While the Republicans are trying to destroy each other, President Obama has seized the opportunity to govern as an autocrat.
Obama knows a power vacuum when he sees it. He has profited from Republican disarray.
Fred Siegel and Joel Kotkin explain it well: “’I refuse to take “No” for an answer,’ said President Obama this week as he claimed new powers for himself in making recess appointments while Congress wasn’t legally in recess. The chief executive’s power grab in naming appointees to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board has been depicted by administration supporters as one forced upon a reluctant Obama by Republican intransigence. But this isn’t the first example of the president’s increasing tendency to govern with executive-branch powers. He has already explained that ‘where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves.’ On a variety of issues, from immigration to the environment to labor law, that’s just what he’s been doing—and he may try it even more boldly should he win reelection. This ‘go it alone’ philosophy reflects an authoritarian trend emerging on the political left since the conservative triumph in the 2010 elections.”
After the 1994 election Bill Clinton read the mood of the electorate and shifted toward the center.
After the 2010 election Barack Obama looked at the results and decided that the American people were too stupid to govern themselves. He has offered a new form of progressive politics: one that allows the enlightened elites to govern at will.
So much for the constitution.
Siegel and Kotkin write: “The president and his coterie could have responded to the 2010 elections by conceding the widespread public hostility to excessive government spending and regulation. That’s what the more clued-in Clintonites did after their 1994 midterm defeats. But unlike Clinton, who came from the party’s moderate wing and hailed from the rural South, the highly urban progressive rump that is Obama’s true base of support has little appreciation for suburban or rural Democrats. In fact, some liberals even celebrated the 2010 demise of the Blue Dog and Plains States Democrats, concluding that the purged party could embrace a purer version of the liberal agenda. So instead of appealing to the middle, the White House has pressed ahead with Keynesian spending and a progressive regulatory agenda.”
The authors compare today’s Democratic Party to a group of fanatical mullahs. Convinced of the rightness of their dogmas, unwilling to compromise or debate basic principles, they have no problem forcing everyone to live as they want them to live.
Instead of referring to Holy Writ, they invoke the authority of scientific dogma. They consistently fail to notice that scientific dogma is a contradiction in terms.
The authors analyze the situation: “Their authoritarian progressivism—at odds with the democratic, pluralistic traditions within liberalism—tends to evoke science, however contested, to justify its authority. The progressives themselves are, in Daniel Bell’s telling phrase, ‘the priests of the machine.’ Their views are fairly uniform and can be seen in ‘progressive legal theory,’ which displaces the seeming plain meaning of the Constitution with constructions derived from the perceived needs of a changing political environment. Belief in affirmative action, environmental justice, health-care reform, and redistribution from the middle class to the poor all find foundation there. More important still is a radical environmental agenda fervently committed to the idea that climate change has a human origin—a kind of secular notion of original sin. But these ideas are not widely shared by most people.”
Most people do not share these ideas, but most people have been cowed into acquiescence.
If Obama wins re-election, the authors posit, the situation will get worse. The authors paint a nightmarish picture: “A victorious Obama administration could embrace a soft version of the Chinese model. The mechanisms of control already exist. The bureaucratic apparatus, the array of policy czars and regulatory enforcers commissioned by the executive branch, has grown dramatically under Obama. Their ability to control and prosecute people for violations relating to issues like labor and the environment—once largely the province of states and localities—can be further enhanced. In the post-election environment, the president, using agencies like the EPA, could successfully strangle whole industries—notably the burgeoning oil and natural gas sector—and drag whole regions into recession. The newly announced EPA rules on extremely small levels of mercury and other toxins, for example, will sharply raise electricity rates in much of the country, particularly in the industrial heartland; greenhouse-gas policy, including, perhaps, an administratively imposed “cap and trade,” would greatly impact entrepreneurs and new investors forced to purchase credits from existing polluters. On a host of social issues, the new progressive regime could employ the Justice Department to impose national rulings well out of sync with local sentiments. Expansions of affirmative action, gay rights, and abortion rights could become mandated from Washington even in areas, such as the South, where such views are anathema.”
Who, pray tell, is standing up to this new authoritarianism? The authors see today’s Republican Party as “a disgruntled, alienated opposition lacking strong, intelligent leadership.”
Mitt Romney’s Republican Party is divided and disgruntled. An excellent manager and consultant, Romney is poorly placed to provide political leadership.