How Tyranny Happens

by Conor Friedersdorf

In this column, Thomas Sowell rambles for awhile about an ill-defined elite, makes the dubious assertion that Woodrow Wilson was the first president to openly attack the Constitution, and finally gets around to his real purpose -- arguing that Barack Obama is acting outside constitutional constraints. It's remarkable passage from a man who has written a lot of intelligent things in his life. we have an administration in Washington that circumvents the Constitution wholesale, with its laws passed so fast that the public cannot know what is in them, its appointment of "czars" wielding greater power than Cabinet members, without having to be exposed to public scrutiny by going through the confirmation process prescribed by the Constitution for Cabinet members.

Now there is leaked news of plans to change the immigration laws by administrative fiat, rather than Congressional legislation, presumably because Congress might be unduly influenced by those pesky voters-- with their Constitutional rights-- who have shown clearly that they do not want amnesty and open borders, despite however much our betters do. If the Obama administration gets away with this, and can add a few million illegals to the voting rolls in time for the 2012 elections, that can mean reelection, and with it a continuing and accelerating dismantling of America.

What I find remarkable about these rants is the omission of the single area where President Obama is actually transgressing against the Constitution in a seemingly dangerous way: his waging of the war on terrorism. I don't think Obama is a tyrant, or remotely likely to become one, but history certainly leads me to believe that a rapidly growing surveillance state, an executive that asserts the power to order extrajudicial killings of American citizens, and the waging of undeclared war in numerous countries spread about the globe are cause for serious concern -- and certainly more worthy of mention than the rapid passage of laws by a duly elected Congress!

It's bizarre. Thomas Sowell apparently worries that President Obama might conspire to steal re-election by adding millions of illegal immigrants to the voting rolls before 2012, but his exercise of unprecedented executive power in wartime doesn't even warrant a mention in a column about overstepping constitutional bounds.