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  • The Democratic Party and the Drive for Unlimited Government Power

    Posted by David Foster on November 21st, 2013 (All posts by )

    Majority Leader Harry Reid has succeeded in getting the Senate to change the rules such that most of Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominees no longer need to clear a 60-vote threshold to reach the Senate floor and get an up-or-down vote.

    This action is simply one more manifestation of the Democrats’ hostility toward any limitations on government power…at least, any limitations of government power as long as they are in control (which they clearly intend to be for a long, long time.)

    While the Obama administration is clearly more hostile toward the institutions of American democracy than even most previous Democratic presidents have been, still, the desire of Democrats to remove constraints on government power goes back a long ways. As I noted in a comment to this post, Woodrow Wilson believed that separation of powers was obsolete…he argued for this viewpoint based on extremely simplistic reasoning about the “organic” nature of government and the assertion that an organism could not have “organs offset against each other as checks, and live.” (As I also noted in the same comment thread, one would think that anyone who had run any kind of organization would understand the need for “organs offset against each other as checks.” even at the simple level of an auditing department and the separation of payment authorization from payment execution…and, of course, the concepts of feedback control and homeostasis clearly demonstrate the need for those “organs offset against each other” in any complex system.)

    Also in the same thread, Vader cited someone who had said that Wilson’s belief in his own moral righteousness was so great as to approach mental illness. This is clearly also true of Obama, probably to an even greater degree than it was true of Wilson. And people with this level of arrogance, of course, tend to be especially impatient of any restraints on their power.

    But it goes far beyond Obama himself. The growth of educational credentialism has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people who believe that their college degrees…entirely irrespective of any actual accomplishments that they have made or actual knowledge that they possess…have given them preternatural wisdom and hence they right and duty to control the lives of their less-enlightened countrymen.

    American democracy is in grave danger. The 2014 elections will probably be the last chance to keep this country..and the world…from going down a very dark path. I’m reminded of a speech Winston Churchill gave during the years of appeasement, specifically in March 1938, in which he spoke of Britain and its allies:

    descending incontinently, recklessly, the staircase which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad staircase at the beginning, but, after a bit, the carpet ends. A little further on there are only flagstones, and, a little further on still, these break beneath your feet.

    See also my related post When law yields to absolute power.

     

    21 Responses to “The Democratic Party and the Drive for Unlimited Government Power”

    1. David Foster Says:

      Bookworm has a post on the Senate rule change.

    2. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      If we have honest elections in 2014, and if the Democrats should lose the Senate; they will reinstate the filibuster before the new Senate comes in, hoping that the Republicans will not retaliate out of fear of being called nasty things by Democrats and the media [major overlap there].

      Retaliation, sadly, is the only rational response. The line has been crossed. Just as the House of Lords in Britain can only delay, and the lower house runs things; the final loss of the delays implicit in the Senate procedural rules pushes us even farther away from being a Republic.

      Also, sadly, the Institutional Republicans are not rational. I expect them to forgo the opportunity to strike back if somehow they get the Senate.

      Subotai Bahadur

    3. veryretired Says:

      I’m afraid we are in the late 1840′s heading toward 1860 at breakneck speed. Not to another civil war in the same sense, but to a complete collapse of the governing agreements, and probably a significant political realignment, including new parties regardless of the names used.

      We are adrift from the traditional grounding in a firm commitment to the constitution and federalist separation that allowed the differing communities of the country to co-exist.

      Over-arching federal intrusion into every social issue and aspect of life destroys the remoteness of the state’s heavy hand, brings it down on the neck of everyone, and ignites a spirit of rebelliousness that is inherent in the American psyche.

      The turmoil of today will be remembered fondly in the future as a fairly calm period before the real storm began.

    4. MikeK Says:

      Woodrow Wilson presided over our first fascist government. This is our second. Where are Harding and Coolidge when you need them.?

    5. David Foster Says:

      More thoughts on the political implications of this action from Phineas, at Sister Toldjah’s site>.

    6. MikeK Says:

      The Democrats filibustered Miguel Estrada to keep him off the Appeals Court so he would not be a potential USSC nominee. They were keeping the first Hispanic seat warm for the “Wise Latina.” A big loss for the country.

      I wonder how many disgruntled conservatives who stayed home last November are happy with this.

    7. Richard Cranium Says:

      “I wonder how many disgruntled conservatives who stayed home last November are happy with this.”

      I wonder how many of the GOP leadership who chose to run Romney are happy with this?

    8. pst314 Says:

      “a complete collapse of the governing agreements”

      Obama inspired liberals to take of their benevolent mask to reveal the fascist within. I no longer believe in the decency of liberals–not in the slightest. Liberalism is inherently and incurably fascistic. Therefore, there is no moral basis for a social for seeing liberals as fellow citizens.

