When Joe Biden is sworn in as president, he will solemnly pledge to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But the precedents that have piled haystack high since the New Deal assure that Biden can safely scorn his oath of office. Rather than a constitutional republic, America is increasingly an Elective Dictatorship where voters merely designate who exercises unchecked power over them in the following years.
Prior to the Trump era, America was already an Attention Deficit Democracy where citizens’ ignorance and apathy often entitled politicians to do as they damn well please. But changes in voting procedures last year catapulted our political system downward.
Shortly before the 2016 election, a Frank and Ernest cartoon showed a senator getting brief on Capitol Hill: “You’re winning over the low-information voters, but they always try to vote on the wrong day.” Democrats found a solution: vastly expanding early voting and mail in voting, capitalizing on COVID fears to abolish many of the long-standing protections about voter fraud. Mail-in ballots were combined in many states with paid ballot harvesting that made a travesty of “chain of custody” to assure the sanctity of the votes.
More than 65 million people voted by mail, providing the Biden victory margin. In Pennsylvania, a key swing state, Biden “won 3 of every 4 mail ballots” while “Trump won 2 of 3 votes cast in person, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. While many mail-in ballots had been nullified for errors in previous years, almost none were invalidated this year. The Trump campaign or Trump supporters filed a barrage of post-election lawsuits, almost all of which were dismissed on procedural grounds. Democrats claim the court rulings prove that no foul play occurred. But as publisher Conrad Black quipped, this is like saying, “I saw a dozen psychiatrists and none ordered a chest x-ray, so my lungs are healthy.”
The surge in mail-in voting is a sea change for American democracy regardless of whether widespread fraud occurred. Shortly before he was elected president, Sen. Barack Obama declared that the American political system is “designed to force us into a … ‘deliberative democracy,’ in which all citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality, persuading others of their point of view.” This is the tacit ideal that pundits and PBS invoke to claim that winning politicians hold power with “the consent of the governed.”
But any pretenses of “deliberative democracy” should be outlawed after the 2020 election train wreck. Citizens’ ratification of their rulers has descended to the level of the “I accept” box that most people mindlessly check to activate new software or access a web page. The software and web page notices usually include a link to a long list of terms and conditions which most people never bother reading. In the same way, legions of mail-in voters checked Biden’s name (and nothing else on the ballot) with no idea of his record or his positions. But ballots tacitly include an “I accept” box obliging submission to anything the winning politicians command in the following years.
The more power elections confer, the more irrelevant voters become after Election Day. Biden’s victory spurred delusions of grandeur—or at least victory—among progressive organizations that spent four years demonizing Trump. On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union sent out a shotgun email proudly announcing: “What happens after Jan. 20 is up to us.” But Biden never promised to “make America constitutional again.” Ironically, the ACLU has spent the last quarter century fighting repressive policies that Biden helped enact when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Biden recognized that many Trump opponents were not opposed to dictators—they merely wanted different dictates. Biden could speedily launch a barrage of executive orders and legislative proposals that could spawn disruption far and wide:
* Biden could dictate a national economic shutdown as part of his response to the pandemic. In August, Biden said, “I would shut [America] down” to fight Covid-19. He has flip-flopped on that issue. Biden is demanding that Americans wear masks for “100 days” and also promises 100 million vaccines injected into 100 million arms in 100 days. Non-compliance by many Americans along with debacles by a botched vaccine blitzkrieg will provide pretexts for seizing more power, perhaps even seeking to make vaccines mandatory.
* Late in the presidential campaign, Biden declared that “the court system” is “getting out of whack” and promised to appoint a commission that could propose boosting the number of Supreme Court Justices. If Biden packs the Court, one of the few restraints on his power will vanish.
* Under the Higher Education Act of 1965, Biden could issue a decree canceling “up to $50,000 of federal student loans per borrower,” Forbes reported. Biden thus far is seeking to cancel $10,000 per borrower but there is nothing to stop him from ratcheting up the de facto handouts to help Democratic candidates in the midterm elections or to boost his own reelection campaign.
