Dictator for a Week

 
Cincinnatus

Cincinnatus: Everybody’s favorite dictator. By the way, you also have to wear a toga for a week.

Let’s imagine that — a few years from now — the Ricochetti have mobilized a majority of American citizens who understand that the country is in serious trouble and have little trust in politicians to fix it. The result is the “Cincinnatus Amendment,” giving one citizen – elected by a supermajority of states or the popular vote – extraordinary power for exactly one week in order to restore Constitutional governance. This temporary dictator would control the executive branch and also have the legislative power of Congress. He is not, however, allowed to change the Constitution, remove federal judges, or change the current membership of Congress or Presidency, whose office holders will return to power next week.

And, for some reason, the people chose you to be the temporary dictator! So here you are in the Oval Office: it’s 8 AM on Monday, and you have 168 hours to fix the country! What are you going to do?

Here’s my approach:

First I’ll have some lackeys – dictators have plenty of lackeys, right? – get me some caffeine. Then I’ll tell the lackeys to leave me alone for a bit, while I pray and read a Psalm. And maybe I’ll call up a few friends or some pastors I trust or Ricochet’s Divine Help thread and ask them to mobilize a big prayer effort on my behalf.

Next, I’ll turn to delegating power to people who are smarter and better informed than I am.Here are a few strategies I’ll use (since it’s 8 AM on Monday for me too, I’m only allowing myself enough time to write these all out once before I post this, with maybe just a bit of proofing! But I’ve thought about it a bit already.)

  • I’ll give Rep. Paul Ryan two days to enact all his reforms of the welfare system. That should save the country from our current national debt problem for a generation or so.
  • If Ryan needs more than two days, he can have them. But I’m hoping he’ll finish on time; if he does, I’ll ask him if he can work to move the welfare system to state control; i.e., more in line with the original meaning of the Constitution.
  • I’ll ask Scott Walker to reform federal employment policies a bit: unions, pensions, whatever.
  • I’ll have someone (like John Yoo) recruit the best Originalist judges to fill all empty federal court seats.
  • I’ll give Tom Coburn three days to identify up to 25 federal programs or agencies to eliminate. If he finishes on time, he can kill another 15 agencies.
  • I’ll have Conrad Black identify a few hundred laws and regulations that unfairly punish people who are innocent — or only slightly guilty — and get rid of them. The regulations, I mean, not the people. He can also recommend some victims for pardoning.
  • I’ll ask a few people to clean-up, shrink, or eliminate federal agencies. I may have to toss a few maniacal dictatorial laughs at the Liberals at this point.
  • I’ll have Rick Santorum clean-up and shrink HHS.
  • I’ll give Sen. Rand Paul the Dept. of Education. His job is to cut its powers and budget by 50%. If he prefers to eliminate it, he can have 30 minutes to try to convince me. I’ll try to be fair and objective, but part of me hopes he’ll succeed.
  • I’ll find someone to handle the EPA in the same fashion (Help! I don’t know who!).
  • And to find someone to clean up the federal tax code (Help! I don’t know who!). I think I’ll settle for a thorough clean-up this week, since I’m probably unqualified to decide whether we should just have a flat tax or some other whole new system.

Later this afternoon, I’ll sign a few things:

  • A repeal of Obamacare.
  • An Obamacare replacement with the best the plan Republicans have come up with so far. Phil Gingrey’s finest, or whatever.
  • An agreement with Stephen Harper to build the Keystone Pipeline.
  • A bill opening ANWR to drilling.
  • Another bill loosening some restrictions on drilling, refining, and trading oil. I’ll have to consult someone on what exactly needs to be changed and how. I’ll check with Larry Kudlow; I bet he knows.
  • An upgrade to the Mexico City Policy, promoting it from a mere executive policy to federal law.
  • The elimination of all federal SWAT teams, except for the FBI’s (Does NASA really need a SWAT team?).
  • A ten-year moratorium on new executive branch regulations. “But what about the important regulations?” you may ask. I answer: “Congress can make them! It’s their job, isn’t it?”

And tomorrow morning I’ll meet with Boehner and McConnell. Since the Republicans now controls two thirds of the federal government, I’ll ask them to each list the three things they would most like to do if they could (I’ll probably do those six things before lunch, but I’m not promising anything until I hear what they are).

