United States President Donald Trump has issued a flurry of Executive Orders, in particular the one on immigration that has triggered widespread anger and condemnation. Many are saying that the order was crafted by alleged white supremacist and Trump's close advisor, Steve Bannon. Now lets not get into the murky waters of who crafted what. Let us agree that it was clumsily done and incompetently executed.
Still, presidential executive orders are tricky things -- undoing them, though not impossible, is a real mountain to climb. There are only three ways to do that. A sitting president can revoke, modify, or supersede any executive order: Presidents often undo the executive orders of their predecessors, (as Trump did with President Obama who did the same things with President Bush) but they have rarely retracted or overridden their own executive orders.
Congress can revoke, modify, or supersede an executive order if it felt that the president was acting under authority granted by Congress: But if Congress makes changes that the president disagrees with, it can expect to face a presidential veto, which it could only override with a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. Lastly, courts can declare an executive order illegal or unconstitutional. But again, barring several notable exceptions , the courts do not regularly overturn presidential actions.
So barring a miracle and a political epiphany by Republicans in Congress ANY executive order penned by Trump, Bannon, Conway, Miller et al will not be questioned, debated, or overturned. Welcome to United States of Caesarism; enter Republican cowardice and complicity with an arrogant, narcissistic White House and leader. Today, in stark contrast to their rowdy, obstructionist pogrom against Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, are both giving President Trump a nod and a wink as he gleefully defecates all over the hallowed United States Constitution.
When a chest-thumping Donald Trump was floating his ban on Muslim immigrants' entering the United States from seven majority Muslim nations, and thrusting the country into full chaos mode, where was Speaker Paul Ryan during all this? Doing some contrived meeting on business regulations and acting like if everything was normal on the US home front.
Not to outdone, his pal, Mitch McConnell in the Senate, was also hard at "work." Not to further the advance of the American people's agenda but getting his rocks off by working to kill one of President Obama's environmental regulations that protects waterways from pollution by coal mines. So its either they both genuinely fear the Trumpion One or they are the resident experts of sycophantic toadying and "brown nosed" genuflecting that make it exceedingly difficult for their "Presidential Hero" to go to the bathroom to do "Number 2."
In order to explain this glaring cowardice by the Republican Party and the potential of a creeping modern American Dictatorship, I have to turn to a fellow autodidact, Karl Marx. Writing in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon," he blamed the French upper classes for encouraging and enabling the dictatorship of Louis Napoleon. The dictatorship, he wrote, "was contained in a finished state within the parliamentary republic." He continued: "It only required a bayonet thrust for the bubble to burst and the monster to spring forth before our eyes."
Today, in 21st century America, Marx's observation and warning are particularly poignant and is an object lesson for progressives in 2017. We continues to believe that an American dictatorship of the late 20th Century type is impossible in a country where the very notion of freedom and democracy forms part of the body politic. We would like to believe that "we're exceptional" and such a thing can't happen here.
But with 80 years of progressive, liberal politics now under the gun and being dismantled, piece-by-piece, by a president hell-bent on remaking America in his own image and likeness, the possibility of an American dictatorship has never been so real. The fact is that for the past 50 years successive American presidents have been loosening and untying the United States Constitution's check and balances and constraints on unbridled and uncontrolled executive power. And in case you were sleeping, the rise of President George W. Bush signaled the final instutionalization of the "Imperial Presidency" that carries with it two concerns: that the US presidency is now uncontrollable and that it has exceeded the constitutional limits.