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Jan 7, 2014

NYT calls for enlightened despot to solve congressional gridlock


Cartoon: By R May 
Collectivists love the idea of strong leaders if they have the same collectivist ideas as themselves and pursue the same aims as the beholder.  Its not so much fun for them if the other side gets control of the reigns of power though, and you end up with a Margaret Thatcher, or worse still, (for both sides) a Campbell Newman.
For this reason, lefties around the world crave a philosophy that accommodates both the quick and easy idea of a central authority that is instantaneously able to grant their wishes, but not those of the other side.  The solution to the second part of this conundrum is the requirement that the person at the centre of things be able to understand the difference.
Clearly, as the proponent is presenting a vision for the future, the central authority has to be enlightened, just like the person advocating it considers himself to be.
David Brooks of the New York Times has resurrected the age-old concept of enlightened absolutism in his OP-Ed calling for increased powers for the executive branch to solve the problem of congressional gridlock in the US: 
... But there is a way out: Make the executive branch more powerful.This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood. It’s not that the executive branch is trustworthy; it’s just that we’re better off when the presidency is strong than we are when the rentier groups are strong, or when Congress, which is now completely captured by the rentier groups, is strong. 
Here are the advantages. First, it is possible to mobilize the executive branch to come to policy conclusion on something like immigration reform. It’s nearly impossible for Congress to lead us to a conclusion about anything. 
Second, executive branch officials are more sheltered from the interest groups than Congressional officials. 
Third, executive branch officials usually have more specialized knowledge than staffers on Capitol Hill and longer historical memories. 
Fourth, Congressional deliberations, to the extent they exist at all, are rooted in rigid political frameworks. Some agencies, especially places like the Office of Management and Budget, are reasonably removed from excessive partisanship. 
Fifth, executive branch officials, if they were liberated from rigid Congressional strictures, would have more discretion to respond to their screw-ups, like the Obamacare implementation. Finally, the nation can take it out on a president’s party when a president’s laws don’t work. That doesn’t happen in Congressional elections, where most have safe seats. …
It seems odd that at a time where the President is increasingly making use of executive orders and is being seen as moving progressively towards a monarchial or imperial form of rule, that the Times would be seeking more of it.
The US Constitution was designed to prevent the accumulation of power in any branch of government, something that has been eroded over the years.  Calling for a more despotic form of government is totally irresponsible.
While the NYT is essentially a liberal advocate and apologist rag which would tend to see more Obama as a good thing, it tends to forget that the Democrats do not have a permanent hold on the top job.  A good rough rule of thumb is; do not give your current Obama more power than you would like to see your next Bush wielding.

2 comments:

  1. Nick here, Jim! This is just an observation, but how would you decentralise the nuclear missile chain of command? Ideally, we would not have nuclear weapons, but, since we do, how do we decide who uses them?

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    1. That one is a bit outside my area Nick. I have limited knowledge of the US system of control over these things, although I understand that the President has the final say on launching them.

      Certainly there should be a setup where he cannot unilaterally launch a nuclear strike, however this must not be too inflexible to allow for an immediate response to an attack. The capability of such a response is necessary to act as a deterrent rather than being necessarily the case. It would be dangerous to be seen to be incapable of such an action.

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