Do Autocrats Own the Future?

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Spanish businessman Juan Carlos Perez Carreno said: “If you look at Trump in America and Bolsonaro in Brazil, you see that people want politicians that do what they promise…”


No one can deny that there is growing frustration with elected legislatures and their inability or their reluctance to act.  This has registered in the minds of voters.  Among Washington’s elite, Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border has led to charges of Trump violating a multitude of Constitutional provisions.  There are charges that he has usurped Congress’ power of the purse, or violated a key principle of Madisonian democracy and the separation of powers.  He is, at the end of the day they charge, acting like an imperial president.

Looked at rationally, the main culprit in the decline of Congress is Congress itself, and the courts, but even here the Congress is ultimately responsible.  Historically, Trump’s declaration of a national emergency pales in comparison to previous usurpations of Congressional authority or potential and actual Constitutional violations.  The most noteworthy examples include:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s purchase for $15 million of vast territory in the Louisiana Purchase which even Jefferson doubted was constitutional;
  • Andrew Jackson’s ignorance of a Supreme Court decision and then forcibly removing Indians from Florida and elsewhere;
  • Abraham Lincoln’s arrest of the Maryland pro-secession legislature, known violation of habeas corpus, the arrest of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, and the closing of newspapers critical of the war;
  • Teddy Roosevelt’s gloating of taking Panama in order to build a canal;
  • The internment of over 75,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry in 1942 by Franklin Roosevelt;
  • Harry Truman’s commitment of US troops in Korea calling it a “police action;”
  • Bill Clinton’s continued use of military force in Serbia despite Congressional disapproval, and;
  • A host of actions by Barack Obama- most notably DACA.

All these actions were decisively taken by presidents in the past.  Some of them are of dubious constitutional validity, or outright violations of constitutional authority.  Yet, through them all, it was Congress that failed to act and in many cases voluntarily surrendered their authority to the Executive Branch of government.

For example, Congress is granted the authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.”  That has largely been ceded to a sea of faceless bureaucrats in the Executive branch with Congress then casting a “yes” or “no” vote on anything they consider.  The authority to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” has been ceded to the Federal Reserve.  The authority to “declare war” has transformed into “authorization of the use of military force” which allows broad leeway to the Executive, cost and number of lives be damned.  Even Trump’s declaration of a national emergency was granted him by Congress in 1976 in the National Emergencies Act.  Today, they wring hands and, in effect, say, “We didn’t mean for immigration” which really translates to, “We didn’t mean for this particular President.”

Enter the courts.  For years they have delegitimized religion, particularly Christianity, in public life by perverting interpretations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  Once this was achieved, they mysteriously through constitutional sleight of hand created a whole new right to abortion out of thin air.  Not deterred, they then declared the traditional view of marriage suddenly unconstitutional.


Under Article III, Section 2, the blame for this comes back to Congress.  That body of elected bozos has the latent authority to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and all inferior courts.  In all our history, Congress has been reluctant to use the very big stick our Founders left them to reign in renegade courts.  The result is the decisions you get out of the Ninth Circuit which the Left exploits with regularity.

During the 2016 campaign, the many flaws of then-candidate Trump were well-documented.  Despite the proffered reasons for his victory, from the absurd Russian collusion narrative to “stupid white women” voting for him, uneducated voters, cover-ups of marital infidelity, racist voters in key states, ad nauseum, one thing stands out: he was perceived as a doer and person who could get things done.

The reason centrist parties in Europe and elsewhere around the world, and establishment Republican and the increasingly socialist Democratic Party are being pushed aside is attributable to their inability to get things done, and not listening to the reasonable demands of those who elected them.  Those demands include, at a minimum, safe and secure borders and putting your own country first.  Again, these are two simple and reasonable demands.

Autocrats may be bad guys in some instances, perhaps the majority of instances.  Some have lumped Trump in with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.  History, not rhetoric from The Resistance or the NeverTrump crowd, will be the ultimate arbiter of Trump.  But one thing is certain: where others talk, Trump acts and does.


Whether he is an autocrat or not will be left for historians and political pundits to argue over in future years.  For the sake of argument, let us assume he is.  But, is he an autocrat at heart, or is he one created by the very tools Congress gave him?  Elected officials may not like the answer to that question assuming they do not avoid it altogether.


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