    9. Xennady Says:

      MikeK,

      As one of those disgruntled conservatives- although I did not stay home- I wouldn’t be nearly so disgruntled if George Bush and the GOP establishment had actually gone to the mat to get Miguel Estrada confirmed, as Harry Reid has done now for an upcoming assortment of leftist radicals.

      Instead, the GOP left Estrada twisting in the wind, subject to an endless stream of vile lies and accusations, until- if I recall- he withdrew his name from consideration.

      That’s failure, and it has been the hallmark of the Republican establishment.

      I have long since grown weary of it.

      The endless hand-wringing and finger-pointing from the GOP establishment- blaming their relentless failure upon the people who make up the base of the Republican party- has soured me. I am no longer willing to listen or take heed of complaints blaming the conservative rank-and-file because the GOP has been a complete, utter, worthless failure- even when the party wins elections and controls the government, as it did within recent memory- because somehow conservatives failed to embrace the suckitude of the GOP establishment with sufficient enthusiasm.

      Don’t blame me. Blame George Bush. The buck stopped there.

    10. ErisGuy Says:

      “I wonder how many disgruntled conservatives who stayed home last November are happy with this.”

      Were I a conservative, I would be. But I’m not: I’m an abolitionist. There is almost nothing of the current anti-Constitutional regime I wish to conserve. Conservatism has been the problem all along: Eisenhower conserved the New Deal; Nixon, the Great Society; Reagan, Carter’s programs; Bush, Clinton’s. The next conservative will preserve Obama’s legacy.

    11. David Foster Says:

      Pst234…while it is quite true that modern “liberalism” or “progressivism” has a great deal of Fascism in its makeup, it does not follow that there are no decent people among those who vote for “liberal” candidates. Not everyone follows politics closely, not everyone is well-read in history and political philosophy, the influence of the dinosaur media and the media-driven popular culture is very powerful. What we must do if we want to succeed to endeavor to detach the decent among the “liberal” votors, which cannot be accomplished by blanket moral condemnation of them as people.

    12. MikeK Says:

      “What we must do if we want to succeed to endeavor to detach the decent among the “liberal” votors, which cannot be accomplished by blanket moral condemnation of them as people.”

      David, I don’t disagree. I referred to the government of Wilson as fascist. Even in Nazi Germany, The “White Rose” group did more than vote. What is the problem is that so many don’t look deeper as they go down the path to tyranny.

      So you think the term is too strong to apply to Obama, Holder, Duncan, Perez and company ?

    13. David Foster Says:

      MK…I think Obama’s views are to a large extent Fascist, although they also contain significant elements of Marxism and other ideologies, and this is also true of Holder. My disagreement is with the statements:

      ” I no longer believe in the decency of liberals–not in the slightest” and “there is no moral basis for a social for seeing liberals as fellow citizens.”

      If we are not wiling to see at least some significant number of “liberals” as fellow citizens, to the extent that we find it desirable and worthwhile to engage them in debate and persuasion, then we are either admitting defeat or accepting a future of violent civil war.

    14. Joe Wooten Says:

      David, the founder of Fascism was a socialist, and remained a socialist by his own admission until the day he died. Until he sided with Franco in the Spanish Civil War, Fascism was recognized by the international Socialist Movement as a Socialist variant. Hitler purposely modeled the Nazi Party on Mussolini’s model. In Mussolini’s Corporate State, the government did not own industries outright, but it did control them. It let favored cronies keep or aquire companies for their own profit (regulated). They did not want the headaches of day-to-day management. The Nazis did the same thing in Germany. In fact, some of their “innovations”, like a government representative on every corporate board, is still used by modern Eurosocialists.

      The association of Fascism and Nazism with the right wing is a construct of the socialists to: 1) taint conservatism with it’s taint and 2) try to remove it’s taint from them.

    15. David Foster Says:

      Joe, I’m quite familiar with the history of Socialism and Fascism. While there are many commonalities between these ideologies, there are also important differences. One, which you noted, is that Fascists prefer not to manage the economy directly in the Marxist model, but rather indirectly via submissive corporate cronies. This has the advantage, from the political leader’s view, of being able to disclaim responsibility for economic failures…it’s not MY fault there’s (nothing to eat, trains that don’t run on time, electricity that keeps going out, etc), it’s the fault of those Evil Corporations.

      Another aspect of Fascism, which is absent from theoretical Marxism, is the obsessive focus on race/ethnicity…again, this fits Obama and the modern “progressives.” The neo-pagan nature worship which can be observed in much present-day “liberalism” also has its parallel in earlier Fascist (specifically Nazi) thinking.

      Aldous Huxley described the Marxist and Fascist ideologies thusly:

      “In the field of politics the equivalent of a theorem is a perfectly disciplined army; of a sonnet or picture, a police state under a dictatorship. The Marxist calls himself scientific and to this claim the Fascist adds another: he is the poet–the scientific poet–of a new mythology. Both are justified in their pretensions; for each applies to human situations the procedures which have proved effective in the laboratory and the ivory tower. They simplify, they abstract, they eliminate all that, for their purposes, is irrelevant and ignore whatever they choose to regard an inessential; they impose a style, they compel the facts to verify a favorite hypothesis, they consign to the waste paper basket all that, to their mind, falls short of perfection…the dream of Order begets tyranny, the dream of Beauty, monsters and violence.”

