Arrogance No Substitute for Real Conversation

Sigh. Poor communication skills seem to be one of the few things the American government excels at. In spite of 29 states introducing legislation, and six actually passing bills against its implementation, the federal government is moving ahead with its REAL ID program. I’ve written about REAL ID issues in the past. However, this time it’s the federal government’s arrogance that baffles me.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, citizens of states that have balked at implementing the national ID authentication program will face some difficulty starting in May when anyone with a non-compliant ID won’t be allowed to board a plane or enter a federal building. Consider the following that came from an official spokesman:

“Come May 2008, [their] citizens . . . will feel the consequences” of the states’ resistance, Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said Friday. (link)

Feel the consequences? Last I checked, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claimed that REAL ID wasn’t about creating a national ID card. Doesn’t that mean that states still have the right to determine how they issue their driver’s licenses? Combine this fact with the ominous mention of “consequences,” and I’m wondering at the federal government’s marketing strategy. How do they expect to convince anyone? Or do they only plan on ramming it through with brute force? Personally, I’m betting on the latter given the federal government’s past behavior.

I’m still stuck on an official spokesman throwing around threats of “consequences” for state’s exercising their constitutional rights. Stop trying to scare me (“For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons”) and engage me as a citizen with a brain. Clearly there’s a reason to question the program. Otherwise, why are over half the states introducing, and in some cases passing, legislation putting a halt to it? The small, optimistic part of me hopes that things improve after the next election, but I have a hard time believing that any candidate is genuinely interested in rolling back government power and oversight. I wish that governments, like businesses, understood that you need conversation to stay relevant. Arrogance won’t cut it.



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January 2008
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