If Trump Wants to Be Hitler, He's Doing It All Wrong
Instead of expanding power as Obama did, he's relinquishing it.
It’s amazing to see how the shocking election of a hard-charging, blustery, populist Republican as president can completely reverse the views of progressive Democrats on the issue of executive power.
Under Barack Obama, Democrats cheered when he proclaimed that he had a “phone and a pen” he could use to bypass a Republican Congress. Democrats defended him when he declared he had the right to determine when another branch of government — the Senate — was in session, and when it was not. After his failure to achieve “comprehensive” immigration reform, Obama created the DACA and DAPA programs to grant de facto amnesty to millions of illegals, something he previously repeatedly declared beyond his powers. He unilaterally rewrote sections of ObamaCare to fit his political needs, despite the fact that the Constitution grants all legislative power to Congress. He tried to force Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing birth control, he trampled on free speech rights, and he negotiated a non-treaty with Iran and refused to submit it to the Senate for ratification.
And Democrats cheered.
In every facet of his administration, Obama used raw political power to force through his agenda, even in direct violation of the Constitution’s limits on executive authority. Yet Democrats yawned at such abuse of power, or openly encouraged, aided and abetted it.
Yet now that Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office, Democrats have suddenly discovered the virtues of the separation of powers, and checks and balances on the use of power. Democrats go on TV and declare Trump a fascist and an American Hitler, claiming he is trying to crush free speech and rule as a dictator — apparently oblivious that their televised histrionics and condemnations of Trump disprove their own claims.
Ironically, despite Trump’s willingness to trade blow-for-blow with the media, his constant tweets, and his charged rhetoric, Trump’s actual governance has been the antithesis of dictatorial.
Trump has installed a cabinet of highly intelligent, accomplished, independent thinkers who often expressed disagreement during Senate confirmation hearings with certain aspects of Trump’s positions. His nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is lunacy if President Trump’s goal is to consolidate and expand executive power. Judge Gorsuch has a long record of opposing expansion of executive power, and he advocates even more vigorously for restricting the power of the presidency than the man he would replace, Justice Antonin Scalia.
When President Trump’s so-called travel ban was blocked by the oft-overturned Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, rather than follow Obama’s example and press forward anyway, or run to the Supreme Court, Trump criticized the ruling (and correctly so; it was a political ruling, not a legal one) but abided by it nevertheless.
And though his reversal of the Obama “transgender bathroom mandate” brought leftist wailing and gnashing of teeth, claiming Trump was stripping poor, vulnerable transgendered children of needed protections (when the truth is that it protects all children from sexual predators and deviants), all his action did was return that decision to the states, which are free to implement the foolish policy if they so choose.
President Trump has also issued several executive orders regarding federal regulations, with one directing executive agencies to begin looking to repeal two regulations for every one passed. Another EO calls for the appointment of a Regulatory Reform Officer within each agency, as well as a Regulatory Reform Task Force, both charged with culling through the massive regulatory code with the goal of eliminating as many job-killing, burdensome regulations as possible. The end results of these actions are to reduce executive power, not increase it.
National Review’s David French, a Never Trump conservative in 2016, well captures the essence of the Trump administration thus far, arguing, “There’s no doubt that Trump has expressed on occasion authoritarian desires or instincts. In the campaign, he expressed his own hostility for the First Amendment, his own love of expansive government eminent-domain takings … and declared that he alone would fix our nation’s most pressing problems. But so far, not only has an authoritarian presidency not materialized, it’s nowhere on the horizon.”
“Instead,” French continues, “he’s facing a free press that has suddenly (and somewhat cynically) rediscovered its desire to ‘speak truth to power,’ an invigorated, activist judiciary, and a protest movement that’s jamming congressional town halls from coast to coast.”
Nearly every single cabinet position is now staffed by someone who promises to return federal power to the states, and to the people, and in the process reducing their own power. Yet screeching, weeping, whining, hand-wringing, protesting, hyperbolic snowflakes rage 24/7 about the dangers of President Trump’s power. They claim he is the new Hitler.
But if President Trump’s goal is to wield an iron grip on the levers of power, to crush free speech and dissent, and to silence his opposition, then he is going about it in the most baffling, backwards and incompetent way possible.