Independence Day and the perilous state of our nation
In the wake of this week's Independence Day celebration, some thoughtful reflection is in order.
Imagine a scenario in which England somehow managed to reconquer the United States in the next few months. (Such a scenario is rendered less fantastic given the fecklessness of the current administration.) Imagine further that England then abolished our Constitution, canceled future national elections, and forced us once again to submit to the will of the Crown. Would we wish to celebrate Independence Day next July 4 or in future years? Would there be any point to such a celebration?
Assuming that the answer is "no," then we do not really need our imaginations in order to question the relevance of our current Independence Day celebrations. Real scenarios have existed for some time.
(1) Our government currently owes more money to foreign countries than any government or person has ever repaid in the history of mankind. That debt continues to grow and limits our options regarding trade policy, foreign policy, military planning, etc.
(2) Our country has no border (depending on who is president). No nation is independent without an enforceable border. Joe Biden has not officially abolished our southern border, but his policies have rendered our taxpayers subservient to any claim by any foreigner that seeks to enter our country and avail himself of government benefits, services, etc. We are truly citizens of the world in the worst possible way. Anyone from the outside world who crosses our former southern border becomes an ally of one faction in our political battles — even if he does not realize it.
(3) A 20-year prison sentence was just given to Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in procuring underage girls for multiple clients — none of which clients have been or will be sentenced, prosecuted, or even spoken of. They are presumably too powerful and influential to be subject to our laws. Our government is less independent of these unnamed "clients" than we ever were of England. At least we were always capable of denouncing the king by name.
(4) Millions of Americans continue to distrust the integrity of the most recent presidential election despite repeated official assurances of its propriety and ongoing efforts — official and otherwise — to silence such distrust. Nothing refutes "independence" like a corrupt election — regardless of whether one believes that the corruption was sufficient to tip the scales.
(5) Perhaps most disturbing are the efforts to streamline the three branches of government set forth in our founding documents into one all-powerful Executive Branch. Decades ago, Congress yielded much of its legislative powers to the Executive Branch by creating innumerable federal agencies with de facto legislative functions and little, if any, oversight. These agencies operate the federal government almost independently of Congress so long as Congress continues its unbroken streak of increasing the agencies' funding every year. Some would argue that these agencies constitute a permanent bureaucracy that operates independently even of the president — at least independently of any Republican president.
Presidents who seek to make the most of this bureaucratic power increasingly use "executive orders" to bypass the Legislative Branch. Joe Biden's critics focused much of their attention upon his numerous executive orders on his first day in office while missing the real issue. The critics stressed how wrong and harmful the individual orders were without acknowledging the dangerous pattern of legislating without congressional approval or national debate.
The power of mere executive action became painfully apparent in 2020. A few agencies such as the CDC and its state counterparts shut down most of the national economy while Congress and various legislatures could do nothing about it despite vociferous, meaningless protests. The CDC even managed, with the stroke of a pen, to suspend centuries of real estate and related law across the nation with its "eviction moratorium." King George would have been envious.
This trend bodes ill for the future. Our bureaucracies need only to coordinate their databases while waiting for consumers to be enticed by novel vehicle technology in order to deprive us of our ability to direct our own cars or travel beyond a certain distance. They can accomplish this goal without new laws, national debate, or even input from the two increasingly arcane branches of government.
The decades-long process of bypassing the Legislative Branch is rivaled by recent efforts to nullify the Supreme Court. Leftist attacks on the Court now go beyond mere disagreement. Politicians and establishment commentators have called for the Court to be "dissolve[d]" or diluted with more justices. The Court is denounced as illegitimate. Protesters are dispatched to threaten the justices at their homes. Leftists use almost unheard-of racial epithets against Justice Clarence Thomas. Almost every non-leftist appointee must respond to bizarre sexual allegations before he can take office. Joe Biden is denounced by his allies for issuing mere condemnations instead of targeting the Court with a plan of attack.
While this strategy might not succeed immediately, a fundamental change in the power of the Judicial Branch is now in play. It is now acceptable to propose publicly the reduction of the Supreme Court to a subservient role. The word is out that the Court must either follow the establishment line or risk physical harm and, most importantly, permanent irrelevance. These changes would endure longer than merely the next election cycle. They would be as permanent as the bureaucratic explosion that has reduced Congress to a rubber-stamp role for many decades.
Once the Executive Branch is liberated from the shackles of the other two branches, the delicate balance created by the Founders will be gone. Our political situation would deteriorate drastically after such a change. All of the trappings of dictatorship — persecution, instability, economic upheaval, war, chaos — would follow quickly. Those with absolute power do not refrain from using it.
Our Independence Day celebrations might continue even under such a scenario, but they would be completely meaningless and hollow. Even now, we must reconsider whether we truly deserve to be called "independent" while we rush headlong into that dystopian future.
Image: Library of Congress via Picryl, no known copyright restrictions.