from Charles C.W. Cooke in The National Review, Our Presidents Are Beginning to Act Like Kings
As Thomas Jefferson had it, “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” There are no new fights in politics.
Do we know this? In the United States, as in the rest of the Anglosphere, we seem to believe that we are the children of legislatures, not of kings; the beneficiaries of careful reasoning, not of iron will; the heirs to a safe political settlement immune to disintegration. That we are proud of our institutions is understandable. But our unshakeable confidence in their permanence is not. There is nothing written in the stars that secures in perpetuity our free system of laws. There are no stone tablets upon which legislative supremacy and judicial integrity are guaranteed against usurpation. Men’s hearts are no less ambitious this week than they were in the era of the pyramids.
John Adams characterized the office that Obama holds as enjoying “the whole executive power, after divesting it of those badges of domination called prerogatives.” In this assessment he was reflecting what might be regarded as the Founders’ central conceit: that when the laws that govern men’s fortunes are subject to the whims of the powerful rather than to the consent of the governed, there can be no liberty. Are we at liberty?
A tenet of the Progressive movement was a non partisan administrative state of educated and credentialed experts to handle complex matters considered beyond debate; what Wilson considered a unified will. The idea of a unified will is a myth- it is only unified within the confines of one group who inevitably uses government power to force others into compliance. The concept of a ‘unified will’ has a distinctly fascist whiff about it. This is the tyranny of central planning Hayek wrote about in The Road to Serfdom. But more important, as Cooke points out, this unelected group has grown into a fourth branch of govenment and has come to undo many of the protections the founding fathers carefully considered and wrote into the Constitution.
This piece is well worth the time to read in its entirety.