Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.
OPINION – The dividing line in many of the Utah Republican caucuses last week was whether or not Sen. Orrin Hatch should be re-elected to his seventh term.
Hatch supporters are adamant that they don’t want to lose his seniority in the U.S. Senate along with his political clout in Washington D.C. Industries and individuals hoping to benefit from Hatch’s leadership are counting on the senator to use his considerable influence with the federal government to give them political benefits or protection.
At the root of this type of thinking is the presumption that there’s something in it for them. And therein lies the problem.
The only way to accrue the kind of standing and power that Orrin Hatch ostensibly wields is by gaining the acceptance of Beltway power brokers. The price of that acceptance has required Senator Hatch to show allegiance to Washington D.C. rather than the state of Utah.
This explains, in part, how a senator who is perceived as a conservative champion of constitutional government could lend his support to policies that favor Washington at the expense of the states and their citizens.
During his time in Washington D.C., Hatch has supported bailouts of Wall Street, the auto industry, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He has expanded the federal government’s role over healthcare. While championing the cause of a balanced federal budget, Hatch has voted to raise the federal debt limit sixteen times.
But most disturbing of all, Hatch has voted for blatantly unconstitutional expansions of federal power like the recent National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA. Under the guise of funding U.S. military operations worldwide, S. 1867 also contained language allowing the Executive branch to indefinitely detain any person, anywhere in the world, without due process or trial. This is in addition to supporting the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commission Act of 2006, and a host of other legislative initiatives that have created a burgeoning police state here at home.
In each of these examples, Sen. Hatch used his allegiance to enlarge and consolidate the power of the federal government. His mollifying words and lyrics regarding love of freedom, preservation of liberty and constitutional government simply do not align with his actions. This doesn’t make him malicious or ignorant, but it does illustrate a growing imbalance of power that has been developing for nearly 100 years.
The 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, changed the way that federal senators were elected to the Senate. Prior to this amendment, senators were either elected or appointed by the legislatures of their respective states. Under the 17th Amendment, senators are now elected by popular vote.
While on the surface this seems to give the people a voice they previously lacked, in reality it was one of the final nails in the coffin of state representation at the federal level. When senators were directly accountable to the legislators of the states, their allegiance, and therefore their representation, naturally leaned toward their state’s interests. But when that accountability was removed, their allegiance predictably shifted to the federal government and the interests within the Beltway.
Senator Hatch could be the poster boy for how this shift has created a body of national legislators who act and think more like a type of political royalty than as statesmen protecting the interests of their home states.
With runaway federal spending growing the national debt to over $15 trillion in just a few short years, it’s clear that Washington D.C.’s spending habits are unsustainable in the long term. But that hasn’t discouraged favor-seekers from trying to milk the system for all its worth before the party comes to an end. They are less concerned about the principles of good government than they are about using Senator Hatch’s influence to gain benefits.
On the other hand, there are voters who recognize that the only long-term fix for our nation’s woes is found in upholding the Constitution, limiting government and preserving principles of individual liberty. These constituents can no longer give their support to a man that has sworn to uphold the Constitution but has repeatedly violated it instead.
Hatch’s Senate race will ultimately establish whether Utah voters are more interested in power or principle
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.