cross-posted at Canada Free Press
Academics, who for all their supposed disdain for the Bible seem to revert to religious symbolism when addressing the question of what the various models of government might be, in the same way that theologians argue the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Socialist, Communist, Theocracy, Oligarchy, Monarchy, Totalitarian, Plutocracy, Democracy, Republics, and so on. If you really want a mind numbing list of all the variations, I would suggest a short view of this article at Wikipedia.
I would further suggest that in reality there are, in reality, only two forms of government: “Democracy” and what should be called “Not Democracy.” When viewed in those terms, the United States should no longer be viewed as a democracy. It is neither because one party has played fast and loose with appropriate controls over the qualifications of who gets to actually vote, although that is admittedly a sorry state of affairs, nor because out current Chief Executive, regardless of his educational credentials in Constitutional law has effectively declared himself the personal arbiter of what will be considered law and what will be considered merely suggestions that emanate from the legislative branch called Congress.
No, the sobriquet Democracy should be replaced by the more accurate and realistic term of Bureaucracy which falls into the Not-Democracy category.
The current form of governance in the United States would appear to work like this (at least to a visiting alien from a distant planet that lies in a galaxy far, far away):
• Congress is hounded by special interest groups to “do something” about whatever it is they find annoying.
• In order to keep their comfortable jobs, relatively generous paychecks and extravagant perks, members of Congress react by passing a law which tangentially addresses the problem that the special interest group finds appalling.
• The law that is passed, however, is not a specific set of instructions that define what behaviors are no longer to be considered legal, but rather merely suggests the kind of behaviors that are no longer socially acceptable. The law that is passed does not define what, if any, punishment will be levied against those who transgress these defined misbehaviors, leaving the determination of appropriate punishment to the sitting Secretary of whatever department is most effective. It may not even require that such transgressions and the punishment thereof be adjudicated by members of the Judicial branch.
• Many current laws delegate (a) defining the transgression, (b) defining the punishment and (c) adjudicating the guilt or innocence of the party accused of transgressing the newly minted form of non-acceptable behavior and then (d) enforcing the punitive retaliation for such transgressions. Think of it as sort of a legalistic version of “one-stop shopping.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a, Obamacare) is perhaps the most egregious example of this sort of delegation to a faceless bureaucracy that has ever been inflicted on a gullible citizenry.
For example, the most common phrase in the PPACA is “the Secretary Shall.” Even though the PPACA is one of the longest bills ever enacted in U.S. history, it is still only a skeleton. It gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services enormous discretion. As a bureaucracy reporting to a member of the President’s cabinet, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a part of the Executive branch of government. The Executive Branch exists to enforce laws, not to make them. According to the U.S. Constitution, only the Congress is supposed to actually make the law.
But even if the nation followed the nominal definitions of who is supposed to do what as outlined in the Constitution, more bureaucrats are, like busy little beavers, actually creating the laws we are all supposed to follow. Again, using the PPACA as the exemplar, how many elected members of Congress actually read the law before passing it for the President’s signature? To pass the law, 218 votes were needed in the House and another 60 in the Senate. Does anyone actually believe that 278 elected officials actually read the thousands of pages that make up this law? John Conyers (D-MI) expressed that idea best when he said, “What good is reading the bill if it’s thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” If Mr. Conyers made a gaffe here (“a gaffe” being defined by Charles Krauthammer as occurring whenever a Washington politician accidentally gets caught speaking the truth), then it seems reasonable to infer that he had no personal input into the drafting of the PPACA. Some “staff” member, another bureaucrat, actually wrote the bill.
So a bureaucrat wrote the bill, another bureaucrat defines the law and its consequences and still more bureaucrats enforce the bill and yet more, in this case those in the IRS, punish you financially for failure to comply, yet not one of these faceless, nameless bureaucrats can be removed during the next election cycle, and who are further protected by the protections that Civil Service employees enjoy.
Even when Congress actually drafts a clearly worded law, bureaucrats “interpret” that law until the only similarity between the law itself and how it is implemented is the title both Congress and the bureaucrats use to identify the law in question.
Take for example the law titled “Authorization to Use Military Force” (AUMF) that was passed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon as well as the downing of a civilian airliner over Pennsylvania. Unlike the massive PPACA, this contains just 60 key words. Those 60 words are:
That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons. [Emphasis supplied]
Note that it appears to be focused just on those who planned or supported the September 11th attacks.
Almost exactly one year ago, on May 16, 2013, this very question was raised during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. And the answer that our elected officials received from the designated DOD bureaucrats who sat before the committee? They explained that the language of the AUMF had been expanded to also include “associated forces”.
The day following this Armed Services Committee hearing, Professor Jack Goldsmith (the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School) wrote a remarkable essay for lawfareblog.com titled Congress Must Figure Out What Our Government Is Doing In The Name of the AUMF.
This means that bureaucrats have determined that (a) Congress didn’t really mean what the words that they drafted, voted on and passed meant what they said, and (b) the administration could define any group or individual that annoys the president about almost anything as an associated force and be subject to a wake-up call using Hellfire missiles while they drive across Yemen.
This is simply evidence that the administration, and its millions of faceless, unelected, unaccountable and nearly invisible bureaucrats can not only usurp the legislative prerogatives of the Legislative branch, but can seemingly determine who and what can be subjected to what would normally be viewed as an act of war, a function which again is Constitutionally vested in Congress alone.
Progressives realized this reality decades ago, and have employed a tactic that insures that the Progressive governing philosophy will continue without interruption regardless of who occupies the White House or the Congress. This is likely the real reason that Progressives tend to grow government whenever they have the opportunity. The growth of government invariably means the growth and influence of Progressives in the bureaucracy, bureaucrats who are almost impossible to terminate and influence government policy even more directly than the elected officials that work under the delusion that they are in charge.
It’s one thing to be annoyed at the folks who work at the DMV or the Post Office, but those civil tyrants don’t unilaterally initiate (what diplomats call) “unfriendly acts” in an undeclared war or destroy the healthcare of hundreds of millions of Americans. But there are tens of thousands of bureaucrats that actually can do such things, and often do.
Perhaps it’s time to return to the plain reading of the Constitution. You know, as it was originally intended. The first step in that direction is to educate the voters that just changing politicians is not nearly enough. The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act must be modified radically to allow for the weeding out of unfit employees, particularly those who clearly twist the clear wording of legislation to fit their Progressive agenda. A new administration (if they can find a pen) could draft an executive order freezing all non-military hiring. Assuming that civil service employees have randomly distributed levels of seniority, in eight years one might expect that 40% of all civilian employees would either choose to find other private-sector employment, retire or die. While the American taxpayer would still be on the hook for the pensions of these people, whatever it costs in terms of retirement benefits would be far, far less than the cost of the damage that they can do to the nation.