Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Goodbye Liberalism: Hello Socialism

Theodore Lowi, in his far-seeing The End of Liberalism: The Second Republic of the United States, (1969) lays out the case that the long development of the policy intrusions of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society presented the liberal basis of the republic with a crisis. Ten years later, in a second edition, he declared we had had the crisis, and not survived it. "Fundamental changes in policies and institutions could readily be observed and have been widely accepted as inevitable or good or both. These changes turned out to be a series of adjustments our political system was making to a still more fundamental change of government and the basis of rule. Through these adjustments we had actually remade ourselves, politically speaking, to such an extent that I have called the results the Second Republic."

We know the "change" that Obama rode all the way to the White House is going to involve even more constitutional change of the sort Lowi discerned forty years ago, since the moral and constitutional slackness of the intervening years have made even a 700 billion dollar bail out, and the pushing into ownership of numerous banks, seem an afterthought--even under a Republican president. In Obama's own words, not even the Warren Court could “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution." There are very few such constraints left my friends, but even these it seems are too confining for an archon like Barry.

Though the Constitution of the Second Republic is unwritten, here is Lowi's "sketch" of its essential outlines.


PREAMBLE. There ought to be a national presence in every aspect of the lives of American citizens. National power is no longer a necessary evil; it is a positive virtue.

Article I. It is the primary purpose of this national government to provide domestic tranquility by reducing risk. This risk may be physical or it may be fiscal. In order to fulfill this sacred obligation, the national government shall be deemed to have sufficient power to eliminate threats from the environment through regulation, and to eliminate threats from economic uncertainty through insurance.

Article II. The separation of powers to the contrary notwithstanding, the center of this national government is the presidency. Said office is authorized to use any powers, real or imagined, to set our nation to rights making any rules or regulations the president deems appropriate; the president may delegate this authority to any other official or agency. The right to make all such rules and regulations is based on the assumption in this constitution that the office of the presidency embodies the will of the real majority of the American nation.

Article III. Congress exists, but only as a consensual body. Congress possesses all legislative authority but should limit itself to the delegation of broad grants of unstructured authority to the president. Congress must take care never to draft a careful and precise statute because this would interfere with the judgment of the president and his professional and full time administrators.

Article IV. There exists a separate administrative branch composed of persons whose right to govern is based on two principles: (1), the delegations of power flowing from Congress; and (2), the authority inherent in professional training and promotion through an administrative hierarchy. Congress and the courts may provide for administrative procedures and have the power to review agencies for their observance of these procedures; but in no instance should Congress or the courts attempt to displace the judgment of the administrators with their own.

Article V. The Judicial branch is responsible for two functions: (1), to preserve the procedural rights of citizens before all federal courts, state and local courts, and administrative agencies; and (2), to apply the Fourteenth Amendment of the 1787 Constitution as a natural-law defense of all substantive and procedural rights. The appellate courts shall exercise vigorous judicial review of all state and local government and court decisions, but in no instance shall the courts review the constitutionality of Congress’s grants of authority to the president or to the federal administrative agencies.

Article VI. The public interest shall be defined by the satisfaction of the voters in their constituencies. The test of public interest is reelection.

Article VII. The public interest to the contrary notwithstanding, actual policy making will not come from voter preferences or congressional enactments but form a process of tripartite bargaining between specialized administrators, relevant members of Congress, and the representatives of self-selected organized interests.

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