years, the Department of Homeland Security has received many comments critical of the Real ID proposed regulations. In response, DHS has made some adjustments to the implementation timetable. For example, in the most recent modifications announced last week, the department agreed to “allow” states to phase in implementation over a longer period (until 2014 for drivers under 50 years of age, with three more years for those over 50). However, the feds have steadfastly refused to address all the privacy concerns raised by the states and others; and Congress has appropriated only a small fraction of the dollars the states maintain it would cost them to make the mandated changes.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Congress to settle this game of chicken between the federal government and the states, and either scrap the Real ID program altogether or significantly scale back its provisions. Thus far Congress — though under control of the Democratic Party, and likely to remain so at least through the next election cycle — has shown little inclination to stand up to the Bush administration fear-mongering that the sky will fall if our nation does not reverse its historic aversion to a national identification card.
Unless this situation changes, it will provide yet another clear example of how both major political parties remain firmly under control of Big Government advocates.