Donald Trump’s use of executive decree power on the specious grounds that there is a “national emergency” takes the American system to a bad place. It is a revolutionary act that makes paper dolls out of the advise and consent responsibilities of the legislative branch. It is a crossing of a rubicon that threatens to install what Oswald Spengler called “barbaric caesarism” into the American system. All dictatorship comes to the fore because of emergencies but this is an invisible one only conjured by Right-Wing fanatics.
Not since secessionists placed in motion the dividing of the nation has a president played a hand so recklessly. Granted, past presidents have used the power to circumvent Congress, for example Obama’s Iran nuclear deal which ignored the Senate responsibility to ratify treaties. But never has “emergency” been attached to advance an action. It threatens oppression and armed force against American citizens. And, if the Democrats take power in 2020, they might be tempted to use this as an excuse to force an issue such as gun control.
It would be bad if they did, but Trump is opening a dangerous door. The likes of the reptilian Mitch McConnell and the skulking Lindsey Graham have gleefully gutted Congress collaborating with a would-be tyrant, thus placing their bona fides in doubt. Give Mike Lee, Rand Paul and other Republicans credit, they embrace the Constitution rather than the temporary occupants of the White House. They see the dangers to constitutional government being undermined by an imperial presidency run amuck.
All because Trump cannot say no to the likes of Sean Hannity. In the era of game show host presidencies, it is not surprising that it has all the appearance of mob rule. From being a federal union, it has all the looks of a confederacy of dunces. It is the sort of things that create heated passions and, as Benjamin Franklin noted, they rarely govern wisely.
And a caution for Democrats is in order in that they are too confident that so-called GOP moderates will stay the hand of an out of control executive branch. Republicans fearing that the demographic future does not bode well for them may be tempted to act rashly. When Anne Coulter expresses her wish that if the republic had only citizens with “four” native-born grandparents, she used explosive language. With some Republicans, it is confusing whether they want war at home or abroad.
But it is time to stop the escalation of partisanship. To override Congress with action other that the veto is to invite disorder and even disunion. For Democrats, if they take power, they should be careful to respect constitutional norms. Otherwise crisis will be a permanent state and animus will rise as a result. Trump and the cynics on Capitol Hill cannot possibly think that avoiding a shutdown is worth this kind of fealty to executive action. It is dangerous and given the desperate mood of some in this country to dam the future may turn into tragedy.
Compromise that denies the rules to bring about change always contributes to even greater calamities. Perhaps as in the past, this will all pass away with not much damage done — let us all pray that it does.