Five minutes after Candidate Trump descending the escalator and announced he would pursue the presidency, the cry went up:
Adolf Trump = Donald Hitler!
President Trump (so the story goes) is an authoritarian king-tyrant who dreams of Fourth-Reich dictatorship.
How do we know?
Why feelings, of course.
No amount of unfolding reality has slowed the roll of this feedback loop. Highly suggestible and historically illiterate minds seem to find the ‘Tritler’ comparison very compelling:
made mistake of Saying ,next 2other candidates trump was smart????I LOST MY MIND‼️HE’S HITLER‼️SUPPORT HIM⁉️
ID RATHER CHEW GLASS
— Cher (@cher) May 16, 2016
And if Tritler doesn’t hit your autocrat panic button, there’s the ‘TrumPutin’ conflation to get you worrying that democrasay is literally, like, in peril:
Adam Schiff has made the airtight argument that Donald Trump is Putin’s Useful Idiot. And unless Republican Senators, who all know it’s true, vote to remove the Useful Idiot, the country we love and Democracy itself will be devoured by Autocracy.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) January 24, 2020
EGADS! “Democracy itself … devoured”!
But look at the record to date and ask yourself: which branch of government has been dictating terms to the other two lately? Which branch has been cleaning its crevices with the Constitution and attempting to fundamentally alter our system of government to their permanent advantage?
Hint: for all the handwaving, it ain’t the Executive.
Which branch has threatened to pack the Supreme Court if its partisan balance doesn’t suit them? Which branch has used its advise-and-consent power to attack an appointment to the court with a cooked-up, televised sex-scandal inquiry in the Senate?
Which branch has deployed the extreme-emergency tool of impeachment for the purposes of election cancelling and political points? Which branch has coordinated with the administrative state to deploy leakers, malcontent “whistleblowers,” and fabricated investigations to hold the government hostage? Which branch wants to nix the Electoral College?
Many Americans in both parties believe that an elected legislative body cannot possibly fall into tyranny. After all, what embodies democracy more than a group of elected lawmakers?
To repurpose the observation of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm: unexamined faith in Congress’s benign democratic nature is “the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas.”
“The executive power in our government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude. The tyranny of the legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come. The tyranny of the executive power will come in its turn, but at a more distant period.”
Recent history has revolved around personal dictators: Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Putin, Mugabe, et. al. Individual autocrats are the evil the American public recognizes and understands. The notion of a collective evil, a ‘Hitler Group,’ strikes Americans as unfamiliar and vaguely ridiculous.
Americans have no experience with oppressive aristocracy. That’s an old-world, old-tyme notion. Even those with a sense of history (NOT Cher or Rob Reiner) conceive aristocracy as a hereditary institution: “Aristocracy can’t happen here! This is ‘Merica!”
But some sort of ‘–ocracy’ is evolving in Congress.
Stringers on the left are spinning out articles as fast as they can to justify the notion that REAL democracy means a Congress with representation based only on population, one that runs the country and decisively enforces the majority’s wishes; while the president acts as a figurehead or prime minister serving at their pleasure.
And theses stringers are right, in a way. What they describe IS a ‘real’ democracy–but not a constitutional democratic republic, which is what the United States happens to be.
The Founders conceived a strong, decisive, independent, but constitutionally limited Executive, not a prime minister. For this reason, the Executive exists separate from the Congress. The entire Executive Branch answers to the president and lives to implement his directives. As Judge Jay Bybee once observed: “The President is the only person who is also a branch of government.”
But that is the founding and the past. What of the future?
The American left seems to envision a Congress that functions like a Politburo. This new ‘Congressburo’ will function as both the lawmaking body and the Supreme Executive Committee of the United States.
The Congressburo will draw its power from unchallenged support in large, progressive cities; from alliances with foreign nations; and from cooperation with institutions like the federal administrative state, university systems, bar associations, and activism conglomerates.
The rest of the country and whatever president happens to warm the big chair will either go along or get dragged into a post-constitutional, progressive future.
The Democratic Party has positioned itself as an agent of this monumental power shift in the United States. They leverage the fear of Dictator Trump, constantly reignited, to promote initiatives to obstruct the Executive and style Congress as a tool of progressive majority enforcement.
Whether by legal activism, abolition of the Electoral College, impeachment-as-whip, bills disrupting Executive power, “living constitutionalism,” or civil disobedience, the ‘Crat Party paints itself as the answer to the supposed autocratic threat of the president and the stymied progressive wishes of “the good people in America.”
In a nutshell: Voting Democrat will create the Congressburo; and the Congressburo will make all progressive dreams come true, entirely responsive to the progressive majority.
Of course it will. There’s no chance a Congressburo will betray progressives or the country in service to their own newly unchecked power.
The United States indeed stands on the brink of tyranny; but the approaching tyranny is Legislative, not Executive. The Hitler we have to fear is not an individual but a dictatorial committee, lawmakers who set aside their autonomy and regional loyalty in service to the power of a dominant, monolithic institution that allows them to rule without boundaries and wear the Executive like a sock puppet.
The November election will go a long way toward deciding the question. Unless the American people elect a Congress committed to reestablishing the separation of powers, the Congressburo is not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when.’