by David McElroy
In 1933, the National Socialist Party had gained enough votes in the German parliament that Adolph Hitler won the post of chancellor. Because Germany didn’t have a winner-take-all system for a leader as we do, it wasn’t that sort of election. But Hitler gained power legitimately through the electoral system.
In the coming months, Hitler used every excuse he could to bully the Reichstag into passing laws giving him absolute power. In other words, Hitler used the legal political system to gain power. His goons certainly did work behind the scenes that was illegal, in order to scare Germans into believing they needed him, but the correct legal authorities gave him power.
At what point did Hitler go from being a popular and democratically elected politician to being a dictator? Is there really a difference?
From the early days of the country, U.S. presidents have used so-called “executive orders” to do things which Congress hadn’t specifically authorized. Some of those things were benign and followed directly with the intent of Congress. In other cases, presidents seized powers that they absolutely didn’t have. For instance, Franklin Roosevelt issues an executive order giving power to the military to round up Americans whose ancestry was Japanese. There was no legal authority for this. He simply did it. And nobody stopped him.
Was he a dictator? In what ways do the unilateral actions of a U.S. president differ from the unilateral, dictatorial actions of Hitler?
On Wednesday, we expect to see Barack Obama issue executive orders which are aimed at preventing you and me from owning weapons which he doesn’t approve of. He plans to surround himself with children from across the country; in a disgusting display of dishonesty and cynicism, he’s going to pretend that he’s taking these actions because these children have asked him to make them safe. (As far as I know, he has no plans to ban the automobiles and bathtubs which are far more of a danger to them statistically, but that’s another matter.)
Congress hasn’t granted Obama the power to take these actions. He’s seizing authority and betting that he can force politicians to accept the changes by getting enough of the public on his side. That’s the political gamesmanship involved. But here’s the real question. When do we decide that a president has disobeyed his oath of office and violated the clear intent of our legal system by taking actions which are illegal?
When do we decide that a president has become a dictator?
For many decades, presidents have done things such as this and politicians have sat idly by, ignoring the fact that there was no authority for what he was doing. Is that going to happen again? Is there anything that our supposed representatives won’t sit still for now? Is there any point at which politicians will say, “Hold on. Our system doesn’t allow you to do that”?
As you know, I believe the entire coercive state needs to fall. The evil of majoritarianism needs to be recognized and individual rights respected instead. But for those who claim they favor “limited government” — whatever that really is — this is a litmus test. If you believe there are any limits on what a government can do, you have to respect the fact that only Congress can make law, especially when it’s contrary to the intent of the Second Amendment.
Barack Obama — along with every other U.S. president — has become a dictator. Yes, he was elected by a democratic system, but he’s seizing power with pieces of paper that claim to give him power to take our rights. In what way are his usurpations of our rights different from Adolph Hitler did?
We have a system of impeachment and removal for a reason. When a president engages in illegal actions, the system ought to be used. If you have any pretension of limited government, now is the time to stop the illegal dictatorship being run from the White House.
If you refuse to stop it simply because you don’t like guns and agree with Obama’s intent, how can you claim to support anything other than a dictatorship that you happen to agree with?