Current Elitist Threats to Our Republic
by Mark Hendrickson September 6, 2019
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”—Ronald Reagan
“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”—H.L. Mencken
“There are men [and now women] in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”—Daniel Webster
“As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”—Abraham Lincoln
In speaking of potential threats to our liberty, Lincoln warned of ambitious individuals of the type described by Mencken and Webster—people seeking power to impose their own private, elitist vision on the American people. Honest Abe said that our best defense against such lust for power was to uphold and abide by the Constitution and laws. Only by such jealous protection can we protect our rights and liberty from being subverted.
The four quotes above are cited because our system of government and law—indeed, our very rights and liberty—are under assault from many quarters within our society.
Various Americans who believe that they know the “right” path forward for our country crave the power to force their plans upon us. It’s clear they’re willing to trample the Constitution, our laws, and our traditions, if that’s what it takes to achieve their goals.
The most obvious collective movement in this direction is the radical and messianic agenda of the democratic socialists. But in this article, I would like to focus on four instances of specific ways in which our system is under attack.
Last month, five U.S. senators—Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), all Democrats—launched an ugly attack against the conservative members of the Supreme Court.
Essentially, the senators have issued a two-fold threat—first, to make life miserable for justices who vote contrary to the desires of the Democratic Party, and second, to attempt to restructure the Supreme Court itself unless the conservative justices change the way they vote on cases.
In seeking to intimidate and control what cases the court hears and what decisions the justices render, the senators are committing aggression against the hallowed principle of the separation of powers. They also are acting with rank hypocrisy, saying they want to “reduce the influence of politics” on the court, while at the same time trying to coerce the court to rule in accord with their political agenda.
National Popular Vote
The National Popular Vote initiative seeks to bypass the constitutionally mandated Electoral College by awarding a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide rather than in their own state. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia (all, not coincidentally, governed by Democrats) have enacted such legislation.
How ironic that those who howl in protest about “disenfranchisement” whenever a state or municipality purges its voter rolls of dead people and duplicate registrations have no compunctions about disenfranchising a majority of actual voters in their own states.
Consider, too, a recent decision rendered by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: The judges ruled that electors can vote for whomever they want for president, regardless of any state laws requiring them to cast their vote for the candidate who received a majority of votes in that state. Such a policy would be an invitation to graft and corruption.
Both the National Popular Vote and the recent court decision make a mockery of our principle of representative government.
You might think that it would be impossible for presidential electors to be bought off. After all, we could have the FBI monitor their finances, right? But what if the FBI itself has become politicized and lawless? What if its top officials have decided that, for the good of the country, they need to abandon impartiality and instead actively intervene to decide who should be president of the United States? That’s where we are in the post-Jim Comey era.
I won’t belabor former FBI Director Comey’s transgressions here. They’ve been widely documented and discussed elsewhere. (The Wall Street Journal article “Jim Comey’s Higher Virtue” provides a useful overview.) However, it’s plain that the American republic is in jeopardy when its top law enforcement officers believe they are above the law and entitled to act as kingmakers.
Just as the machinations of Comey show the dangers of “the deep state,” so do the candid remarks of another powerful, unelected wannabe kingmaker: William Dudley, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In an amazingly brazen opinion column on Bloomberg.com on Aug. 27, Dudley floated the notion that the Fed might be justified in adopting policies designed to prevent the reelection of President Donald Trump.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve system is already regarded in many circles as the second-most powerful person in the country. That’s already a troubling anomaly in a country based on a democratically accountable representative government.
To suggest that the Fed act to tilt the election of the most powerful person in the country—the president—toward the candidate of its preference is an egregious affront to our system of government.
All Americans need to be alert to what is going on around us, even though much of the actual plotting is taking place behind closed doors. Partisan and ideological zealots seek to ride roughshod over the constitution and laws that have kept Americans free for over 200 years. I’m not asserting that these are evil people. They simply are in the thrall of the three meta-errors that pervade progressivism: an unjustified faith in government competence, an exaggerated confidence in what human willpower can accomplish, and the self-delusions of good intentions.
But even if they are not inherently bad people, they are very dangerous.
Their attempts to undermine our democratic republic’s principles make Reagan’s warning exceedingly timely: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Mark Hendrickson, an economist, recently retired from the faculty of Grove City College, where he remains a fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith & Freedom.