…isn’t part of the deal.  (Sorry.)

“Let me ask whether every circumstance is not, on the contrary, strictly conformable to these principles, and scrupulously impartial to the rights and pretensions of every class and description of citizens?  Who are to be the electors of the federal representatives?  Not the rich, more than the poor; not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more than the humble sons of obscurity and unpropitious fortune.”

~ James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 57, 19 February 1788


The shocking part of the news that a government agency unfairly targeted certain groups to prevent them from receiving tax-exempt status isn’t the targeting part.  It’s the insanity that ANY such groups are tax-exempt to begin with.  Having an opinion and wanting to spread it doesn’t make one special.  Opinions are pretty common.  Groups promoting their ideas, be they on politics or anything else, aren’t anything new.  They don’t help society in any meaningful substantive fashion, nor do they have any inherent right to seek to influence the political process.  Why should they receive special status in a nation built on the principle that people and groups are all equal?  Having an opinion doesn’t make you special.  It certainly shouldn’t entitle a group to avoid paying taxes.  In fact, a big part of the intent of the entire American experiment is that no one person or group is supposed to receive special treatment from the government, either in a positive or negative fashion.

Even more to the point, all of these kinds of organizations besides enjoying a special tax-free status, are aimed at manipulating the political process.  Nowhere in the Constitution does it say ‘There will be special organizations to promote particular political goals’.  There’s a reason lobbies and other political groups (including parties) aren’t in the Constitution-they aren’t supposed to exist.  No one is supposed to have undue influence over the process, not any government agency or any political group.  It doesn’t matter if that group is a political party or a lobby or a group of concerned citizens.  No group is supposed to be special or gain special status where our political and government system is concerned.  That includes tax-exemption, something individual citizens don’t get to put in for.  Official government agencies should always be politically neutral.  But at the end of the day, no government agency should be in a position where they have to be the judges of such ‘special’ groups in the first place.  Because we are meant to be a nation where everyone is equal and no one person or group is special.


Res Publica


Documentation without Representation:

James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 57, 19 February 1788


Electronic Text Courtesy of The Avalon Project at Yale Law School

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