Following up “What is a tyrant?” The dictionary tells us
DICTATOR a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force; a person who behaves in an autocratic way; (in ancient Rome) a chief magistrate with absolute power, appointed in an emergency. Synonyms: autocrat, absolute ruler, tyrant, despot, oppressor, Big Brother, supremo, and many more.
(I’m not generally using the second or third definitions. Private business – offices, shops, etc.) can have such dictators. Such businesses often fail quickly because no competent, self-respecting person wants to work for such a person. As for a “chief magistrate with absolute power” – well, the SPQR (Senate and People of Rome) DID have such a provision in their constitution. I understand that some Grecian city-states did, also. And a very few republics since then. No, let me repeat, NO, American republic in what is now the Fifty States has ever had such a thing, to my best knowledge. (Can’t speak for the very flawed Latin American republics.)
So, honestly, I do not think A SINGLE ONE of these many governors and mayors and county executives have any real Constitutional or legal authority for the total power they have assumed. The idea is anathema to liberty and American constitutional philosophy.
Very few states had the governor go to the Legislature, instead of just issuing “Executive Orders” (I more and more call them decrees or dictats.)
They claim that state and local governments have “inherent police powers” to do this sort of thing – someone tell me ONE constitution or charter that supports that claim. Maybe “tradition”? (They won’t accept a “tradition” like jury nullification or even the sanctity of marriage (and a millenia-old definition) but insist that they have these magical “police powers.”)
I have heard of mayors telling their councils to sit down and shut up – he (or she) was in control.
One of the great blessings in South Dakota: we have a legislature with a majority that can say no, and a governor that doesn’t go around the legislature or claim that the Bill of RIghts is “above her paygrade.”
Locally, I disagree with the Common Council of Rapid City (SD). (I think that the mayor should have stood his ground.) But they followed their own laws in voting for the partial shutdown. (Though no one has yet said WHAT gives them the power (other than the threat of force) to do that.) And I praise the Pennington County Commissioners for standing up and refusing to lockdown the county. Even so, the argument CAN be made that even in South Dakota, the state and many local governments HAVE acted in a dictatorial manner, if not tyrannically.
There IS (in my mind) a difference. A person can be a dictator without being tyrannical. Having the power without abusing (or even using) it. But that is rare, and Lord Acton’s dictum applies.
But MOST of the Fifty States (and territories) are NOT blessed in the way that South Dakota is. Their elected executives have seized power, obtained control, by at least the FEAR of force, and the THREAT of force sustains them.
I think that many – even most – of the politicians, at Federal, State, and Local and Tribal level – ARE scared out of their wits. This in large part is because they believed (and still believe) the panicked pronouncements of medical doctors and health-bureaucrats. (Who are frightened sick (pun intended) by the stories of doctors and nurses dying that came out of China and Italy. Sadly, I know a few.)
But their fears haven’t kept many of them from seizing the opportunity to grab more money, more power, and more control. Not just “for the duration” but for as long as they can hold on to it. Them and their chosen successors.
(Assuming that the Panic can’t be extended enough to delay (just “for the duration” of course) the next elections.)
Yes, many fear the response of their peers and especially the media. I don’t think ENOUGH fear the people who elected them and whom they supposedly represent.: they seem to be doing their best to PUSH people to rebellion and revolution. (So much so that we have to question if this IS why they are pushing so hard – open rebellion would justify them seizing MORE power.)
There may be a few governors who fear losing their job – but not many. Polis in Colorado basically bought his election with his own spare change. Mead in Wyoming is a wealthy attorney. Bullock in Montana is another wealthy attorney (DC type, to boot). Most have this kind of pedigree. These people are more and more either independently wealthy or know that they will make big bucks after they leave office.
And in the meantime, they know how to milk campaigns and giving to make their families wealthy. Bad as governors are, US senators (and many representatives) are even worse. Still, that is definitely a factor for some – especially those who don’t know how a free market works or thinks that the FedGov can bail everyone out.
But what really gripes (and grips) me is how many politicians are demonstrating that they are physical AND moral cowards. That is not whom we should elect to office, and whom we should honor. And it is, even on the Roman model, the LAST people who should be given the power of a dictator.
Instead of overcoming fears to do the right thing, they act because of their fears. And they do the “best thing” for their careers, their health and lives. They take counsel not just of their own fears but those of everyone around them: the political bosses, the medical people, the Progressives, and the media.
Dictators are nothing new, and the world outside the Fifty States is filled with them. But we don’t need or want them here.
So here I stand… “Put not your faith in princes,” Psalm 146:3 1st Corinthians 2:5 “That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”