In my August 30 article, entitled “Trump’s Berlin Wall,” I wrote:
In any event, desperate to appease his statist supporters before Election Day, President Trump is proceeding apace with the construction of his Berlin Wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Never mind that he has never succeeded in getting congressional approval for his massive public-works project. In the finest tradition of dictators everywhere, he has decided to do it anyway, not with his own money but instead with money that Congress appropriated to the Pentagon for military “defense.”
A reader sent me an angry email accusing me of lying, pointing out that Congress approved partial funding for Trump’s Wall in February 2019.
He is partially right and partially wrong. He is right about Congress’s approval of the funding. I didn’t know that. He is wrong about my lying about the matter. I made a mistake. That’s different from lying.
Actually, however, my error does not detract from the real meaning of my piece, which is the dictatorial conduct that Trump is engaged in. Moreover, in a larger context, what Trump is doing goes to show how it’s not only liberals who have destroyed our free society, it’s also conservatives.
In February 2019, as part of the deal to end Trump’s month-long “shutdown” of the federal government, Congress voted to allot $1.375 billion for new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. That would mean about 55 miles of Trump’s border wall.
Needless to say, that appropriation left Trump angry and frustrated. During his campaign, he promised his supporters that he would build his Wall along the entire border and that he would force Mexico to pay for it. He broke his promise with respect to Mexico a long time ago. Rather than use his own personal money to build his Wall, he is now forcing Americans taxpayers to pay for it. That’s why Trump is angry and frustrated. He wanted Congress to force American taxpayers to fund his entire Wall, not just 55 miles of it.
To circumvent the clear intent of Congress, Trump declared a “national emergency” and ordered a diversion of an additional $6 billion in funds that Congress had appropriated to the Pentagon. Congress, however, did not appropriate those funds to the Pentagon to build a wall. The funds were appropriated for “military defense.” To make its intent clear, after Trump issued his dictatorial decree, Congress passed a resolution that expressly opposed any diversion of Pentagon funds to the construction of Trump’s Wall.
Faithfully and loyally following Trump’s orders, the Pentagon is now putting some 127 military construction projects on hold so that it can divert the funds to the construction of Trump’s Wall. That means, of course, that those 127 “defense” projects were unnecessary to “defense” in the first place, which, of course, shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Just consider just the financial ramifications of Trump’s dictatorial action. $1.375 billion funded 55 miles. $6 billion more out of Pentagon funds will build, say, another 150 miles. That’s a total of 200 miles. The border is 1,952 miles long. That means that Trump and the Pentagon still have a long way to go. But now that the precedent has been established, Trump now has carte blanche to use Pentagon funds to his heart’s content to build his wall.
Never mind that American taxpayers are already hard-pressed. Never mind that the Trump administration is spending annually $1 trillion more than what it is bringing in with tax revenues. Never mind that the federal government’s debt now exceeds $22 trillion. Never mind that Trump and the Democrats just cut a deal to lift the debt ceiling again and extend it beyond the election. All of that doesn’t matter. All that matters is to Trump and his Big Spending conservative supporters is that he gets his new Berlin Wall.
We live under a system of government where the ruler is not supposed to be permitted to do whatever he wants. Under our system, the ruler is required to operate within certain boundaries. Thus, under our system, the president does not enact the laws. That’s the responsibility of Congress. When the president wants to build a public-works project, such as Trump’s Wall, he must secure approval from Congress and the appropriation of funds from Congress.
For example, when President Eisenhower, another Republican, wanted to build the Interstate Highway System, another socialist public-works boondoggle, which he too justified as a military necessity, he still had to go to Congress to get the project approved and the funds appropriated. He was not permitted, under our system of government, to just order the military to begin constructing the highways. Ike understood that if he had done that, he would be operating like a dictator in a totalitarian regime.
The reader who accused me of “lying” also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Trump’s diversion of Pentagon funds and, therefore, that makes what he is doing okay. What my critic, along with Trump’s army of loyal followers, fails to recognize is that the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary have long deferred to the power of the U.S. national-security establishment, especially on matters relating to “national security.” That’s just the way things work under a national-security state type of governmental system.
Here is what Trumpsters and other conservatives just don’t get with Trump now operating in uncharted dictatorial waters: The power they are surrendering to Trump will now be able to be exercised by any president, not just Trump. That obviously includes any Democrat who happens to defeat Trump. Trump is establishing a dictatorial precedent that will be able to be followed by a President Sanders, Warren, Harris, Clinton, or any other Democrat who wins the presidency in the future.
Imagine a President Sanders declaring a national healthcare emergency and ordering the Pentagon to divert funds to a fully socialized healthcare system, without congressional approval. What will conservatives say then? I’ll tell you what they’ll say. They’ll say nothing. They will meekly accede to such dictatorial conduct because they know that they will have no realistic way to object to it, given their support of the same dictatorial conduct by their former Great Leader, Donald Trump.
When deliberating over whether to give a ruler a certain power, imagine that the ruler is your worst enemy, and then decide whether you want him to have that power. If you decide that you don’t want your worst enemy to wield such a power, then don’t delegate it at all, not even if the current ruler happens to be your Great Leader.
This is just one of the ways that conservatives have destroyed liberty and limited government in America. For anyone for whom liberty and limited government are still important, there is but one place to go: libertarianism.