‘I just don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish.” So says Jim Hagen, South Dakota’s secretary of tourism, about the federal government’s blocking off not only the entrance to the Mount Rushmore monument but also roadside viewing areas outside the park. “They won’t even let you pull off on the side of the road,” he says, noting that this particular act of shutdown theater is damaging his state’s tourism economy and ruining the plans of countless travelers. Shutdowns are strangely labor-intensive things: After setting up traffic cones to block off the Mount Rushmore viewing areas, the feds had to pick them up again because of a blizzard, but apparently had plans to put them right back down again after the plowing is done. Perhaps Mr. Hagen has too gentle a cast of mind to appreciate just what the Obama administration is trying to accomplish: It is an act of political theater, a gross and possibly illegal abuse of political power, an assault on private property, and a wanton subjugation of responsible governance to the political interests of President Obama and his party.
Consider the case of Ralph and Joyce Spencer, 77 and 80 years of age, respectively, who were evicted from their home on Lake Mead in Nevada by an officious park ranger who told them they had 24 hours to vacate the premises. The Spencers own their home outright, but it sits on land leased from the federal government. A lease is a legal contract, and the government shutdown presents no legitimate reason for the violation of that contract. Even if it did, the place to settle such a dispute is in a court of law — not through the arbitrary exercise of federal police power. This is not a blunder: It is the malicious harassment of private citizens in their own homes by an administration intent on creating hardships and then using them for propaganda purposes. You own your home right up until the moment when that the fact becomes inconvenient to President Obama.