Politics & Policy

The Modern Left Doesn’t Care About FOIA — or Much Else, Really.

You can see a generation gap on the left in this bit of MSNBC spotlighted by Hot Air’s Noah Rothman.

Why do we have the Freedom of Information Act, official record-keeping regulations and other sunshine laws? Because of the belief that when government activities are open and visible to the public, government does a better job. It keeps government officials on the straight and narrow, less likely to engage in corrupt activities, and provides accountability for decision-making.

Lawrence O’Donnell points out that openness and accountability in government are, or once were, liberal values:

Hillary Clinton’s system was designed to defy Freedom of Information Act requests, which is designed to defy the law. The Freedom of Information Act, and all its government transparency, which we obviously care about a lot more than voters do, that was a decades-long liberal crusade. It was liberals pushing on this from the Nixon administration forward, to say ‘There’s too much nasty stuff going on back there, we gotta find out how this is really working.’ So its of every one of these regulations — the regulation that Hillary Clinton was defying — is a liberal regulation. It is of a liberal spirit.

Openness and accountability are key parts of the liberal belief that government can be a force for good that helps people — in fact, a necessity.

Most of this is lost on Alex Wagner — a.k.a., Mrs. Sam Kass, the White House chef; Barack Obama attended her wedding. She may be the Washington journalist most closely connected to the Obama administration.

The old-school Left started with a vision of how government should operate and determined policies forward from there. The modern Left starts with the conclusion that their guys are the good guys, and Republicans and conservatives are the bad guys, and works backwards from there. “Government openness” is a useful cudgel when complaining about Karl Rove’s e-mails in the Bush White House, but an absolute non-concern when it comes to the likely Democratic presidential nominee.

Lawrence O’Donnell cares that a rule put in place by liberals is followed because of the desired good outcome — open, accountable government. Alex Wagner cares about beating Republicans.

A major effort of the Right in recent years has been documenting and exposing how progressives don’t live up to their own rhetoric. But progressives don’t live up to their own rules, and they don’t particularly care. Progressives largely shrug when Democrats make racially insensitive comments, hire un-diverse staffs and non-union labor, pay less than minimum wage, carry guns or hire armed bodyguards while calling for gun control, cheat on their taxes, send their kids to private school while opposing vouchers, and so on.

The purpose of the rules is not really to provide common guidelines for everyone. The purpose of the rules to impede the wrong or bad people, not the progressive aristocracy.

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