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll probably pull a Roosevelt add two justices to the Supreme Court, for a total of 11. The two additions will, of course, be solid Originalists.

After all this, I’ll have to turn to someone who seems like he knows everything and ask him what I should do next. Since I’m not sure who that is, I’ll call in Charles Krauthammer; if he doesn’t know everything, maybe he can tell me who does!

Later in the week I might bring in someone like Michael Stokes Paulsen to tell me what power Congress and the President have to effectively nullify some flagrantly unconstitutional SCOTUS decisions, to tell me whether it can be done in two days, and to help me identify a couple of good decisions.

But enough about me. What will you do in your week as dictator?

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  1. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Please note: I am not seriously proposing a Cincinnatus Amendment.  I just want to hear what you would do if you had a week to fix the country, and had that kind of power!

    (And it was fun to list some things I’d like to do.)

    (That said, if the Cincinnatus Amendment is a good idea, I hope some of you will try to convince me of it.)

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The Republic I grew up in is too far gone to ever put the likes of me into that sort of power ;)

    • #2
  3. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Start lining up politicians and government workers and start shooting them. Start at the top and move down till they stop you. With any luck you will get most of the corruptest ones before they stop you. The republic can rebuild with what is left.

    • #3
  4. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Real Jane Galt:Start lining up politicians and government workers and start shooting them.Start at the top and move down till they stop you.With any luck you will get most of the corruptest ones before they stop you.The republic can rebuild with what is left.

    I don’t think the Cincinnatus Amendment gives you that kind of power.

    • #4
  5. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    Augustine:I don’t think the Cincinnatus Amendment gives you that kind of power.

    Never stopped our government from doing things beyond what the constitution and amendments allow.

    • #5
  6. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Jordan Wiegand:

    Augustine:I don’t think the Cincinnatus Amendment gives you that kind of power.

    Never stopped our government from doing things beyond what the constitution and amendments allow.

    Well, if our Cincinnatus can’t stick to the Constitution, there’s no point in the Cincinnatus Amendment.

    • #6
  7. Matede Inactive
    Matede
    @MateDe

    why bother putting anyone in charge of the Dept of Ed, HHS, and EPA? Just eliminate them, along with any other unconstitutional federal department that makes up the alphabet soup of DC.

    Also one thing I would do is to put some of the federal departments that we do need to keep, and put them in some remote part of Montana or Alaska. That way we can weed out the cosmopolitan elitist types.

    • #7
  8. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    A week? Didn’t Roman dictators get a year long term or until the crisis ends, whichever comes first?

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @SoDakBoy

    Great list!

    I would add that regulatory agencies will have no authority to write regulations and rules.  Henceforth, they shall only have the power to enforce and monitor compliance.  Only people who have to face the voters shall have the power to create new laws.

    • #9
  10. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mate De:why bother putting anyone in charge of the Dept of Ed, HHS, and EPA? Just eliminate them, along with any other unconstitutional federal department that makes up the alphabet soup of DC.

    Also one thing I would do is to put some of the federal departments that we do need to keep, and put them in some remote part of Montana or Alaska. That way we can weed out the cosmopolitan elitist types.

    Simply eliminating might be best, but I really don’t know.  So I’m happy to reduce and clean up, giving the folks with the job the chance to convince me to just eliminate.

    If they really need to be eliminated, maybe we need someone wiser than I to be the temporary dictator.

    • #10
  11. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Fred Cole:A week? Didn’t Roman dictators get a year long term or until the crisis ends, whichever comes first?

    Probably.  A question for a better historian than I.

    One reason for my thinking it should be so short is just that I really, really, really don’t trust any human beings with that kind of power–except the three who are sinless, but I don’t think Jesus or Elijah or Enoch is available to be the American dictator right now.

    Another reason is it seems like, with transportation so fast and communication so amazingly fast today, you really don’t need a lot of time to make changes.  I could well be wrong.

    • #11
  12. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    SoDakBoy:Great list!

    I would add that regulatory agencies will have no authority to write regulations and rules. Henceforth, they shall only have the power to enforce and monitor compliance. Only people who have to face the voters shall have the power to create new laws.

    Thanks!  That’s a good rule.

    It seems that this change, as well as my ten-year moratorium, are pretty vulnerable.  They are either executive policy, easily canceled by the President next week, or legislation–almost as easily overruled by Congress.

