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July 04, 2022

Keeping Our Republic

As the Constitutional Convention adjourned in Philadelphia, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin “well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy”.

Franklin famously replied “A Republic if you can keep it.”

This July 4th the question is still open. The most obvious recent threat is Trump’s treasonous (IMO) attempt to overturn the last election and the continuing credible threat of his regaining power. However, over the long term, Congress has been turning its responsibilities over to the President (and to some extent the courts). This abdication of responsibility by Congress gives the President dictatorial powers. Put dictatorial powers together with an executive who won’t leave office and you get a monarchy.

Trump

The January 6th committee reports are giving us all increasing evidence of Trump’s unfitness for office. I wish they could be less partisan, but it is the job of the opposition to ferret out the misdeeds of the other side. (It’s the job of the press to expose both sides but that’s another blog for another day).

In one respect, I think the committee is unintentionally downplaying Trump’s cowardice. The surprise isn’t that he said he would go with the mob to the Capitol; the surprise is that he didn’t go. As he is reported to have said “I’m the f’ng President”. He could’ve gone if he wanted to. Could’ve walked for that matter. It’s possible that the story about his trying to grab the wheel of the limo came first from him or his loyalists to excuse his absence. If it turns out that he didn’t try to grab the wheel or get himself where he’d said he’d be, with his troops, why not? That’s a question those who still support Trump should be asking themselves. Why did he abandon them?

Dictatorial Powers

The decision by the Supreme Court that the EPA cannot regulate greenhouse emissions is an important step to preserving our republic. It does NOT say that the federal government cannot regulate these emissions. It does NOT say that regulation is unconstitutional. It does not say that global warming is unimportant (or important). It does say that the President may not order his regulators to go beyond the authorization that Congress has explicitly given them.

It is not the job of the Supreme Court to make public policy decisions. They should not and did not rule on whether such emissions should be regulated or whether it is good public policy to ban coal-fired power plants.  Part of their job is to keep the two other branches of the federal government in their lanes and to keep the republic from becoming a monarchy.

“But,” people say about this issue and many others, “Congress didn’t act so the President had to do something!” These are well meaning people, but they are really saying “if Democracy doesn’t give the results I think are necessary, then we need to have a dictatorship.” Meanwhile congresspeople escape accountability for decisions and can blame any inconvenience on the damned bureaucrats or on businesspeople depending on their party (see the price of oil).

This decision does endanger many other unauthorized regulations. The Court already decided that the CDC does not have the authority to ban evictions nor does OSHA have the right to mandate large employer vaccination policies. The Court hasn’t said and shouldn’t say whether an eviction ban or a vaccine mandate are good or bad public policy. They have said that it is the role of Congress and not of the President through the executive agencies to make such policy or at least to explicitly delegate such authority to the executive branch.

If we want to keep our republic, we need to stand against both leaders who want to lead without the consent of the governed and legislative abdication to the executive.

Happy Fourth of July.

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