Authoritarianism is defined as “of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people.” Authoritarians use the power of government to effect control over the people governed, frequently over the people’s opposition and at the expense of freedom and liberty. There will always be some people who believe they know better than anyone else about “what should be done” and thus should be in control.

In the US, the Democrat Party is naturally filled with authoritarians, as they are the party of government. The problem for them is that the US Constitution binds the federal government to the will of the people. This prevents Democrats from ruling by fiat and implementing actions not widely supported by the American people. Barack “Mr. I’ve Got a Pen and a Phone” Obama is a natural authoritarian who wanted to change our constitutional republic forever but was constrained in doing so by the Constitution. His disdain for the greatest political document in human history was clearly displayed in a 2008 interview:

Obama in his interview disparages the Constitution as merely “a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.”

Democrats have been undermining the Constitution for over 100 years as they seek to empower the federal government – and themselves – by reducing their accountability to the people. The Democrats would like our government to be freer to operate on their whims – just like the Chinese government does!

While the Democrats are forced to exploit crises in America to advance their political objectives (like the current economic stimulus bill that included irrelevant provisions that are nevertheless critical Democrat priorities), the Chinese Communist Party has no such constraints. That said, like the authoritarians that they are, the ChiComs are also using the pandemic to implement behavioral changes by the Chinese people, as reported here:

Wearing a mask when having a flu, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and eating from separate dishes in public places… The city of Beijing is mulling regulations to impose restraints on uncivilized behaviors. Those who fail to adhere to the rules will be punished, a move made from the experience of fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak to better safeguard residents’ health.

The draft of the regulations to promote civilized behaviors among the public was submitted to the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress for a second deliberation on Thursday, the Beijing Daily reported.

The draft requested residents to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing in public places and wear a mask when suffering from influenza and other infectious respiratory diseases, while patients with infectious diseases must honestly report their conditions, take the required tests and undergo quarantine and other medical measures.

According to the draft, residents are encouraged to order appropriate amounts of food, use serving chopsticks and spoons to share the dishes and eat them from separate plates.

Those who throw objects from high-rise buildings, drive cars on the wrong side of the road, occupy roads and carry out other uncivilized acts and refuse to correct themselves after education will be severely punished.

In addition, express delivery and takeaway companies can be fined up to 50,000 yuan ($7,036) and get marked on their public credit reports if their personnel run red lights or drive on the wrong side of the road while making deliveries and if the company refuses to correct it.

Is this our future when the Democrats have changed the voting rules in all the states to make it impossible to elect anyone but Democrats to office? Nothing is off-limits in a world in which authoritarians call the shots. There is a big difference between implementing prudent precautions based on lessons-learned and directing ever aspect of life simply because someone in authority thinks it’s a good idea. And there will always be overreaching by authoritarians because they just can’t stop themselves from “doing good” and exerting control over those they rule while squelching dissent.

Reminds me of a few Democrat governors who were pretty lackadaisical about pandemic preparations in their states and then started ratcheting up draconian responses when things started to get out of hand. Take Gavin Newsom, Democrat governor of California, who glories in meddling in the petty affairs of his constituents. He is a natural at it, having been groomed for “Dictator of California” as he tested out the limits of local authoritarianism when he was mayor of San Francisco (2004-2011). Here is a quick reminder from 2009 of his proclivity to tell people what to do – on almost any topic:

So the Prince of The Special City has chosen to pick on the behavior of contributing members to society. There’s his Shape Up SF program with a campaign for a Soda-Free Summer. Newsom has proposed a “sweetened beverage fee” on retailers who sell soft drinks, which would bankroll ads to scold people about the evils of soda. His Democratic Party, which wants to get government out of the bedroom, has moved it to the kitchen.

And to the garbage can, with mandatory recycling. The city banned plastic grocery bags in supermarkets in 2007 and pharmacies in 2008. Newsom’s City Hall also banned bottled-water purchases by city departments. Big government morphs into niggling government.

Newsom boasts that his legislation to ban the sale of cigarettes at pharmacies is “the first of its kind” in the nation. Talk about butting into other people’s business.

Those actions taken while mayor were somewhat similar in nature to the kinds of actions that the ChiComs are implementing in Beijing in that they are aimed at effecting behavioral changes by people. While Newsom has so far taken nuanced steps in responding to the virus in California, the pressure is building from some in California for more drastic action. Under California law, he has the authority to do much more:

Under the authority of the Emergency Services Act, the governor possesses widespread power to respond during a state of emergency such as a pandemic, said Stephen M. Duvernay, senior research fellow at Berkeley Law’s California Constitution Center.

The governor has authority to commandeer private property, including hospitals, medical labs, hotels and motels, and put them under the state’s authority — something Newsom authorized state agencies to do in an executive order issued last week. The governor also has the authority to suspend state regulations.

Newsom has the authority to redirect state funds to help in an emergency, even funds appropriated by the California Legislature for an entirely different purpose.

Along with the power to quarantine during a state of emergency, California law gives state health officials — who answer to the governor — the authority to “quarantine, isolate, inspect, and disinfect persons, animals, houses, rooms, other property, places, cities, or localities, whenever in its judgment the action is necessary to protect or preserve the public health.”

On 4 March, Newsom declared a state of emergency in response to the first death of a California resident infected with the virus. Californians have been under stay at home orders since 19 March, with social distancing guidelines passed to everyone in the state. He has implemented 11 emergency orders aimed at combating the virus in the state, for example:

1. Newsom’s first executive order in response to the coronavirus allowed the state to negotiate with hotels and other part-time housing groups to provide Californians with temporary residences and medical facilities.

2. Newsom directed banks to immediately halt foreclosures and evictions if people can’t afford to pay because of the coronavirus. He also authorized local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners through the end of May.

3. On March 17, Newsom allowed Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKS, Cash Assistance for Immigrants and In-Home Supportive Services recipients to continue receiving program benefits for three months without interruption or a reassessment of their eligibility.

4. School districts, county education offices and charter schools, will continue to receive state funding while they are closed so they can continue paying their employees and offering students the school meals they would have otherwise missed.

5. California overwhelmingly votes by mail. A recent order from Newsom aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus during the voting process will require some key races to only offer mail-in ballots.

That last item will put ballot harvesting on steroids across the entire state, which is a bad omen for November. We should look for more executive actions by Newsom aimed at furthering Democrat political objectives in the state as the crisis continues. Will he start following his authoritarian tendencies to meddle in mundane matter as he did while mayor of San Francisco? Will he emulate the partisan arbitrariness of fellow Democrat governor Ralph Northam of Virginia?

Almost certainly there will be incremental actions taken by Newsom and other Democrat governors that are aimed at behavioral control and peripheral partisan matters. Tyrants – including the Democrat variety – use crises to consolidate their power. It’s what authoritarians everywhere do.

The end.

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy where he received a classical liberal education which serves as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political, military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs topics.
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