By Bill Wilson — Most Americans think that tyranny comes with the stomping of boots, secret police and a bloody takeover by brutish thugs. It is the vision of the Cold War, of the Nazi and of countless tin-horn dictators over the last fifty years. And while it is sadly true that this type of sudden move to an authoritarian regime does happen, there is a more subtle and ultimately more dangerous form.
Freedom and sovereignty can be lost by the dull, gray specter of unresponsive, unrepresentative bureaucrats cranking out their regulations with little regard to the individuals their machinery crushes. It is this type of tyranny that is growing today in America. And, without the slightest bit of shame, a top Obama aid has called for more — more control put in the hands on unelected so-called “experts” and less in the hands of the people we elect.
In a startling piece in New Republic on Sept. 14, Peter Orszag calls for “more automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions.” To make sure nobody misses the point, Orszag, Obama’s former Director of Office of Management and Budget, concludes “we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”
Who needs elections? All we have to do is establish our soviets — my mistake, commissions — and turn everything over to them. No nasty, time-consuming representation by the masses. They don’t know what’s good for them anyway.
Seemingly on cue, on Sept. 27, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue even called for suspending congressional elections for two years. Later, she claimed it was a “joke.” Very funny.
Orszag and Perdue’s repugnant suggestions are based on the obvious fact that the American people are angry and frustrated with a Congress that is divided. But why is Congress working the way it is? Why has the core institution of our Republic failed to meet the clear and obvious desire of the public for reduced government spending, strong moves toward a stable and strong dollar, and an aggressive America First foreign policy?
You can get a hundred answers to that question. But the root cause is simple and has been well-understood for a long time. The greater the role the government plays in the economy and the everyday lives of the citizens the greater the stakes in any given outcome. And, as the Federal Government has moved to be all things to all people, building its dependency class with every new entitlement and program, more and more facets of life are decided in Washington. Accordingly it is only natural that such decisions are then fought out on the floor of Congress which increases the chances of gridlock since no one policy on any subject under the sun will find a just application in a nation of 300 plus million people.
The source of gridlock is not that Republicans just won’t surrender like they did for decades or that Democrats refuse to reform or change even the worst government program. The problem is that the decision is being made in Washington to begin with. There will be no gridlock if the stakes are not so high and decision making power is defused and applications tailored to the community affected.
Roger Koppl, reacting to the Orszag piece, points out in “Another Step Down the Road to Serfdom” posted on ThinkMarkets that this process was seen a long time ago. We were warned.
Koppl writes, “In The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek pointed out that no solution could satisfy all members of a democratic public. The greater the scope of centralized planning in economic affairs, the more gridlock there will be.” Could anything better describe today’s state of affairs in Washington?
In a chilling citation, Koppl quotes Hayek, “The conviction grows that the direction (of the economy) must be ‘taken out of politics’ and placed in the hands of experts — permanent officials or independent autonomous bodies.” And as the crisis persists, as it inevitably will, Hayek predicts, “The cry for an economic dictator is a characteristic stage in the movement toward planning.”
We have entered dangerous terrain. With a close friend of a President who has already usurped broad powers and assumed wide-ranging authority over the economy calling for exactly the type of central planning dictatorship foreseen by Hayek, we are in dangerous territory. Throw in a sitting governor calling for the suspension of elections, and America is on the edge.
Can we pull back in time, return to a truly small government with strictly limited powers or will we go over the cliff into the abyss of dictatorship? Every citizen has a stake in this battle. Orszag’s call for “less democratic” policy making is the throwing down of the gauntlet by the radical, socialist Left. The battle for the future of America is joined.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.