© 2016 Jim Spence - How do you know if you are merely being governed, which is essential to a civilized society, or living under a dictatorship? This can be a tricky question sometimes. Of course it is easy to differentiate if the example is Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, or North Korea. There are no checks and balances in these countries.
It wouldn’t be easy to tell if if the U.S. lives under a dictatorship if you watched MSNBC last week during the inaugural. It seems that at least two references to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler came from the likes of Rachel Maddow and Chris Mathews during the coverage. In the case of Matthews, who once said the election of Barack Obama gave him a thrill up his leg, it is probably safe to assume that the Hitler reference regarding Trump means Mathews does not like Trump as much as he liked Obama. Of course all Hitler references are an insult to Jewish people everywhere. It is more than a quantum leap to go from, “I am a Democrat so I really don’t like Trump,” to Auschwitz, Krakow, and the Final Solution. Still MSNBC, a division of the NBC News propaganda ministry, aired comments like this during the peaceful transfer of power on the steps of the U.S. Capitol less than a week ago.
Perhaps the easiest way to actually tell if you are observing a dictator in action is to take a look at how government makes changes that directly affect your life. Dictators issue “decrees.” They sign documents that they authored with input from no elected officials, simply so their bureaucrats have specifics on how their orders are to be executed and enforced.
On the other hand, leaders who actually govern, make changes by working to get laws passed by legislators. The law passing process can be tedious because it not only involves winning elections, it also involves helping others who agree with you win elections.
Constitutions are supposed to be the people's rule book. In the case of the U.S. our constitution spells out how laws are to be passed. It also forbids the passage of laws that usurp basic constitutional rights. Dictators find constitutions to be particularly tedious.
In Washington this week Donald Trump is signing executive orders left and right (no pun intended). In doing so, Trump is making changes that directly affect our lives. Trade agreements are being terminated. A moratorium on new rules and regulations has been put in place. Even the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has had some of the teeth removed from it by Trump’s executive orders.
How can Trump possibly start dictating like this Democrats ask in bewildered tones. The answer is pretty simple. He is following the startling precedent set by one, Barack Obama. Consider the last eight years of Obama governing by decree.
When some of the most fatal flaws of Obamacare became obvious, even to oblivious Democrats, Obama did not go back to Congress for corrective legislation. He simply changed the law by executive decree. Then he bragged about it. Obama made a unilateral decision that the mandates in the law, wouldn’t be enforced after the law became effective. Companies would call on the White House and walk away with waivers that like magic, exempted them from the law. The same was true for unions. When the law itself was challenged in the courts, penalties were re-characterized by Obama lawyers as "taxes" so the Supreme Court could find a way to rule the penalties as being constitutional. White House confidant Jonathan Gruber said it had to be done this way because of the stupidity of the American people.
Obama once declared defiantly that he had a phone and a pen. This meant there was no need for Congress or law passing. Whatever Obama wanted he simply decreed. Border laws would not be enforced according to his decrees. Entities not sympathetic to Democrats were intimidated via decrees made by the EPA. The IRS became a tool of the DNC to block Obama’s opposition from gaining 501-c-3 status, while the IRS fast tracked Obama support groups when they applied for the same status.
Eventually the forces of dictatorship via the use of executive orders collided with the judicial branch of our government. The list of Obama’s executive orders that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court is astonishing and unprecedented, though rarely reported on by the propaganda ministries.
According to Ilya Shapiro of the Federalist, the Obama administration’s lawyers went to the Supreme Court 175 times in eight years. Their win-loss record was a dismal 79-96. This is the kind of record that gets you fired if you are a head coach. By comparison, the Bush administration went 89-59, Bill Clinton went 148-87, and Ronald Reagan went 260-89.
Of course there is some gray area on the win-loss record. Some cases were draws. However, it is noteworthy that even the Obama appointees on the Supreme Court (Kagan and Sotomayor) were ruling against the Obama efforts to dictate regularly. In the most recently completed Supreme Court term, there were ten cases where Obama’s lawyers could not get one affirmative vote for their arguments. Again, we heard very little from the propaganda ministers on these repudiations of Obama's efforts to dictate.
The cases where Obama was humiliated at the Supreme Court ran across the entire constitutional spectrum. Obama lost on attempts to limit religious freedom. He lost on several cases where he supported unlawful searches and seizures. He lost his effort to destroy property rights via the EPA. He lost an attempt to compel state entities to not enforce immigration laws. He lost on a case where he wanted the Department of Agriculture to be allowed to confiscate crops without recourse. He even lost on a case where he claimed he could make a recess appointment, even though the Senate had not declared a recess. Obama attempted to violate the constitution constantly and when the cases made their way to the Supreme Court, the justices bitch slapped him repeatedly.
You know you are living under a dictatorship, or living under a regime that would like to operate the government like a dictatorship, when the successor can make changes with the stroke of a pen and a phone and reverse course by 180 degrees on many policies without Congress.
No, Obama was not really a true dictator. He wasn’t a dictator because the system would not allow him to be one. And he left office peacefully. This being said, Obama did force his subjects, through his dictatorial efforts, to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on attorneys. You see, the U.S. courts don’t "automatically" defend citizens from despots. Lawyers must be hired to draw the judicial system’s attention to lawless decrees. When it is extremely expensive to beat back lawless oppression, this is a pseudo-dictatorship. This is the Obama precedent. Democrats are now going to find out what it is like to be on the receiving end of a pseudo-dictatorship.
Trump is now trying to undo tens of thousands of lawless decrees that were never been challenged in the courts.
Wanting to dictate is a slippery slope and makes elections matter even more.