Is our government legitimate?
Prior to last year’s election, supporters of Hillary Clinton worried that Donald Trump and his supporters might not accept Hillary Clinton’s victory as legitimate. It never occurred to them that the shoe might soon be on the other foot. Shortly after it became apparent that there would be no Clinton victory party, many of her supporters instantly switched gears and began to question the legitimacy of Trump’s victory.
No matter how much it angers some people, though, Donald Trump is the duly elected President of the United States. Still, there is a much more fundamental question about the legitimacy of the government he leads. It’s has nothing to do with who won the election.
Over the past four decades, American government has been completely transformed by the growth of the Regulatory State. Most governing decisions are now made by distant bureaucrats with little input from Congress. Courts rarely provide any checks and balances giving executive branch officials free reign to interpret laws according to their own preferences and agendas.
“An ‘unaccountable’ government, insulated from the public and their elected representatives, threatens the very legitimacy of a democratic political system,” according to Yale University’s Jonathan G.S. Koppell. The Regulatory State “is not merely unconstitutional; it is anti-constitutional,” adds Boston University Law Professor Gary Lawson. “The Constitution was designed specifically to prevent the emergence of [these] kinds of institutions.”
By placing its faith in unaccountable government officials to pick winners and losers, the Regulatory State is a rejection of the core American values of freedom, equality and self-governance. This hostile takeover of America’s government did not happen by accident or misunderstanding. Its architects “did not misunderstand the Constitution,” explains Lawson. “They understood it perfectly well. They just didn’t like it.”
Lacking Constitutional authority, the Regulatory State might conceivably claim legitimacy by appealing to the higher values expressed in the Declaration of Independence. But that great document says clearly that governments can derive just authority only from the consent of the governed.
The Regulatory State fails on that front as well. During the entire four decades of its existence, there has never been a time when a majority of Americans trusted the federal government (other than a brief blip immediately following 9/11). The longer that people have lived under the regulatory regime, the less they support it. Over the past decade, the number trusting the federal government to do the right thing most of the time has fallen to 25 percent or less.
The Regulatory State, therefore, can claim no legitimacy from either the Constitution or the Declaration. Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office and who controls Congress, it is an illegitimate form of government. It gives far too much power to the president, a fact that instills tremendous fear of oppression among those who support the losing candidate.
It’s time to re-establish a legitimate government in America and restore our national commitment to freedom, equality, and self-governance. That means forcing the bureaucracy to live within our Constitutional system of checks and balances. It’s the only way to ensure a bright future for our nation. It’s also the only way to ensure that, regardless of who wins an election, all Americans can enjoy the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.