America's Authoritarian Government

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In a dictatorship, no one else in government has power to halt the authoritarian who authors and enforces his own laws. George W. Bush is acting the role, and getting away with it, because our judicial system is incapable of responding with speed or efficiency to the Constitutional crises being raised by the President's incredible expansion of the power of the executive branch.

President Bush is riding and elevating a wave of growing executive power and immunity from the Congress and Courts, created by his predecessors. While Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton were key to this growing executive power threat to our Constitutional government, it is with the G.W. Bush's administration that the crisis is reaching a defining moment in American history.

It is the little things that expose an authoritarian's defiance of law. For Nixon, it was the tapes. For Reagan, it was leaks of Iran-Contra exchanges. For Clinton it was a lie about his personal life. For G.W. Bush, it was the berating of U.S. attorneys after they were fired. If the Bush administration had fired these attorney's and praised them for their service, this Constitutional crisis over their firings would never have occurred. But, his administration, in its arrogance, could not resist whipping those attorneys after they were gone for not living up to the White House's expectation of loyalty to the authoritarian.

Ms. Sara Taylor, political director for the White House, under partial immunity, testified before Congress regarding the firings. She volunteered her understanding of the oath of office. She said she took an oath to the President. Below is the excerpt from the transcript:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you're correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what--

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I--

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

With a moment of bewilderment and confusion, she then recognized with embarrassment the error of her loyalty, and agreed with the Committee Chair Leahy that her oath was to protect and defend the Constitution (our laws), not the person sitting in the oval office. She apologized for her words several times. It's the little things that give people away: the things they didn't think important enough to rehearse.

As the head of his political party, the president wears two hats, one political, the other as employee of that nation. The ugly smell surrounding the firings emanated not from the firings themselves, but, from the circumstances surrounding each of the individuals fired. The majority of them appeared to be failing to live up to political expectations of using their power as U.S. Attorneys to disadvantage Democrats in the 2006 elections, or for having participated in investigation or prosecution of Republicans.

If these attorneys used their office to disadvantage Democrats prior to an election or, refused to investigate or prosecute Republicans because of elections nearing (Duke Cunningham), it would have been a violation of our laws. The fired attorneys did not violate our laws in this manner, and in the absence of other defensible reasons for their firing, the implication is they were fired for not using their power to influence elections or promote political agendas. There is no other common factor tying this particular group together for firing. All other explanations accusations as to why they, as a group were fired, have proven to be false.

But, the Constitutional crisis now being wrought has to do with Executive Authority exempting the President and his actions from review or oversight by the other branches of government, especially the Congress. Congress has issued subpoena's to White House personnel to investigate the motives for the firings. The Bush Administration is claiming its personnel are immune from Congressional oversight or investigation under a concept known as Executive Privilege.

Executive Privilege was designed to protect the President's capacity to lead the nation in times of war, insurrection, national crisis, or similar emergency threatening the United States. There has been a steady broadening of that power by presidents arguably from Tyler, Polk, and Hayes' terms in office.

With such a steady broadening of executive power, over the centuries, it was inevitable that America should arrive where it is with Pres. G.W. Bush, wherein the office of President now exercises the power of dictator and authoritarian, rather than a representative of the people, faithful and dutiful to the Constitution and the rule of law. President Bush is now making his own laws through signing statements, then hiding those laws and their enforcement under Executive Privilege and Authority.

Our judicial system is now so clogged, that Pres. Bush's administration is free from worry of having his efforts hampered. Since, by the time these Constitutional issues make their way through the courts and are resolved by the Supreme Court, he will no longer be in office. The next president is not about to subject themselves to prosecution after leaving office by instructing the Department of Justice to pursue prosecution of the Bush Administration after he leaves office. We are thus, institutionalizing an authoritarian government cloaked in the guise of a democratic republic for marketing purposes only.

Most dictatorships begin with a benign dictator, or at least the appearance of one. But that kind of power for a person to author their own laws and policies according to their own needs, desires, and wants, will inevitably be transferred to a person who is anything but benign in their exercise of that power. The history of the Roman Empire outlines this process many times in its history, as do South American regimes over the last century.

One of the lynch pins to any president establishing and protecting this authoritarian power is control of the Justice Department. If the Justice Department becomes the pawn of the White House to do its bidding, as is being investigated now by Congress, the rule of law is traded in for the rule of the man or woman sitting in the White House and those closest to him / her in the Administration.

When the Congress loses its oversight and investigatory authority, and its ability to instruct the Justice Department to investigate breaches of Constitutional or statutory law, by a declaration of the President that Executive Authority trumps Congress' authority, Constitutional balance and checks are lost. The Congress and people they represent then no longer have power over government. The president is free to cloak their authoritarian actions in secrecy and Executive Authority without fear of legal reprisal.

From the warrantless wiretaps, breaches of the Geneva Conventions in use of torture and rendition, to the commutation of 'Scooter' Libby's sentence, to the now hiding of evidence under Executive Authority, the Bush Administration has time and again demonstrated its refusal to be bound by the Constitution, the law, or the other branches of government. But, it is this little thing, the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys and then berating their competence falsely, after the fact to cover up the political motives behind the firings, that will bring this President's legacy down, if not the President himself before expiration of his term.

The battle between the Congress and the White House being fought today, is every bit as crucial to our Constitutional system as Watergate was, and in some ways more so. If the White House succeeds in protecting both Executive Authority and submission of the Justice Department to the White House's political directions instead of the U.S. Constitution, for all intents and purposes, Sara Taylor's pledge to protect and defend the President may as well become the new oath of office for all persons in government.

Such an oath was taken by all those who served in Saddam Hussein's government. An oath to the office of Hussein, not the nation of Iraq. It was very telling that Sara Taylor referred to her oath as to the president, instead of the Constitution. Very telling, indeed. Only in authoritarian governments do government servants swear an oath to the authoritarian. The laws after all, are whatever the authoritarian says they are.

There should be an overwhelming response from the American public and the Congress to halt this conversion of our government from a democratic republic to an authoritarian regime by one person. There should be.

But, there isn't a majority of voters, nor Congress, crying out for restoration. If ever there was a more telling state of the union statement, a more prophetic view of what is to come, I have not heard it in my lifetime. All that is required for America to lose its Constitutional rule of law, is for good people to remain silent.

Saving our democratic republic will require heart, courage, and immense effort, starting with a letter, email, or phone call to our representatives demanding correction or, there will be no vote for that representative come Nov. 2008. That is how our democratic republic was intended to work. Use it, or lose it. It is no more complicated than this.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on July 20, 2007 8:03 PM.

Wealthy Interests Decide Elections was the previous entry in this blog.

Change or Democratic Anarchy is the next entry in this blog.

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