The final years of the Obama administration were marred by the inaction of Congress which led to the expansion of executive orders, most notably DACA. President Obama bypassed Congress in not only legislative matters but also in foreign affairs. The Iran Deal and Paris Climate Accord stand as examples executive treaties in the later years of Obama. President Trump faces the same gridlock as the GOP congressmen are unwilling to advance any conservative agenda on the legislative front. In attempt to break the current political climate, President Trump urged Congress to choose greatness over gridlock.
Congress sent the President the piss poor border omnibus. Hooray bipartisanship. Trump followed through on his word that he would build the border wall regardless and declared a national emergency. The button has been pressed, and so the border wall will commence widespread construction until the 9th Circuit Court steps in. Trump demonstratively cares about not appearing dictatorial and so he tried to rely on the indifferent Mitch McConnell and the opposing Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker of the House vows to fight the national emergency, and suggests that the precedent set can be used to declare leftist causes as national emergencies.
Who among us believes that Trump not declaring a national emergency was the only thing stopping a leftist president in the future from declaring a national emergency for a cause of their own? Numerous leftist municipalities have declared a national emergency for climate change. Back in November, David Roberts of Vox had this insight on the Green New Deal proposal:
As I said, the energy on the young left today is around a Green New Deal, a large-scale program of national investments in clean energy projects and jobs, perhaps coupled with gradual drawdown of fossil fuel production. The details remain fairly nebulous (I’ll be looking into it more soon), but the idea behind it is simply that climate change is a true national emergency and requires an emergency response, a mobilization of national resources that is, in Jimmy Carter’s words, the moral equivalent of war.
The Democrats have revealed in recent months, making it incredibly obvious, that climate change alarmism is the path to socialism. It’s doubtful that any climate change fantasy like the GND would pass Congress or withstand judicial review. However given the plethora of Democratic candidates that we will see in the primary next year, a probable majority of these candidates would declare a national emergency for climate change because that is how far the Democrats have shifted to the left. Whether Trump declared a national emergency or not is likely unrelated to whether these people would.
So back to the question at-hand: is dictatorship inevitable? As Congress becomes a useless entity, powerful but weak-willed, the executive branch will only expand. This we have seen accelerated in the last two administrations. Trump has reduced regulations but not the powers to enact regulation. The executive branch creates and enacts more law than the legislative branch. But there is still the judiciary branch. This branch has been bullied before by Presidents, mainly FDR. The Supreme court has 4 conservatives, 4 solid leftists and 1 fence straddler. It’s rulings remain unpredictable as ever. Roberts and Kavanaugh are likeliest to expand executive authority of the five that are not leftist. Still dictatorial action is without guarantee of being argued against at the Supreme Court level. The Supreme Court’s rejection of cases can prove as decisive as a direct ruling at times.
So how would the United State of America become a dictatorship? Recently, McCabe’s book detailed a conspired coup attempt on the President. But it’s highly unlikely that the coup would successfully remove a US president, and even less so the American population would accept it. Cersei makes it look easy. For impeachment is a legislative power, and the 25th Amendment creating a clear path of succession make it difficult for someone in the DOJ or military to lay claim to the presidency. It seems as though usurping our republic is far more difficult than usurping in Game of Thrones.
Again, how would the United States become a dictatorship? The answer is subtle. As noted, Congress is increasingly useless. The federal government is increasingly expansive with the administrative state. Congress legislates laws that give the executive branch legislative authority. This is how a dictator rises in the United States. The dictator will be elected, serve four years, if not eight, but the term will be dictatorial nonetheless. Congress will be symbolic and the Courts entrenched in precedent that affirms executive action. Perhaps Congress will grant the executive branch power to appropriate funds. Congress will remain a symbolic show of grandstanding and political theatre.
In truth, the rising irrelevancy of Congress will be the cause of a dictatorship, though not in name, in the United States. The current political clown show that is Congress makes this notion not only believable but almost prophetic.