    Making them legislation makes them a bit stronger, but Congress has been ceding that power to the executive branch for ages.  How long would it take them to fall back into their old ways?

    • #12
  13. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Augustine:

    Jordan Wiegand:

    Augustine:I don’t think the Cincinnatus Amendment gives you that kind of power.

    Never stopped our government from doing things beyond what the constitution and amendments allow.

    Well, if our Cincinnatus can’t stick to the Constitution, there’s no point in the Cincinnatus Amendment.

    I suppose there’s another scenario worth talking about: You’re the dictator for a week with absolute power, and the Constitution itself is suspended.

    I wouldn’t shoot anyone myself in this scenario.  But you can be sure a few flagrant flouters of the Constitution would be out of their jobs as judges.

    • #13
  14. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    There are a couple of counter arguments to that.
    First is that no man can be trusted like that. That’s the problem with dictatorships.
    Second, despite rapid communications, haste still makes waste. It would be hard to wind things down in a week with our substantial planning.
    And third, a week isn’t long enough to fix things. If I wanted to end a major program (or a minor one for that matter), I couldn’t just flick a switch. There has to be a transition program.

    • #14
  15. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Fred Cole:There are a couple of counter arguments to that. First is that no man can be trusted like that. That’s the problem with dictatorships.

    Indeed.  But my brain automatically goes to the thought Neither can we trust Congress or the President, and from there to thoughts like But we really can trust a real Cincinnatus and If we could just get the right dictator, this would work!

    But then my brain remembers that We can’t trust the American people, who elect Congress and the President, to pick the right dictator.

    Then, for a moment, I want to scream.  The moment passes.  I give up.  I post a comment and go look for tea to drink or work to do.

    Second, despite rapid communications, haste still makes waste. It would be hard to wind things down in a week with our substantial planning. And third, a week isn’t long enough to fix things.If I wanted to end a major program (or a minor one for that matter), I couldn’t just flick a switch. There has to be a transition program.

    Ok, so maybe the Cincinnatus Amendment needs to give the Dictator more time.  How much time would you think is enough, Fred?

    • #15
  16. Matede Inactive
    Matede
    @MateDe

    Augustine:

    Mate De:why bother putting anyone in charge of the Dept of Ed, HHS, and EPA? Just eliminate them, along with any other unconstitutional federal department that makes up the alphabet soup of DC.

    Also one thing I would do is to put some of the federal departments that we do need to keep, and put them in some remote part of Montana or Alaska. That way we can weed out the cosmopolitan elitist types.

    Simply eliminating might be best, but I really don’t know. So I’m happy to reduce and clean up, giving the folks with the job the chance to convince me to just eliminate.

    If they really need to be eliminated, maybe we need someone wiser than I to be the temporary dictator.

    You could argue, eliminate them then if after 5 years we see that there may be a need for them we can always reestablish them (with a much smaller budget and many, many restrictions on growth).

    • #16
  17. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mate De:

    Augustine:

    Mate De:why bother putting anyone in charge of the Dept of Ed, HHS, and EPA? Just eliminate them, along with any other unconstitutional federal department that makes up the alphabet soup of DC.

    Also one thing I would do is to put some of the federal departments that we do need to keep, and put them in some remote part of Montana or Alaska. That way we can weed out the cosmopolitan elitist types.

    Simply eliminating might be best, but I really don’t know. So I’m happy to reduce and clean up, giving the folks with the job the chance to convince me to just eliminate.

    If they really need to be eliminated, maybe we need someone wiser than I to be the temporary dictator.

    You could argue, eliminate them then if after 5 years we see that there may be a need for them we can always reestablish them (with a much smaller budget and many, many restrictions on growth).

    Yeah, you might be right about that.  It’s easier, after all, to reinstate them later if they’re actually important than it is to get rid of them later if they actually aren’t.

    So maybe if I’m dictator for a week I’ll just get rid of several big agencies.  But the transition programs will be a bigger deal.

    • #17
  18. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    @augustine#4: you said dictator. Dictators have that type of power.

    • #18
  19. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Fred Cole:a week isn’t long enough to fix things.

    Fred, You Have More Time Than You Think.

    • #19
  20. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Augustine,

    Do even dictators have that much control over entrenched bureaucracies?

    Asking for a friend.

