Here’s to You…Two Victories in the Bag – More to Come

By Tom DeWeese

America has changed over the past decade – a lot. Many of those changes have not been for the better. Federal and UN land grabs have threatened private property and national sovereignty. Psychology-driven behavior-modification programs are replacing basic academics in our schools. Police forces look more like invading armies than the blue knights dedicated to “Protect and Serve” the community. Massive data banks and computer profiles threaten our privacy. Americans are learning to fear their own government in what was once the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

Many of these scary intrusions have happened on the Republican watch, as three congresses controlled by them have freely supported and passed legislation to implement most of these programs. Conservatives have watched in horror as Republican congresses have capitulated, surrendered and whined over their own inability to stop the Clinton juggernaut. All the while the Republican leadership told us they had to act like Democrats because otherwise Clinton wouldn’t sign their legislation into law. It’s been a sad and frustrating commentary.

I once wrote in an article addressed to the Republican Congress entitled, Why the Right Mistrusts You, “Just once it would be nice to hear the other side complain that it dare not move forward with its agenda because ‘we’ll never get it passed by the Republican Congress.” “Then,” I said, “we would know that the Republicans had finally started fighting back.” That day may have finally arrived.

In the month of October, alone, Republicans have stood their ground, done the right thing – and won. Twice. These victories were huge. In fact, in my thirty years of fighting for limited government, individual liberty and a foreign policy that was in America’s interest, I have never participated in such important victories.

First, was the surprise victory to repeal the establishment of a national identification card. The American Policy Center ran a relentless campaign to expose and stop its implementation. The fact is the national ID was already federal law, having been passed in 1996 as the infamous section 656b of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act. The same section was also passed in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.

Section 656b was quietly slipped into both of those bills without hearings and without debate. No Congress would have passed such bills if it was known that the laws would lead to the establishment of a national ID. Yet, the bills were passed and states were ordered to redesign drivers’ licenses to comply with new federal guidelines, specifically using the social security number as a central identifying number that would tie all known computer records and federal data banks together. Without an approved driver’s license, Americans would not be able to open a bank account, get on an airplane, obtain federal medical services or buy a gun. The deadline for implementation was October 1, 2000.

But in a surprise move, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby quietly placed a provision to repeal section 656b in the Senate version of the1999 Transportation

Appropriations Bill. Meanwhile, the House passed its own Transportation Appropriations Bill, but it only contained language to withhold funding of the national ID card. That language would not have killed it.

Both bills then went into a “conference committee” where House and Senate members had to seek compromise on the different language. That’s when APC and a whole coalition of freedom fighters jumped into action. We generated a flood of phone calls and letters to Capitol Hill, demanding that the Senate’s “repeal” language remain in the Bill.

Your phone calls and letters made the difference by helping Senator Shelby and others hold firm. Together, we destroyed the apparatus to impose a national ID card. President Clinton even signed the repeal into law. So Big Brother lost and the forces of freedom won this round.

Second, for the first time in history, the U.S. Congress refused to ratify an arms – control treaty. On Wednesday, October 14, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to defeat the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The vote was seen as a huge defeat for Bill Clinton who was the first world leader to sign the treaty and who pleaded with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to delay the vote. Lott refused and the Republicans held together to vote it down.

Conservatives have long fought such treaties because we believe them to be a device to reduce U.S. security while strengthening our enemies. In the past, The United States signed onto almost any arms treaty proposed, even though it was clear such a move was against our national interest. But today, with Red China on the move and with rogue nations acquiring nuclear capabilities, the Senate argued that this treaty would do nothing to stop nuclear arms – it would only weaken American strength.

For one of the first times since World War II, the United States Congress made a positive move in favor of the interests of the United States. An astonishing victory for the forces of freedom.

In two vital votes, Republicans have learned that they can do the right thing, stand up to Bill Clinton and win. Perhaps a backbone is beginning to emerge in the halls of Congress. In fact, with less than two months to go in this final year of the Twentieth Century, I would consider it a very good legislative session if we could now stop Clinton’s new federalism Executive Order #13132 and keep U.S. troops in Panama. Hang in there and fight – it can still happen.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.