Creeping Authoritarianism in Washington

While Claiming to Fear Authoritarianism, the Left Actually Breeds It

While Democrats and progressive fellow travelers shriek with terror about the alleged abuses of power and growing authoritarianism of the Trump Administration, their actions show that their concern should be directed inward.

 

Nancy Pelosi says her latest impeachment spectacle is “about the Constitution.”

That’s laughable since so many of her actions, like those of so many in her conference and their progressive fellow travelers, do violence to the Constitution on a daily basis.

The following non-exhaustive list catalogues instances of the authoritarians’ widening assault on our liberties.  

Rule by Edict or No Vote on Impeachment Inquiry

The Constitution says the House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. In the past, a majority of the House voted to approve an impeachment inquiry. Now, diktat by the Speaker of the House substitutes for the will of the majority.

The House did, however, hold a vote to change the rules to deny the Minority out of power any say over the proceedings. Members of the Minority need not be present when Adam Schiff’s committee interviews impeachment witnesses. So much for minority rights.

No Right to Face Accusers

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to confront one’s accusers. This fundamental right has fallen out of favor on the Left. Christine Blasey Ford was a reluctant witness, coyly toying with those who sought to explore her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. She apparently felt no obligation to allow the man she accused (or his proxies) to question her. And why should she? Under protocols promulgated by the Obama Education Department, (male) students could be expelled from college without ever facing those who accuse them of sex crimes. If not for President Trump, those rules would still be in place and serve as a precedent for bureaucrats across the government to apply to other walks of life.

Oh wait, that’s already happened.

On the basis of unproven accusations by an anonymous CIA agent, the president is facing impeachment. And we are supposed to just accept that he can’t face the spy making the accusations?  

Denial of Due Process

The Fifth Amendment holds that no one shall be denied of rights, liberty, or property without due process. And due process traditionally has included the presumption of innocence.

No more. Rumor and allegation, not conviction, now are enough to disqualify one from holding a job or social media account. That brings us to another pillar of liberty that’s under assault.  

Don’t Question the Cops

The enemies of President Trump have borrowed a page from J. Edgar Hoover and his counterparts in the CIA who regularly planted anonymously sourced rumors in the press to smear opponents. In those days the enemies were leftists and communists. Today it is the leftists doing the smearing.

There was a time when Congress would empanel a special committee to investigate the security services manipulating the political process. Now, Democrats cheer them on.

Chuck Schumer was positively jubilant at the prospect of intelligence agencies undermining our elected government. “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community—they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told Rachel Maddow.

This abuse of power is accepted as part of the landscape—just one of those facts of life that you’d better get used to—and act accordingly.

Democrats once questioned whether the very existence of secret intelligence agencies was unconstitutional; now, they call anyone who dares question those agencies’ tactics a traitor.  

Relying on Guilt by Association

Guilt by association was another favorite smear tactic of Hoover’s FBI used against the Left. Now, the Left embraces it. The Communist Party supported civil rights therefore Martin Luther King and all opponents of segregation were communists, the story went. Now, since some Russians once bought Facebook ads anyone who supports President Trump or even believes he actually won the election—horrors!—therefore is a Putin puppet.  

Intimidation by State Power

Medieval tyrants used the rack, the knout, and the Catherine Wheel to break their victim’s bones. Today’s authoritarians use courts to break their victims financially. The Nadler-Schiff-Cummings subpoena cannon is a recent example of this tactic. The government has virtually unlimited resources to tie up its targets in court forever and bankrupt them with legal fees. The mere threat is often enough to force compliance and “confession.” In any event it is enough to scare many talented people on the Right away from entering politics, which may be the Democrats real goal. Look hard enough, and you can find everyone has violated some statute.  

Erosion of the Rule of Law

Ever since Moses brought down the tablets from Mt. Sinai, Western society has organized itself on rule by law. That has taken a severe hit in recent decades.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a victim of the Soviet Union’s arbitrary legal system. “A society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed,” he said. “But a society with no other scale than the legal one is not quite worthy of man either,” he warned, tweaking the Western world.

Our reliance on the legal system to resolve all matters has led to a proliferation of laws, rules, and regulations touching every aspect of life.

Their sheer number and often-contradictory nature makes it possible for a prosecutor to indict a ham sandwich. Or, as Lavrenti Beria said, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”

But not every ham sandwich is indicted, revealing the arbitrary application and enforcement of law.

Further evidence: the ever-growing kudzu of administrative regulations. What was mandatory one day may be prohibited the next without any intervening act of Congress.

Rules that are arbitrary or arbitrarily enforced are not rules at all.  

Mob Action and the Death of Free Speech

Whether it’s online or on the street, the Left’s go-to enforcer of woke orthodoxy is the mob, and I don’t mean “the Mob” as in La Cosa Nostra.

A liberal online mob reporting “content violation” will get you banned from Twitter and Facebook, no questions asked by gatekeepers there who feel no obligation to the First Amendment. The “right” not to be offended takes precedence over the right to free speech in a coup by the authoritarian collective.

Concerned about climate change? Send a mob of twerkers into the street to shut down traffic. No need for intelligent debate, just make life uncomfortable enough and people will comply with your wishes. Shorter version: Please make it stop, I will do whatever you want. It’s called coercion, a hallmark of all authoritarians.  

Technocratic Supremacists

The administrative state was born at the turn of the last century. The Progressives believed modern industrial society had grown too complex for its management to be left to the unwashed masses. Better that professional technocrats run things.

The Progressive cult of scientific social management sprang from the corporate efficiency consultant Frederick Winslow Taylor. He deployed his stopwatch and an army of time-and-motion men to bring greater “efficiency” to the industrial shop floor.

Scientific social management found its purest expression in the planned economy of the Soviet Union. Lenin praised Taylor for organizing the workplace and believed the party and its ideology of scientific socialism could organize all of society.

Today’s American administrative state actors share a belief in a managerial elite capable of running society. We’re not saying such Democrats are Leninists. But they could accurately be labeled technocratic supremacists.  

Noble Cause Corruption

The impeachment mob believes the end—in this particular case, eliminating Orange Man—justifies the means—in this particular case, shredding the constitution. There’s a name for this: Noble Cause corruption. Our cause is so noble it doesn’t matter if we dispense with the ethics of journalism, the precepts of good government, or the Constitution itself.

Such an ethic has motivated lynch mobs, tyrants, and witch hunts since the dawn of time.

And its spirit is afoot in the land today.

Copyright © 2019 Curtis Ellis, All rights reserved.