* Biden will “immediately” send a bill to Congress to grant U.S. citizenship to 11 million illegal aliens, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Biden’s proposal will be far more radical than any prior administration’s proposal and could permanently boost Democratic political power across the nation.
* On foreign policy, Biden appointees have signaled that they want to rev up the Syrian Civil War and ratchet up confrontations with Russia. Both of these policies could quickly prove disastrous but presidential bellicosity has been almost impossible to constrain in the post-World War Two era.
The Elective Dictator peril is not simply a “Biden problem.” If Trump had been re-elected, Americans would remain at peril from his penchant for threatening war with Iran and his other loose cannon policies. Trump’s rhetoric on his prerogatives was often appalling. Early during the pandemic last year, Trump proclaimed, “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to be. It’s total.” Trump also declared, “The federal government has absolute power. It has the power. As to whether or not I’ll use that power, we’ll see.” In late 2017, Trump idiotically told the New York Times that he had “an absolute right to do what I want to with the Justice Department.” Elective dictatorship will remain a problem regardless of who wins the 2024 presidential election.
Unfortunately, the electoral changes of 2020 may set precedents for far more unverified mail-in ballots in future elections. The 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter, warned, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” But after Biden’s success (combined with the down ballot failures by other Democratic candidates), liberals and their media allies will redouble their pushes to blanket potential voters with mailed ballots. Even the minor safeguards that exist in some states could be expunged. Future elections may devolve into desperate paper chases where both political parties scramble to gin up enough pieces of paper to claim the throne. Will we end up with a Drop Box Democracy designed so that minimal efforts by voters will automatically sanctify maximum power for politicians?
Biden is taking office at a time when more Americans believe in witches, ghosts and astrology than trust the federal government. Barely a quarter of Republican voters now trust U.S. elections. Despite the best efforts of the media to hallow Biden’s power, the controversies of the 2020 election continue to cast a cloud over his legitimacy.
Biden may also stumble badly out of the gate from the dreadful optics of his inauguration. Tens of millions of Americans who have not followed the latest announcements on the shutdowns of bridges to Washington will be appalled to see that Biden is speaking not to fellow citizens but to 190,000 flags surrounded by daunting fences. Only a smattering of Washington elite will be permitted to hear Biden.
Four years ago, the media relished Trump’s yammering about the size of his inauguration crowd. This time, the only question will be how many National Guard troops are deployed and how visible or aggressive they are. The media insists the massive lockdown and militarization is necessary to thwart “violent extremism” but the only person shot during the January 6 ruckus was an Air Force female veteran killed at point blank range by a Capitol policeman. The supposed extremist peril justified almost completely abolishing freedom of speech on Inauguration Day: only two mini-protests with 100 participants each will be allowed at spots far from the Capitol. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser justified the crackdown:, “We have a special responsibility: that there is a peaceful transition of power in our country.” After four years of endless howling that Trump was literally Hitler, his successor will take power with a level of suppression of dissent and a display of military force that may resemble an old-time Kremlin May Day Parade more than a traditional American inauguration.
Perhaps the ominous overtones of the Inauguration festivities or some of Biden’s first power grabs will re-awaken more Americans to the danger of letting presidents behave like Elective Dictators. Those seeking wisdom on Wednesday are more likely to strike gold in the words of one of America’s most revered senators than in Biden’s inaugural address. Sen. Daniel Webster warned in 1837 that “the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
The media assures that Joe Biden’s life experiences made him truly compassionate about Americans struggling with hard times. But the real issue is that President Biden’s vast power will pose the same deadly threat to Americans’ rights and liberties that his predecessors posed. Once a president escapes the confines of the Constitution, the American people will eventually find themselves shackled. Regardless of whatever flowery rhetoric Biden reads from the Teleprompter on Wednesday, Americans need to recognize that their political system is edging closer to collapse.