Abuses and Autocrats, Dissenters and Dictators, Orwell and Oligarchs

The Editorial Board at the New York Times recently posted an article named Ease Up on the Executive Actions, Joe, which brings up an interesting subject that I'd like to discuss. As anyone who grew up in America is aware, our system of government was created with a distribution of power between three branches: Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Supreme Court). The original intent of the Executive branch as detailed in the Constitution was to enforce the laws that were created by the Legislative branch, while the job of interpreting those laws was assigned to the Judicial branch. Over the years, each President has ramped up the use of Executive Orders, which have increasingly had the same affect as laws, without having to go through the long process of Congressional debate within the Legislative branch as originally designed by the framers of our Constitution. In other words, the use of Executive Orders has overextended the intended role and reach of the Presidency and bypassed Congress. To be clear, this behavior includes both Obama and Trump.

However, throughout the Trump presidency, the common response by mainstream news outlets was that each Executive Order issued by Trump during his four years in office was a "dictatorial" abuse of power. Many of these scathing condemnations of Trump's behavior led to the inevitable comparisons between Trump and Hitler, which were - of course - completely ludicrous to anyone with a basic study of European history. (In my opinion, Mussolini might have been a better comparison, but I digress.) That being said, Biden's unceasing willingness to issue Executive Orders since taking office last week has thus far exceeded every other presidents' abuse of that particular "Executive Privilege." And yet, with the notable exception of the Times editorial that I mentioned in my opening statement, the general response of mainstream media has been applause - or silence - despite being the closest manifestation of a true "dictatorial abuse of power."

As we have seen in the rise of dictators throughout history and around the globe, "abuse" is never labeled as such by those who support the dictator and/or stand to benefit from said dictator's consolidation of power. As I mentioned earlier, our forefathers specifically founded a republic with three branches of government as a system of checks and balances in order to prevent what Biden is doing; that is to say, a single branch calling all the shots. Biden is ignoring Congress in his systemic alterations of the American political landscape, and those who spent four years loathing Trump are plodding happily along in their antipathy for their common enemy (Trump), while ignoring the fact that they are tacitly approving and condoning the very behavior to which they had vehemently objected in the very recent past. Tragically, now that the Biden administration has begun its investigations into restructuring the Supreme Court (see Biden starts staffing a commission on Supreme Court reform), the Biden administration is literally trying to find a way to bypass the last remaining hurdle to consolidating the power to govern unchecked and with impunity from a single branch of government.

I am reminded of the Triumvirate in the Republic of Ancient Rome, in which three leaders were chosen to share power and prevent an individual leader from singularly holding the reins of government. And yet, during the Triumvirate of Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar, one of the three was unhappy with the concept of serving with a balance of power, so he did away with the other two. This person was - of course - Gaius Julius Caesar, who appointed himself "dictator for life," thereby ending the Republic of Rome, and instituting the Imperial Age of Rome, wherein the will of the people was supplanted by the dictatorial rule of emperors. In recent years we have seen how modern dictators have followed similar paths; they gain the support of the people, and once their power is secured, they do away with anyone who can challenge their authority. (Think of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin in the USSR/Russia for a one such example from the 20th century.)

With that in mind, we now see ourselves tipping precipitously on the edge of our own decline into autocracy, and yet there are millions of people who approve of the person who is exhibiting behavior that would be viewed as totalitarian if it was occurring elsewhere around the planet (think of Putin and Navalny in modern Russia). Our populace has millions of willing and unwitting accomplices who are rejoicing in their ignorance as their own downfall looms quietly and ominously in the not-too-distant future. It is a truly frightening time when people's incessant loathing for anything to which they object has blinded them to the very real threats to their personal freedoms. At the risk of violating Godwin's Law, this lust for power is the reason why Communists and Nazis invented "enemies of the people" in order to rally the mob in support of their consolidation of authority. We now have people who are publicly proclaiming that non-Liberals need to be "deprogrammed" (see So Many Great, Educated, Functional People Were Brainwashed: Can Trump’s Cult of Followers Be Deprogrammed?); that should strike fear in every citizen of this country. A difference of opinion does NOT justify the tyrannical brainwashing of opposing viewpoints into blind obedience and acceptance.

There was a time in this country where George Orwell's vision in "1984" of bludgeoning freedom of thought into a love for "Big Brother" was political fantasy; however, it is readily apparent that compulsory obedience to Big Brother is no longer a fable. What's more, the current trends by the social justice warrior crowd to rewrite history combined with the cooperation between mainstream/social media and tech giants to actively censor contrarian perspectives sounds an awful lot like Orwell's concept of a "Ministry of Truth," wherein "truth" is what the Party says is true, and dissenting opinion is overtly suppressed. Now that Orwell's fiction is slowly becoming fact, it is disconcerting to see the number of accomplices who line up as willing participants. The Communists had a term for these people: "Useful Idiots." From my perspective, I think that is a perfectly appropriate term for any willing participant in the dismantling of a democratic republic in favor of authoritarianism and despotism.

1984-Big-Brother

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