One of the silver linings of the Obama era for conservatives, I think, will be the wrecking ball that’s been delivered to American trust in government. From the IRS scandal to the stimulus spending to “cash for clunkers” to the NSA’s domestic spying to the Obamacare clusterfark, Americans have been given an object lesson why it’s hard to trust big government.
The latest manifestation of this attitude may be popular outrage over voluntary NHTSA which has local law enforcement stopping people on the road and asking them to submit to voluntary DNA, breathalyzer and/or blood analysis.
The program isn’t new – it’s been going on for four decades – but it’s caught the attention of Americans recently, and they aren’t happy. They’re so unhappy, in fact, that law enforcement agencies that have cooperated in the past are pulling out:
“Five years ago it would have been a different story,” says St. Charles County, Mo., Sheriff Tom Neer, who recently authorized deputies to participate in a checkpoint in his St. Louis suburb and saw a public backlash. “There’re just such strong anti-government feelings among people. Under the circumstances, I would not allow them to do it again. It’s just because of the perception.”
The NHTSA has conducted the surveys for more than 40 years, in cities across the USA and usually at roughly 10-year intervals. In many cases, off-duty, uniformed police officers randomly wave motorists over; they are then asked by workers for subcontractor Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation if they will participate in the voluntary survey. Drivers who decline are allowed to leave.
A friend of mine from Missouri told me about these programs a couple of weeks ago. I had never heard of them before, and I was surprised they hadn’t sparked controversy previously.
It’s a testament, I think, to just how fed up Americans are getting with government intrusion in every aspect of their lives. And, as a proponent of limited government, I can’t help but feel that’s a good thing.