Our Selected Fuhrer

  • June 29, 2023

Under the terms and conditions set forth in the Constitution – ostensibly the document that  is the literal “letter of the law” – the president is supposed to be an administrator. Some whose job it is to – as the Constitution puts it – see that the laws are faithfully executed.

This is rather different than decreeing them – as for example via what are styled “executive orders.”

The Constitution says Congress shall write the laws, the idea being that congressmen are elected and there are a lot of them, rather than just one president. He is of course also elected, but in a manner that effectively renders each vote meaningless as one out of millions has the same effect as a drop of water on the depth of the ocean.

Senators  – the other half of Congress – were once elected by the legislatures of the various states, with the idea being that this would counterbalance the democracy the men who wrote the Constitution dreaded and for that reason sought to check.

But the point – as regards this essay – is that it is Congress that was given authority under the Constitution to write the laws. Not the president.

And yet he does.

He has become, for all practical purposes, the National Lawgiver. It is why presidential elections are the ones most people do pay attention to, for they understand that whomever is elected will be the one telling them what they’ll be doing – as well as what they are not allowed to do – not merely for the next four or eight years but possibly for the remainder of their lives.

There are still some vestigial-procedural hobbles that haven’t yet been totally disregarded. But they are just that – vestigial. And for how much longer will they be regarded? Congress stopped declaring war 82 years go, which was the last time it did so, as per the Constitution. And yet there have been numerous wars since, including the Late Afghanistan War, which Congress never declared and yet was fought because The Decider so decided. That was 20 years ago. The war was only ended a little more than a year ago.

The current Decider has decided to go to war with Russia – without Congress declaring it. And that all new cars must average nearly 50 miles per gallon within the next couple of years and also that every new car made beginning three model years from now be fitted from the factory with what is styled a “kill” switch. Meaning your car can be remotely disabled at will, by whomever has control – remotely – of the switch.

Where in the Constitution does one find presidential authority to impose fuel economy standards – or that a “kill” switch be factory installed in every new car? One doesn’t, because there isn’t. The power has simply been asserted.

Italics to emphasize the distinction.

It is the power – of the bully. Of the gangster. Who is the bully all-grown-up. The politician is the gangster who got elected and went “legit.” He no longer has to worry about the law – because he makes them.

The president is the king of these gangsters – because he is above the law. For who else other than a president could so blatantly affront it – and get away with affronting it? Has any president been recalled – much less jailed – for launching a war that Congress never declared? How about for binding Americans to treaties never ratified by Congress? How about for decreeing that every American within reach of his power will roll up their sleeve and submit to being drugged, else lose their job and thus their livelihood?

Yes, the latter was rolled back. But the point is that it was rolled out – and it was this close to being, effectively, the law. It got that close because too many people have gotten used to having an elected Fuhrer around.

I use the word not to disparage but to illustrate. It means leader in German. The precise thing that presidents – and presidential aspirants – tout and assert. I will provide leadership for America, they say.

And they do.

Just like he did. Not exactly – and not yet. But in the same way and toward a similar end. The Fuhrer claimed he was the law – which he said he was by right because he embodied the will of the German people who had elected him to provide leadership.

A parallel need not be immediately adjacent to be a parallel. What’s relevant is that they are things of a kind.

Unsere Fuhrer is no less a Fuhrer because he is elected than Der Fuhrer was a president because he, too, was elected. For it is not elections that determine whether it is a tyrant who is selected but rather whether tyranny is prevented. Or at least, rendered something less than tyrannical – via laws that restrict the authority of whomever is elected. But that requires a president who respects the law – and if he does not, a system capable of removing him.

The Constitution has proved itself incapable of doing so, except in the sordid case of Richard Nixon – whose affronts were the presidential-level equivalents of parking tickets. He was removed because he was not liked – not because he was a tyrant. Even though he was a tyrant – viz, the creation of law-giving bureaucracies such as the EPA which has scourged and beset us ever since.

But he wasn’t removed for that.

Next year, a new Fuhrer. Or perhaps the same one. Does it matter? It will still be a Fuhrer.

How much longer before we dispense with the fiction that the Constitution is, in fact, anything more than a goddamn piece of paper, as a recent President-Fuhrer correctly styled it?

. . .

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