By Mike Cronin
Over the last 240 years, our federal government has become a bloated monstrosity that bears little resemblance to the founder’s vision. It is so massive and tangled that there is little hope that we can restore it to a more reasonable size or constrain it from grabbing an ever-increasing share of our liberty and freedom. Even if we could elect a Congress and Presidency full of freedom- and liberty-minded politicians for a generation or more, it might not be enough to de-fang the beast and put it on a forced diet. How can we fix it?
I have an affinity for the adage that whoever wants to be the president is not qualified to have the job. I certainly don’t want it, but if I was ever elected, people might call me the world’s first libertarian* dictator**. If you think that’s a contradiction, you are only partially correct. No doubt, in all of human history, the record of dictators tends towards loss of freedom. But what if we had a dictator who used his or her power to shrink government and increase freedom?
Here’s how I would become subject to such a characterization:
After being elected and taking the oath of office, I would declare a state of emergency and impose martial law. It would be the weirdest martial law ever, because there would be no curfews or tanks in the streets. No rationing, checkpoints, or firing squads. Instead, I would go before the American people and explain that the emergency is that we are destroying the Republic with excessive government. Too many bureaucrats have too much power to regulate our lives.
My first dictate would be to abolish the IRS and institute the Fair Tax plan. We would no longer punish productivity; we would pay for government the same way we pay for everything else: according to how much we use. In the same stroke, I would put in place a plan to audit the Federal Reserve and end the use of fiat currency, and re-introduce currency exchangeable for precious metals or other suitable commodity. In these two acts alone, we would greatly curtail the power of the government by removing its prerogative to confiscate our money before we see it, and its ability to confiscate our wealth by devaluing the currency we have been allowed to keep.
I would also announce to the world that the vast bulk of our armed forces based abroad would be returning to US territory in calibrated withdrawals from foreign lands. Our defense strategy would focus on protecting US territory and US interests in international sea- and airspace. In this way, military spending could be reduced without reducing military strength. Indeed, such a pull-back would allow the armed forces a much-needed breather to reconstitute after decades of continuous warfare and deployments. No doubt, some countries would not be happy with us, while others, including some adversaries, would be ecstatic. It would certainly disrupt the balance of power in many regions…but it would not alter the fundamental truth in the global balance of power: The US has the most powerful military and the economic might to back it up.
Next, I would turn to the various departments of the executive branch. I would call in each incumbent cabinet-level secretary/director to defend the constitutionality of the operations, or even the very existence, of their department – on the basis of how it protects the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the citizens. Some would have an easy job of it, especially the Departments of Defense and Justice, and perhaps the Director of National Intelligence (though he or she would have a tough time convincing me domestic intelligence operations do more constitutional good than harm!). Some would have a very tough time indeed, such as the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Education, Energy, and the Interior.
Departments with unsatisfactory answers would be on the chopping block for re-organization, mission reductions, or even complete dismantlement. The chief of every department left standing would be under orders to examine all of their operations and to de-regulate anywhere such operations do not protect the life, liberty, or property of citizens.
There are innumerable issues that would have to be addressed during such a departmental shake up: Welfare. Social Security. Immigration. Guns. Abortion. Drugs. Trade. All manner of regulations. The list would be quite long, but always the test for each would be simple: How does a program, regulatory structure, function, etc. protect the rights of the citizens? Is the coercive power of the federal government the right way to address the issue? If the answer to the first question is that it does not, or to the second, no, then that program would be on the chopping block for re-design, privatization, or elimination.
Of course, such a scheme (getting elected on a “libertarian dictator” platform) is pretty much a pipe dream, but the idea that it will take some unorthodox leadership to re-align the Republic to the founders’ vision and restrict the government to its Constitutional limits is very timely.
*Note that my use of the word “libertarian” (little l) should not be construed as an endorsement for the (Big L) Libertarian Party.
**There is a book by the name of “The Libertarian Dictator” (published in 2015). I’ve never read it, but if any of the ideas I espouse in this post were first put forth in said book, I yield credit to the author.