Dictatorship Won’t Kill America, The Rot Of Partisan Abuse Will

Dictatorship Won’t Kill America, The Rot Of Partisan Abuse Will

The other day Rachel Maddow, one of the most unhinged conspiracy theorists in major media, described Donald Trump’s alleged pitch to Republicans:

If you pick me, that’ll be the end of politics, and you won’t have to deal with politics anymore. You won’t have to deal with contested elections, you won’t have to deal with contests or divisions when it comes to power, you’ll have a strongman leader and I’ll just do what I want. And won’t that be a lot simpler? That’s what he’s offering. That strongman model is what the Republican base is enthused about.

Funny, because this also happens to be what Maddow is enthused about. It’s what the officials taking leading presidential candidates off ballots are enthused about. So is Joe Biden, who gives angry speeches demonizing opposition voters and demanding one-party rule. Everyone wants his own dictator. Every president wants to be one. Politics can turn normally rational people into raging authoritarians.

The thing about wanna-be dictators, though, is that they have no real way of pulling it off. Don’t get me wrong: the consequences of an imperial presidency are bad enough. But there will be no military coups in America. There will be no Hitler. No political riot is going to overthrow “democracy.” That’s all paranoia. The reality is much more mundane. It’s what we have now — a slow-motion, tedious corrosion of basic standards.

And both sides aren’t equally at fault. The things progressives detest most about our system—a deliberative Senate, federalism, counter-majoritarian institutions, various inconvenient liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, for starters—compel Trump to deal with “politics.”  

Here, for instance, is something I think most Democrats probably know but would never say: If a President Trump blatantly exceeded his constitutional authority, it is highly likely that “conservative” justices would stop him. Yet every time the court renders a decision undercutting the political agenda of the GOP, which is often, the media acts like it’s some big surprise. It’s not. And Trump, for all his bluster last term, didn’t ignore the courts.

Now, if Biden blatantly exceeded his executive authority, as he already often does, what are the chances that a “liberal” majority court would bless his actions? When you have no limiting principles, it all comes down to justifying the morality of the underlying issue. Considering the modern left’s collective superiority complex, that is never a difficult task.

We don’t really need to theorize about how this works, either. Many left-wing politicians and intellectuals — self-styled defenders of “democracy” — not only implore Biden to ignore courts, they press him to declare national emergencies empowering the president to run virtually the entire economy through a massive administrative state. If Trump threatened to take similar power, the media would be convulsing with horror.

Indeed, the contemporary left isn’t working to delegitimize the court because it harbors ethical concerns (the people leading the charge are corrupt), it’s because they want to circumvent a court that still occasionally limits state power and preserves American “democracy.”

Won’t that be a lot simpler? Maybe if Trump wins in 2024, he’ll figure out that the Federalist Society’s principled jurists make no political sense for him and nominate lightweight partisans like Sonia Sotomayor to uphold whatever crackpot theory he wants. Why not?

When the Supreme Court upheld the Civil Rights Act, eliminating racist preferences in schools, Biden said, “We cannot let this decision be the last word. I want to emphasize: We cannot let this decision be the last word.” That is something of a mantra for him.

A few years ago, Biden admitted he didn’t have the constitutional authority to extend (Trump’s) eviction moratorium. An extension would not “pass constitutional muster,” he said. The president, the administration noted, had “not only kicked the tires, he has double, triple, quadruple checked.”

It was illegal, and Biden did it anyway.  Congressional Democrats, tasked to protect the interests of their institution, cheered him on. The same goes for the obviously unconstitutional student loan bailout Biden keeps proposing. High-ranking Democrats, in fact, demand that Biden ignores the Constitution and separation of powers.

If Biden feels like he can dismiss SCOTUS on student loans, or anything else, why shouldn’t Texas ignore SCOTUS on protecting its borders? Maybe Texas should think about taking up the Biden method, which would entail erecting a new, slightly different fence every time the court shoots down the idea.  

All of it is reminiscent of Barack Obama telling Americans he couldn’t pass the DREAM Act because he was not a “king” or an “emperor,” and then doing it anyway. Indeed, the premise of the Obama presidency was the circumvention of “politics,” summed up neatly in the illiberal notion of political “unity.”

Once Obama lost control of Congress in 2010, he not only acted like a person who didn’t “have to deal with politics anymore,” he became the first president in memory to openly champion working around the law-making branch of government. “If Congress won’t act, I will,” he liked to say. People cheered.

Since then, every time Democrats can’t get their way, we are inundated with stories about how the system isn’t working correctly, rather than stories about how the contemporary left is destroying the system to fix the problem.

Now, I’m not naïve. Most voters couldn’t care less about these idealistic arguments. I don’t know “what time it is,” apparently. That said, protecting the system is not only a high-minded pursuit, it’s the most practical way to preserve your own policy achievements and freedoms.

But you can’t expect the opposition to play by rules when you refuse to honor them. You can’t lecture everyone about accepting elections when you won’t. And you can’t keep acting like you’re saving “democracy” when you’re murdering it.

I mean, you can. It seems like the more norm-busting degradation of the system you promise, the more popular you become these days. But that does not bode well for our future.  


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Originally Posted on: https://thefederalist.com/2024/01/24/dictatorship-wont-kill-america-the-rot-of-partisan-abuse-will/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dictatorship-wont-kill-america-the-rot-of-partisan-abuse-will
[By: David Harsanyi

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