In The Federalist No. 51, James Madison wrote in defense of a constitution that would establish a system of checks and balances to constrain the government’s oppression of the public. Madison eloquently stated, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
The Founding Fathers understood that for democracy to work, each branch of government must be held accountable both to the people and to each other. They set up a structure to reflect this understanding and protect the American people against the concentration of power in a single branch. This was not to enable “political witch hunts” or provide a bully pulpit to conspiracy theorists; this was to preserve the long-term viability of system of government.
Imagine what our founders would think of our government today. The Obama Administration has shown utter disregard and disrespect for the duty of Congress to provide meaningful oversight of the Executive Branch. President Obama promised to run one of the most transparent administrations in history. Yet, on issue after issue, this administration and their allies in Congress stonewall any legitimate effort to hold them accountable for potential overreach and dismiss these efforts as nothing more than “partisan politics.”
Ensuring the American people know what really happened in Benghazi is not “partisan politics.” Reasonable efforts to get the full story about the IRS targeting groups based on their political beliefs are not part of a “political witch hunt.” Instead, these are examples of the founders’ vision at work: one branch exercising its oversight over another. This week, we took necessary measures to hold this administration accountable. On Wednesday, I supported a resolution to hold Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations group at the IRS, in contempt of Congress for her role in the IRS targeting of conservative groups and her refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It is unfortunate it had to come to this, but the facts are very clear that the IRS deliberately targeted conservative groups to delay or in some cases deny their right to advocate their beliefs. This goes against the very nature of our democracy and is an appalling breach of the public’s trust. Ms. Lerner and the administration have repeatedly refused to comply with oversight efforts and the American people deserve justice.
On Thursday, I also supported a resolution to create a select committee to investigate the terrorist attacks on our consulate in Benghazi that tragically resulted in the death of four brave Americans. Last year, I joined 190 of my colleagues to co-sponsor H.Res.36 calling for a Select Committee. Emails surfaced this week suggesting what we’ve suspected all along: the White House was directly and deliberately involved in pushing a false narrative in order to shield the President from criticism before the last election. We need to know why Secretary Kerry failed to comply with a subpoena to turn over these emails. The American people deserve the truth about Benghazi and I hope this committee will finally bring justice to our fallen heroes and their families.
In no way am I interested in concocting conspiracy theories to gin up political enthusiasm. I’m only interested in the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If this Administration is so intent that there is nothing to hide, they should have a similar interest to put all the facts out there and let the American people decide for themselves.