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Distrust of government is good for our republic

These are interesting times. The IRS has confessed to targeting tea party groups for extra scrutiny, but this behavior is hardly new. The administrations of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were all caught using the IRS for political purposes – and they’re just the ones we know about.

The Justice Department has been spying on reporters from Fox News and the Associated Press and our security agencies are storing mind-boggling amounts of data about the movements and communications of everyday citizens – you and me – just in case they need it someday. We have their word that this information won’t be abused.

In spite of this torrent of government misconduct, we have members of the chattering class who worry that Americans are becoming too cynical about their government and wonder how it can regain their trust. Regain? Why does it deserve our trust at all?

Our Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, is a testament to our founders’ profound cynicism with respect to all governments. This foundational document is basically a list of proscriptions and restraints on governmental actions that shows our country was born with a libertarian distrust of government power in its DNA. Pray we never lose it.

John Swanson

East Amherst