This Memorial Day, I think it would be nice if Congress took back its right to declare war. After all, that and money were two things the founding fathers gave to Congress to ensure that both would remain in the hands of the people, or at least their representatives. That’s why Article One of the Constitution isn’t about the executive branch but the legislative. What are they supposed to legislate? Money and war, or those two things that Mark Twain assured us were unavoidable: death and taxes.
It’s a different world today. The President can just about wage war on his own while the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and IRS handle our money. We don’t need to worry about a thing. We just have to do three things to be patriotic citizens: produce goods at a frenetic pace, consume them with wild abandon, and spend whatever leisure time we have entertaining ourselves to death, as Neil Postman observed.
By entertainment, I mean Vegas, rappers, awards ceremonies where celebrities engage in a sort of mutual masturbation before millions of viewers, and professional basketball and football games, which are nothing more than media spectacles. It’s the ancient Roman formula of bread and circus, except in this case it’s high fructose corn syrup and Netflix.
Article Two of the Constitution states that “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Nothing more than that. It doesn’t say he can launch missiles into Syria (Trump), invade Libya (Obama), or turn Iraq upside down looking for weapons of mass destruction (Bush). Neither does it say he can disregard the Bill of Rights, suspend habeas corpus (Bush, Obama), or spy on Americans while lying to Congress (Obama). Yet, all manner of executive bullying has been done in the name of Article Two. Obama used it to bypass Congress regarding immigration and health care. Don’t like what the people’s representatives are doing? No problem. Just write an executive order.
This is not a partisan problem. Cheney, Powell, Clinton, Obama, Brennan, Clapper, Lynch, Bolton et alia are members of the same beltway cabal that does as it pleases and, if challenged, justifies its actions with either “national security” or “Article Two.” They even lie to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to get what they want. The problem reaches as far back as President Eisenhower, although Lyndon Johnson made the presidency truly imperial. Roman imperial, not republic, as in Caligula. For a time, Richard Nixon added a ridiculous flourish in the form of White House guard uniforms worthy of Pinochet in Chile.
This is a disgrace. I cannot, nor would I ever presume, to speak on behalf of those servicemen and women who have died in foreign wars, but I can’t believe that this is the kind of country, culture, and way of life they thought they were fighting for. Of course, few think they are fighting for a cause or system. They simply want to do their job and get back to their families in one piece.
Yet, we are moving toward a corporate totalitarian state with economic globalism, an elite cast of experts, and ongoing wars to perpetuate the system. Although this was best described by Benito Mussolini in the twenties, today it includes totalitarianism of all stripes, from politically correct Leftists at universities to “antifa” thugs in the streets. They are characterized by an intolerance for anything but their own beliefs, half baked though they are, and the justification of violence. Don’t believe me? Try talking to so-called liberals about Trump. They foam at the mouth and writhe on the floor with pangs of injustice and wounded virtue. And when they get up, it’s either to insult or hit you. I wish I were making this up. You need look no further than, “The revolution will not uphold the Constitution” from the ideologues at Black Lives Matter.
The problem is that Congress has ceded nearly all of its authority to the executive branch. If President Trump were serious about draining the swamp, he would surrender the authority given to him to use military force and put the onus back on the House and Senate to decide when to go to war. Or how about not going to war at all? It might help pay for the sorely-needed infrastructure improvements he has called for.
That, I think, would be a great Memorial Day tribute.