More big brother.

Joe Soucheray: Real ID just another way for feds to track us

By Joe Soucheray
POSTED: 09/26/2015 11:37:18 AM CDT | UPDATED: 111 MIN. AGO

Because the federal government might not believe I am who I say I am, I will be required to have a Real ID. I don’t even think that’s an acronym for anything. It just means that the federal government will coordinate my identity with the state.

Yes, of course, I am predisposed to think of this as creepy. I’ve got a birth certificate, a passport and a driver’s license. If that isn’t good enough for the feds, they can verify that I pay taxes in my own name. I apparently won’t need a Real ID to vote. No, voting requires nothing more from a participant than perhaps a dry-cleaning receipt or a utility bill or somebody to say: “Yup, that’s Bill Smith. He is who he says he is.”

But when it comes to work-a-day normal Americans trying to lead their lives and follow all the rules, the federal government is telling the states, “we want to join you in identifying your citizens. We’ll take care of it. You pay for it, or most of it, but we just want to be a part of your team.”

Minnesota has been one of three states holding out against the federal demand. Our legislators were to be commended for that, but the 2016 deadline for compliance by all states is looming and Gov. Dayton wants the lawmakers to remove the ban even if it means calling a special session.

We can probably get away without having a Real ID, except for the fact that you might want to get on an airplane next year. In the coming year, a Real ID will be required for air travel, just as a Real ID is already required at, say, a nuclear power plant.

Proponents of this latest brainstorm from the Department of Homeland Security believe that Real ID will make sure that state licenses conform to at least minimal standards, which will help keep fraud down and licenses out of the hands of would-be-terrorists. Do you think people who fly airplanes into buildings or shoot up a shopping mall are going to worry about a Real ID?

I am being told then that my current license does not conform to minimal standards, by which they mean federal standards. Well, what have I been doing at the license bureau all these years?

And if you are of the mind to believe that this is but a minimal intrusion into your privacy, that it’s just another little safety-net device for the federal government to be confident of your identity, would you then at least agree that identification requirements for voting are impossibly lax?

Will hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters who are here illegally be required to have the Real ID?

Not being a proponent puts me in league with those who believe that the federal government is intruding into yet another state right and that it certainly makes it easier for the federal government to track our movements, when freedom of movement is one of our most cherished privileges.
I am not going black-helicopter here, and I find it just as easy as the next person to say, “Let them track me, I have nothing to hide.”

It doesn’t feel American. Increasingly, it doesn’t feel like a government of and by the people, but a government overseeing the people and requiring them to “carry papers.”

Not that we aren’t on any variety of government rolls already, but this smacks of creating a new federal data bank of all us average Joes to make it easier for the federal government to act in case we get out of line.

There’s the rub. If it is a government overseeing us then it will be a government that determines what constitutes being out of line. Too bad Dayton is caving because Minnesota was right to object.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at or 651-228-5474. Soucheray is heard from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays on 1500ESPN.

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