I often find it amazing how so many believe the United States is somehow immune to the examples of history. If we were to look into empires, both large and small throughout history we find the same chain of events taking place in which brings these empires into a state of decline and then failure.
It was Sir John Bagot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, who wrote about this cycle of empires in his 1978 book, The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival, where he describes the seven steps most powerful empires have gone through (the following has been taken from Eric Snow’s article The Life Cycles of Empires: Lessons for America Today?):
1. The age of outburst (or pioneers).
2. The age of conquests.
3. The age of commerce.
4. The age of affluence.
5. The age of intellect.
6. The age of decadence.
7. The age of decline and collapse.1
What I would like to address is the seventh cycle, The age of decline and collapse.
If we dial back the hands of time to recent 20th century history, we find in times of turmoil, especially economic turmoil, gives rise to a strongman on the political scene. A leader who has the answers and solutions for the people’s misery. We saw that in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power during the super inflationary period of the ill fated Wiemar Republic in Germany. We can hearken back to our own economic tumultuous times during the Great Depression where a strong leader in Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to be elected president. Both men increased the power of the central government and both men were elected. Both men promised to save the downtrodden and working man from his plight. Both men made radical changes in the governance of the people as had been the case before. Although the comparison of Hitler and FDR is a loose one, at best, the point being made here is that both men were elected into power and both men transformed their nations into something it never was in it’s past. Thanks to FDR we now have an ever expanding bureaucratic state that shows no sign of ever getting smaller. In Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises’ book, Bureaucracy2 we understand that once a bureaucracy begins it only grows. It is best described in what is known as Parkinson’s Law in which, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” For a good explanation of how this works in governments read John Tamny’s article What Parkinson’s Law Says About Federal Spending.3 Before the reign of Roosevelt the citizens didn’t have the expectation that government was put in place to save them from themselves. But many decades and generations later, this expectation is so prevalent that some one in six4 of the population receives government assistance in one form or another. FDR has given the United States it’s “bread and circuses” of the declining Roman Empire under her Cesarean cycle of the republic. Ancient Rome had also gone through the same cycles as mentioned above before her decline. The prominent cycle I would like to emphasis here is Rome’s Cesarean Cycle. This is her time period where she turned from a free republic, governed by the Roman Senate, to a totalitarianism of Caesars usurping power.
In FDR’s defense, the first U.S. president to try his hand in being a Cesar was Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson. In 1832 he openly defied a Supreme Court ruling of Worcester v. Georgia which defended the Cherokee Nation’s right to remain in it’s land. The state of Georgia held two land lotteries in 1835 to divide the Cherokee land, and Jackson sent military support to oust the Native population. This led to what is now known as the “Trail of Tears”, which killed roughly four thousand Cherokee (25%), en route to Oklahoma.5
Abraham Lincoln also tried his hand in playing the tyrant. According to economist and historian Thomas J. DeLorenzo, Among Lincoln’s unconstitutional acts were launching an invasion without the consent of Congress, blockading Southern ports before formally declaring war, unilaterally suspending the writ of habeas corpus and arresting and imprisoning thousands of Northern citizens without a warrant, censoring telegraph communications, confiscating private property, including firearms, and effectively gutting the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.6
We find this tendency again in FDR’s cousin Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy is also known as the Father of Progressivism, and the Father of the Square Deal. This was TR’s project to bridge corporate America with labor. The Square Deal had three goals in mind, the conservation of natural resources, the control of corporations and consumer protectionism. All of which are not defined in the Enumerated Powers Clause, Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Teddy thought the Senate was a hindrance to giving the people what they wanted. He sited his mentor, Andrew Jackson who thought that since the entire population voted for the one man, The President, then it is the executive’s responsibility to concentrate power unto itself. It was Lew Rockwell that put it best in his recent blog while quoting TR himself:
“[I]n the days of Abraham Lincoln [the Republican party] was founded as the radical progressive party of the Nation. * * * It remained the Nationalist as against the particularist or State rights party, and in so far it remained absolutely sound; for little permanent good can be done by any party which worships the State’s rights fetish or which fails to regard the State, like the county or the municipality as merely a convenient unit for local self-government, while in all National matters, of importance to the whole people, the Nation is to be supreme over State, county, and town alike.
“As to all action of this kind there have long been two schools of political thought, upheld with equal sincerity. . . The course I followed, of regarding the executive as subject only to the people, and, under the Constitution, bound to serve the people affirmatively in cases where the Constitution does not explicitly forbid him to render service, was substantially the course followed by both Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln.
“When I was inaugurated on March 4, 1905, I wore a ring . . . containing the hair of Abraham Lincoln.. . . I often thereafter told John Hay that when I wore such a ring on such an occasion I bound myself more than ever to treat the Constitution, after the manner of Abraham Lincoln, as a document which put human rights above property rights when the two conflicted.. . . . I believed in invoking the National power with absolute freedom for every National need. . . ” [Theodore Roosevelt: an Autobiography (New York: Macmillan Company, 1913) pp. 381–382, 394–395, 420 (emphasis added)].7
Today, we are given a choice, once again, to elect our president. We have the incumbent, Obama and the Republican counter choices. The odd man and popular among the liberty loving crowd, Ron Paul. The neo-cons of the Washington D.C. Beltway are slugging it out between the Bush-lite candidate of Mitt Romney or the pseudo-conservative candidate Newt Gingrich. Both men represent the status quo to one degree or another. But the one who sends red flags up in my mind is Gingrich. The man who stated the best U.S. president of all time was FDR? The man who considers himself as an “internationalist” and admirer of Theodore Roosevelt? Who received over a million dollars in payments from Fannie Mae? Who’s lobby group received millions from Big Pharma during the Medicare Prescription Drugs Debates?
Aside from these questions, what concerns me most is his desire to expand the power of the executive like never before.
According to The Hill, in a conference call with reporters, Gingrich indicated that it was in the president’s power as commander-in-chief to deem any Supreme Court ruling irrelevant if he or she in the White House disagreed.
In his 28-page paper, “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution,” Gingrich suggests a number of radical ways in which the legislative and executive branches should rein in “lawless judges,” including by eliminating courts they don’t like, limiting the scope of decisions those courts can make, and simply ignoring Supreme Court decisions.8
We can look at these “choices” and remember the cycle of powerful empires. Today, we find ourselves in America under a rule of Caesars. Presidents growing the power of the executive term after term. We watch debate after debate and candidates are asked monarchic questions about what they would do under a Romney Administration or Perry Administration and so on. This is the attitude the national government has so well perpetrated on the masses. People actually think we are electing some sort of monarch or divine ruler with utter authority to rule by decree. The Founders have envisioned an executive as not much more than a figure head with the veto power. One who would coordinate the military in times of war as the Commander-in-Chief. Today, it is common among the man in the street and the reporter on television cable or network news to refer to the president as if he has the power of George III to raise or lower taxes, spend the people’s money or go to war at will. Is all this just a vivid imagination? Is this paranoia? Think about it. The question still echoes in my head that is asked so many times.”If you were the President, what would you do to…” You fill in the blank. It doesn’t matter. The president doesn’t have the power under the Constitution to do much at all except enforce the laws. Popular belief says he’s the leader of the free world. The most powerful man in the world. He’s Caesar!
So, I ask, who do think will be the next “elected” president? If we follow along the path of failing empires the answer would be simple. Newt Gingrich. The candidate that even out does Obama in his belief in the tyranny of the executive. My hope is that America will wake up and turn back towards it’s roots in liberty and choose Ron Paul. I’m not holding my breath.