“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Benjamin Franklin famously told a woman who asked what form the new American government would take.
Regular readers of The Virginia Militia don’t need to be told how far we are from the humble republic that was once created for us. Our government has taken different forms over the past two centuries; republic, representative democracy, even fascism, and oligarchy have been used to describe our government in practice. But, as I am writing this our people are stocking up on food and supplies, not for fear of invasion, but for fear of an arbitrary government that seems difficult to describe.
Now, in mid March 2020, America and the world is in dissarray from the outbreak of Covid-19, a virus that by all accounts produces mild symptoms in most who contract it, and is perhaps deadly among the elderly usually when combined with other health problems. President Trump has called a national state of emergency and every state governor has issued their own state of emergency declaration. 13 states are in total lockdown, including the 40 million residents of California, many more states have ordered the shutdown of all “non-essential” businesses, and yet more have issued bans on large gatherings of people usually defined as being more than ten.
This has, of course, had a serious affect on the economy. The stock market is in freefall, with the dow losing more ground than at the lowest point during World War II. Oil prices have also dropped out, losing more than half its value per barrel of crude. With this dire economic picture the Federal Reserve has stepped in to try to save the economy. The Fed immediately has offered implicit bailouts of the big banks by promising a trillion dollars in zero-interest loans every single day and injecting trillions more into the economy. President Trump bailed out the oil industry by buying large stores of oil to add to the national oil reserve. More bailouts have been promised and more yet unpromised will be given.
It’s clear that the situation is dire and unprecedented. But something that should be observed is the way in which governments at every level are accomplishing all of this.
During the financial crisis of ’08 I remember the emergency bills that sailed through congress. The TARP bill and other bailouts where draconian and unconstitutional but legislators where pressured to vote them through anyway. There were Wall Street reform bills, equally ill-advised, yet congress was pressured to vote and the president no doubt felt obligated to sign.
These bills were extremely unpopular among both left and right, giving rise to Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movement. During those mid-term elections many establishment Republicans were voted out of office based on their bailout votes and in came a new slate of freshmen Republicans who claimed to give the Constitution more respect.
But currently, as I write this, I am unaware of any new emergency laws that have been written and then voted on. Every action our governments have taken seem to be executive actions, given out under the auspices of an emergency.
In Virginia, the tyrant Northam has declared it unlawful to hold gatherings in larger numbers than ten. Despite having a constitutional right to peacibly assemble, and despite Section 7 of the Virginia Constitution explicitly prohibiting the government from suspending or exercising law without the consent of the representatives.
Even the local city of Staunton Virginia has banned open-air food markets. Do they have the authority for that? No, they do not and have admitted as such when they recently hid behind the Dillon Rule in order to not issue a militia resolution.
Up until this point governments have at least pretended to respect the process by which they write law. This allowed the people some assurance that our rights would be minimally protected as we supposedly could use the process to right the wrongs. But in this emergency what process is being followed? What process are the people given? What can a new Tea Party movement do to oppose a Federal Reserve bailout that doesn’t bare the signatures of our elected representatives?
Each governor and each bureaucrat is now acting as though they are dictators of their own department. The Fed is printing and bailing and buying without permission and without punishment. It acts on its own whim, whatever it deams necessary.
The same goes for each governor. They are exorcising the powers of a dictator. How is it possible that one man can shutter millions of people into their own homes, not to come out, with simply the stroke of his pen. Or did he even need a pen at all?
If there were no emergency we would all recognize this as a complete totalitarian dictatorship, though different from the dictatorships of the past. Usually, when thinking of totalitarianism we think of the power of a nation residing in one strong-man dictator. The military uniform has been the uniform the totalitarian leader from Napolean, to Stalin and Hitler. Saddam and all of the Middle-Eastern despots have also donned the military uniform or at least presented themselves as the leaders of armies.
But, Northam and Newsom are soft and squishy looking men. They remind us more of an office department manager, and certainly, they present themselves as such. They claim to want to manage us, not rule us. Even if ruling is the actual effect of a government manager. And the power they wield with their dictatorial management is so far greater than most militant rulers. The power to shut 40 million people in their homes indefinitely seems to be a far greater power than even the power to kill 1000 men.
The form that our government has taken now is that of a vast totalitarian office building. Each department is headed up by a manager holding the powers of a dictator. Every governor, every mayor, every agency head represents these totalitarian department managers. They can do anything they please, so long as they pretend it falls under their purview.
The emergency cannot be the excuse for this behavior. After all, Hitler himself used the Reichstag Fire as the excuse to grant himself emergency powers. From then on he used those emergency powers, not to relinquish until the Nazi defeat in the war.
In Germany in the 1930s there was only one entity to defeat to end those emergency powers. In the United States of America in the 2020s there are a thousand entities that must be defeated to bring an end to our dictatorship of department managers.