Preemptive Offenses

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Evolution Of An American Aristocracy

Alexis de Tocqueville observed, in a tone of blended consternation and admiration, that Americans had no royalty, and no aristocracy -- and needed none. The law, he said, is king in America; the people of the brave new nation took it as seriously as any proclamation from a European throne, if not more so.

Indeed, the Constitution expressly prohibits the formation of an aristocracy:

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state. [Article I, Section 9, final paragraph]

Therefore, Jefferson's rhapsodies about "the natural aristocracy of men" to one side, the U.S. is Constitutionally barred from creating a class of persons with legal privileges or duties that differ from those of common citizens. It's right there in black and white. Those of us who believe the document means what it says figure that should settle the matter.

Except that it doesn't.

Consider these thoughts from a sober and intelligent writer:

Throughout the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, President Obama promised to transform America into something better, a land filled with hope and change. It appears, however, that the man who vacations in Martha's Vineyard, golfs with Tiger Woods, and sends the Secret Service to accompany his wife and daughters on international vacations to Spain, Mexico, and now the Bahamas has another agenda in mind. He seeks to transform constitutional presidential authority into royal prerogative. Judging by the failure of any media source other than Breitbart, Drudge, and Instapundit to cover this story, it is also quite clear that the mainstream media has decided to play the role of dutiful courtiers to this expansion of presidential powers....

But during the Obama administration, presidential authority has been unconstrained to a remarkable degree, ranging from the unconstitutional use of the "recess" appointment to blatant abuses of executive privilege. The courtiers of the mainstream media have been fawning in their treatment of these unfettered and apparently successful attempts to transform traditional constitutionally authorized presidential authority into extraconstitutional royal prerogative.

The author notes that part of the job of constraining such usurpations of powers never delegated lies upon the press. If the press fails to cover such developments adequately, the people will fail to respond to them as they should.

Today's press has indeed failed at that task. Indeed, it operates in the inverse fashion: its reporters gloss over such usurpations, while its editorialists strain to rationalize them.

This inversion isn't confined to the press's treatment of the federal government alone. Consider how Michael Bloomberg has come out openly against freedom. We might summarize the attitude as "We in government know best, so you're going to eat your spinach whether you like it or not." His defenders include that grayest of Gray Ladies, the ever-shrinking New York Times.

(In a remarkable development, the Race Card has been edited into the Anti-Semitism Card: that noted social analyst Al Sharpton has told us so. Which raises the question: Had Rudy Giuliani tried any of Bloomberg's intrusive tricks, would Sharpton have dismissed his detractors as "anti-Italian?" Now, now, let's not always see the same hands.)

These politicos, and others such as New York State governor Andrew Cuomo, are being made by degrees into an American aristocracy. They're being wrapped in a mantle of intellectual and moral superiority they've done nothing to earn, and are protected by various devices by fawning press coverage and unctuously favorable editorials. The end in view is the common citizen's submission to "his betters."

Submission implies both the acceptance of special aristocratic privileges and a lack of protection against arbitrary and illegitimate exercises of authority. We are expected to accept that the Obamas can tour the world as they please, send their daughters to the Bahamas, spend millions upon millions of dollars of public funds on all sorts of personal indulgences...while closing the White House to public tours and exhorting us to sacrifice for the "common good." And we are expected to accept that Obama can decide which aspects of the law he will "faithfully enforce," which he will ignore, and which he will permit his lieutenants to break without penalty.

Because he's our superior, you see. God anointed him when he garnered his 270th electoral college vote. Likewise, Cuomo can ignore the Second Amendment and Bloomberg can ignore the powerful New York City majority that enacted term limits, because mere words on parchment ought not to constrain one favored by God.

Just now, Calvin Coolidge is enjoying a revival of public appreciation as an uncommonly effective and scrupulous president. Compare him to Obama. Compare Grover Cleveland's behavior as governor of New York to that of Andrew Cuomo...or to his father, come to think of it. Compare just about any previous mayor of New York to Michael Bloomberg.

Choose whom you prefer. Your choice will tell you whether you regard politicians as an American aristocracy...and whether you prefer to be a free man, or a serf.

Choose wisely.

1 comment:

KG said...

And it's not just politicians, is it?
Bureaucrats also have become a privileged class, unaccountable, often immune to the law and able to impose their will on the people regardless of Constitutional constraints.