    • #20
  21. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Real Jane Galt:@augustine#4:you said dictator.Dictators have that type of power.

    According to dictionary.com’s number 1, granted.  But I’m thinking more of number 2:

    (in ancient Rome) a person invested with supreme authority during a crisis, the regular magistracy being subordinated to him until the crisis was met.

    Unless “supreme authority” necessarily means “unlimited power,” the Cincinnatus Amendment would have a dictator whose authority is limited by the Constitution.

    If it does mean that, then I’m using the word “dictator” improperly, and I need a new term.  “Super-President” sounds pretty ridiculous, but it’s the best I have at the moment.

    • #21
  22. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:Augustine,

    Do even dictators have that much control over entrenched bureaucracies?

    Asking for a friend.

    Maybe not.

    It’s a good thing I’m not seriously recommending a Cincinnatus amendment!  There are a lot of concerns with this idea.

    (I was hoping someone would argue for it.  That would have been fun.  No one so far!)

    • #22
  23. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    First, I would eliminate the DH.  I would put Troy Senik in charge of this change as punishment for being on the wrong side of this issue.  Mollie Hemingway will be placed in a bell tower to ensure Troy follows through with his duties.

    Second, in order to keep Mollie in her place I will order EJ Hill to photoshop out all April MLB results, putting the Cardinals rightfully in second place.

    When he’s done he gets a paint brush and must paint downtown Cincinnati black and gold.  After all, I’m Cincinnatus.

    Third, I would put Ricochet member MBF in charge of rewriting the MLB schedule to strike all Brewers games from the Pirates schedule.

    Finally, I would buy all Ricochet Cubs fans a beer.  I don’t see any reason to worry about the Cubs.

    • #23
  24. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Augustine:Ok, so maybe the Cincinnatus Amendment needs to give the Dictator more time. How much time would you think is enough, Fred?

    Well, zero.  Dictators are a horrible idea.

    The Romans appointed dictators when there were literally barbarians at the gates.  We don’t have that system.

    • #24
  25. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Fred Cole:

    Augustine:Ok, so maybe the Cincinnatus Amendment needs to give the Dictator more time. How much time would you think is enough, Fred?

    Well, zero. Dictators are a horrible idea.

    The Romans appointed dictators when there were literally barbarians at the gates. We don’t have that system.

    More resistance for a Cincinnatus Amendment!  Lucky for me I’m not seriously suggesting a Cincinnatus Amendment.

    (I keep hoping someone will on this thread; it could be interesting.)

    • #25
  26. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Of course, everyone here is for the idea because you stipulate that “you” get to be dictator. Even Fred would like to be dictator for a week. Admit it, man!

    I, however, am against any of you being dictator.

    • #26
  27. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Casey:Of course, everyone here is for the idea because you stipulate that “you” get to be dictator. Even Fred would like to be dictator for a week. Admit it, man!

    I’d have to be presented with it in real life to know for sure, but I’d like to think I could refuse.  I have no desire to lord over other men.  If given the power, I’d use it to destroy power.

    • #27
  28. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Casey:Of course, everyone here is for the idea because you stipulate that “you” get to be dictator. Even Fred would like to be dictator for a week. Admit it, man!

    I, however, am against any of you being dictator.

    I dunno.  I think I might be able to support any of you Ricocheti as temporary dictator.  It can’t be much worse than what we have now, can it?  And it could be a whole lot better.

    • #28
  29. Augustine Member
    Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Fred Cole:

    Casey:Of course, everyone here is for the idea because you stipulate that “you” get to be dictator. Even Fred would like to be dictator for a week. Admit it, man!

    I’d have to be presented with it in real life to know for sure, but I’d like to think I could refuse. I have no desire to lord over other men. If given the power, I’d use it to destroy power.

    That is precisely the point of the Cincinnatus Amendment.

    • #29
  30. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Augustine:

    Fred Cole:

    Casey:Of course, everyone here is for the idea because you stipulate that “you” get to be dictator. Even Fred would like to be dictator for a week. Admit it, man!

    I’d have to be presented with it in real life to know for sure, but I’d like to think I could refuse. I have no desire to lord over other men. If given the power, I’d use it to destroy power.

    That is precisely the point of the Cincinnatus Amendment.

    And if you don’t take the power someone else will.   Come to the dark side….

    • #30
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