    16. setbit Says:

      ErisGuy,

      There is almost nothing of the current anti-Constitutional regime I wish to conserve.

      Someone — I think maybe Joe Sobran — once wrote that it is incumbent on anyone who calls themselves a conservative to define exactly what it is they are trying to conserve.

      His answer was that he was trying to conserve Christian civilization. I have yet to hear a better summary of what conservatism ought to be about.

      Even if all religion is pure hokum, any honest observer ought to admit that much of what’s good in the world today has arisen directly or indirectly from the Judeo-Christian tradition. (Most of what people object to when criticizing the church is not the gospel as such, but rather the history of clerical authoritarianism, which is in opposition to the teachings of the New Testament.)

      The burden of proof falls squarely on anyone who claims that they know better than everyone who came before them what makes for a just and prosperous society. Anybody who wants to tear down everything that we are heirs to, because they don’t see any value in it, is dangerously delusional and deserves to be treated as such.

      Although I consider myself a libertarian, I am also very much a conservative in the sense that I appreciate what it’s taken to get us this far, and I am not so arrogant or stupid to think that I can build a society from scratch. That puts me, and most decent human beings, at odds with most of the Federal government as it currently exists.

    17. Margaret Says:

      “If we are not wiling to see at least some significant number of “liberals” as fellow citizens, to the extent that we find it desirable and worthwhile to engage them in debate and persuasion, then we are either admitting defeat or accepting a future of violent civil war.”

      How do we “engage them in debate and persuasion”, David? Chain them to the wall? Because all but one of my liberal acquaintances refuse to have this conversation. “I don’t follow politics,” “They all do it,” “Ladies don’t talk politics” “Obama doesn’t insult Republicans, he’s just frustrated at the way they stop everything he’s trying to do” (I wish!)

      The one guy who doesn’t run away is not much better; he simply picks a provably false statement in defense of his position and repeats it every time I say something.

      I’d LOVE to have a serious, intelligent conversation with liberals; not just to convert them, but to have my own ideas challenged.
      I am beginning to think this is not possible.

    18. David Foster Says:

      Margaret,

      Some, of course, have changed their views…for example, Bookworm has written about her own personal change process. But I do think a lot of those who had the mental flexibility to convert, did so soon after 9/11.

      What I find is a lot of people who have sipped certain favors of the "liberal" Kool-Aid, but have not slurped down the whole jug. For example, I know someone who is very hard-nosed against welfare and subsidies for the voluntarily unemployed, and is also strongly against race-based preferences…but she can't get past the idea that Republicans are dumb, and also contrary to her somewhat Bohemian persona.

      Some of the debate can be conducted on an individual basis, but it is essential that conservative/libertarian politicians and media improve their skills at the ancient art of rhetoric. As someone noted recently, John Boehner's speeches and interviews often contain so much inside baseball that to most people he must sound like a man from mars. Romney improved from where he was a few years ago, but his speeches still sounded like PowerPoint presentations, and not particularly good ones, either. And the Republican Party and conservative-leaning organizations have generally shown not much talent at targeted and effective direct mail, effective creation of Facebook memes, etc.

      One thing that is an absolute killer for our side is sex…we should probably have a discussion thread on this. There seem to be a considerable number of otherwise-intelligent women who are convinced that Republicans will not only make all abortion illegal, but will also prohibit birth control and will allow sex only in the missionary position, without foreplay. And Republican candidates and radio hosts often fall right into the trap.

      It is very difficult…but if dialog is no longer possible, then there is not much of a future for America and the rest of the Western world.

    19. David Foster Says:

      Re debating with true believes, see Koestler on closed systems.

      Yet today’s “liberalism”/”progressivism” is not even approximately an intellectually coherent system to the level of Marxism or traditional Christianity.

    20. David Foster Says:

      Here’s an example of a Facebook page from which originate Leftist memes I’ve seen floating around:

      https://www.facebook.com/Anti.Republican.Crusaders

      …and here’s another one:

      http://billmoyers.com/

    21. David Foster Says:

      PowerLine has a post about how the Senate rule change plays into Obama’s intent to remake the courts…and to turn law into “politics by other means.”

      And here’s a post about a case in which a federal court judge ruled against Louisiana in a case against the state’s scholarship program on Friday, requiring federal oversight for the program that allows children to escape failing schools.

      Increasing Obama dominance of the courts as well as regulatory agencies will make it more and more impossible for states, municipalities, and private organizations to escape the tightening web of overweening federal power. And if hundreds of thousands of children in Louisiana…and millions elsewhere…continue to be condemned to dysfunctional schools, well you can’t make an Obamian omlet without breaking some eggs.