Saturday, December 16, 2023

#350 / Are We Ambling Towards Autocracy?

David Plouffe is the guy who is pictured above. As Wikipedia informs us, Plouffe is "an American political and business strategist best known as the campaign manager for Barack Obama's successful 2008 presidential campaign." This political pedigree suggests that we should take seriously Plouffe's political prognostications and pronouncements. 

Recently, the online political webite maintained by AlterNet quotes Plouffe as warning the public that "Trump plans 'to turn America into an autocracy.'"

This statement by Plouffe is just one more warning, among the many such warnings that informed political commentators have been making. I have discussed this topic before, in my blog posting published on November 16th, "Should We Be Scared?" What I concluded then (and want to reiterate), is that we should only be scared about incipient "autocracy" if we forget to insist that our government actually work the way the Constitution says it is supposed to work. 

Trump may have "authoritarian plans," as The Washington Post advises us, but check out Article II of the Constitution. That is the part of our Constitution that outlines the powers and duties of the president. That Article makes the extent of the president's authority pretty clear (and it's not very extensive):
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.... [and the President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.

"Executive" power means the power to "execute" what others direct. In other words, our government is designed to operate on the basis of "laws," enacted by our elected representatives on our behalf. What our government does is not supposed to be determined by what our elected Chief Executive wants. The president's role is simply to "execute" the laws enacted by Congress. Article I outlines the powers of Congress. They are, to use a "legal" term, "plenary." Article I comes first for a reason.

Of course, unless we are actively engaged in ensuring that our elected representatives do represent us, any president with autocratic ambitions (and I'll stipulate that Donald Trump has those, in abundance) can run away with the governmental powers that belong to us (and to Members of Congress, acting as our representatives).

In other words, if you're not in the mood for a trip to autocracy, you'd better start getting actively engaged in politics. 


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