Why your vote doesn’t matter

By Henry Lamb

Every two years, we go through the election exercise, choosing the people who will cast votes to create the laws by which we are governed. This procedure gives meaning to the oft-quoted phrase “legitimate government is empowered by the consent of the governed.” Our vote is our consent for our representative to do pretty much whatever he chooses for the term of his election.

If our representative makes bad choices, he can be unelected, or recalled. What a concept: Elected representatives who are accountable to the people who elected them.

The concept is still valid; it has, however, been circumvented. Our system of government has been completely transformed. Public policy is no longer made by elected officials. Public policy is made by appointed professionals and bureaucrats and rubber-stamped by elected officials.

Elected officials closest to the people who are governed, are least able to make public policy. City councils, county commissions, and local school boards have had their power to make public policy taken away by higher levels of government.

In 1976, when Florida’s Comprehensive Land Use Planning Act was adopted, the argument was that counties are political subdivisions of the state, and therefore subject to state control. County commissioners are required to comply with laws enacted by the state. Federal law trumps state law. Therefore, the state must conform its laws to whatever Congress decrees.

Ocie Mills had a county-issued building permit and approval from the State Department of Environmental Protection before he dumped 19 loads of building sand on his private property, preparing to build a home for his son. The feds said his private property was a “wetland” – waters of the United States – which the building sand polluted. The judge would not allow Ocie to introduce his local building permit, or evidence of the state’s approval, because federal law trumps local and state law. Ocie and his son spent nearly two years in a federal prison.

The “law” which put Ocie in jail was promulgated through a consent decree negotiated to settle the National Wildlife Federation’s friendly lawsuit against the federal government, based on a 1972 law which did not contain the word “wetland.”

No elected official can be held accountable on Election Day for this abuse of government power.

Government agency officials work closely with the professional staff of environmental organizations in “public/private partnerships” to develop public policy. In virtually every community, there are various “councils” and “commissions” appointed by elected officials to devise the policies to be adopted. This process is supposed to gather the will of the people, but it is actually designed to avoid the will of the people, and incorporate the objectives of the environmental professionals and agency officials.

Ordinary citizens who attend meetings of these “visioning” and “watershed” and “stakeholder” councils, report that without exception, they are dominated by agency and environmental professionals, led by a professional facilitator.

The people who are governed by the laws and policies these councils develop, never have the opportunity to express their consent. If they “unelect” their local elected officials, it doesn’t matter. The process goes on and the new elected official has no choice but to go along with the system.

This process is not an accident. Nor is it confined to local communities. It has taken decades to perfect this system which begins at the international level, works very effectively at the national and state level, and is now permeating virtually every local community.

International treaties are developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, whose members are environmental organizations and government agencies. Federal law is increasingly written by organizations such as the American Planning Association, which received millions in federal grants to develop “Growing Smart: Legislative Guidebook.” Florida’s Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was developed by environmental organizations and agency bureaucrats.

Elected officials are becoming irrelevant in policy development. They simply provide the funds to others who develop policy, rubber stamp the policy, and then provide the funds to enforce it.

Candidates who buck the system, or protest these procedures, are demonized as right-wing radicals. Environmental organizations are quick to label any candidate, or official who fails to support their agenda, as “anti-environmental.”

Consequently, we have seen our system of government transformed to the point that the consent of the governed is no longer what empowers government. When government exercises power amassed from any source other than the consent of the governed, it is no longer a legitimate government – as defined by our founders. In their wisdom, our founders recognized that a little rebellion from time to time, is necessary to keep the Republic on track.