Presidential Power and the Rise of American Monarchy: Q&A with Author Frank Buckley

"America is dropping like a stone in rankings of freedom. As power accumulates in one person, expect that to continue," says Frank Buckley, George Mason University law professor and author of the new book, The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America.

Buckley sat down with Reason TV's Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss how the U.S. presidency has evolved into what he calls "something like an elective monarch." He says that this is not what the framers of the Constitution had intended, nor did they conceive of the modern version of the separation of powers.

"A parliamentary regime was more or less what the framers wanted...as far as the separation of powers is concerned," says Buckley "instead of a device to constrain a president, it's one which immunizes him from criticism by Congress."

About 5:30 minutes.

Produced by Tracy Oppenheimer. Camera by Josh Swain and Amanda Winkler.

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  • Sevo||

    "Why America is 'Dropping Like a Stone' in Rankings of Freedom"

    He certainly can't take all the credit, but there's this lying bastard in the WH who has no idea what the Constitution says and does his best to ignore it.

  • New Normal||

    The Constitutional Scholar™ in the White House would disagree.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    When you get to be President you can change all that. Right?

  • stefan2563||

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  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    Hi there ass wipe. I just posted a comment. I will be waiting for your usual bullshit rebuttal. Thought I would post this comment to you in advance, so I would not have to waste my time responding to your ignorant horses hit.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    Still waiting for your comments, dick wad.

  • JPyrate||

    This must be the last post then.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    You know better than that, don't you dip shit?

  • JPyrate||

    Now this must be the last one. =)

  • On The Random, Mandelbrot||

    Nope.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    JPyrate,

    Wrong! Tough shit for you. Too bad. Guess you will just have to suck it up. Eh?

  • Mauser||

    I'm disappointed, I wanted to see a good Sevo OTRTM fight.....

  • DanD||

    Dr. Buckley says that the problem is that power accumulates in "one person." That's a little off the mark, in my opinion. It's more that it's accumulating in one office. Increasingly, there is a single branch of government that can make rules at their leisure. Even worse, they can enforce them--or not--at their leisure. Yes, they're operating under the ideological umbrella of a single person, but they're far more damaging and pervasive in aggregate than that one person could be on his own.

    Otherwise I totally agree. Great piece!

  • Aloysious||

    Why America is 'Dropping Like a Stone' in Rankings of Freedom

    ??

    Because we keep electing progressives?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Good Grief No. Because we have a monopoly coercive government with police powers. Every bureaucracy, by its nature, expands as much as possible, due to the simple fact that all jobs have spare time, otherwise they would be overworked and require hiring more bureaucrats. Bureaucrats always are on the lookout for new ways to look busy in their spare time.

    Competition winnows out the most inefficient bureaucracies, providing help reminders to the remaining. Government, having no competition, never has to become more efficient, and having coercive police powers makes it easier to save face than correct problems.

    Thus grows government.

    The more it does, the more coverup required when things go south, requiring more coverup.

    Thus shrinks freedom.

  • Mike M.||

    This. The stone isn't "dropping"; it's being pulled down to the sea floor by the bottom-feeding scum.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    So who in the fuck are we to elect who will save our fucking ass freedoms?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Don't forget our pot and Mexican freedoms.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    So the fucking Bush/Cheney regime didn't do anything to restrict our freedoms?

  • On The Random, Mandelbrot||

    Personally, I think EVERY politician has in mind to restrict someones' freedoms. Thus the concept of limited government. I think it's about time we give it a real try!

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    How do you define "limited government"? Fifty fucking littler countries called states? And when the fucking Rednecks revolted and formed the Confederacy, they soon learned that they would have to have strong central government if they were to survive. That's a fucking fact, in light of the fact that when they broke off, everyone from down south showed up in different uniforms, and even with their own separate state fucking money. DEFINE LIMITED GOVERNMENT instead of drooling a shit chute of ideology.

  • Drake||

    Certainly part of it. Progressives attack the restraints our Constitution places on politicians with relish. Mainstream Republicans are content to slowly chip away at them.

    We are becoming more Democratic - not good since democracies tend to end horribly.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    This "mini-movie" is very professionally done, very informative. Nice piece of work. It is also high in propaganda content, since libertarians are often pawns of the republican ideological agenda, perhaps unwittingly.

    Be that as it may, a parliamentary regime (interesting words) is exactly what the framers (who have since become gods) did NOT want. It is the British that wanted a Parliamentary "regime", and had the American Colonists not revolved again jolly old King George III (who was already a Constitutional Monarch), that is exactly what we would have had, and what Canada has to some extent.

    In any event, the "threat" any U.S. President represents is highly exaggerated here. The U.S. President is hardly immune from Congress. If anything, he is their captive, as well as a "prisoner" of media opinion. Excellent "mini-movie: with great propaganda content. If we lose our freedoms it won't be because of the President, but because the checks and balances the framers of our democratic republic set up, does not work anymore, because of massive doses of corruption and stupidity.

  • On The Random, Mandelbrot||

    Ok. In order:

    "-since libertarians are often pawns of the republican ideological agenda,-"
    Oh, (small g) god, Please, make him stop. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying!

    Ah, but they did 'revolve'. And the failings of a parliamentary system were one of the main reasons. Elites in the English system had far more influence than ' the peoples house'. Hmmm. Crony politics?

    Really! There we go again with the jokes!

    "The U.S. President is hardly immune from Congress. If anything, he is their captive, as well as a "prisoner" of media opinion."

    A prisoner of media opinion.

    Ok, if you're going to go with that; fair game.

    Lickspittles lining up to race to endorsement of any casual utterance from the royal family? Fervent belief in and editorial support of the statements made by an IRS official contradicting the sworn testimony of, um, the previous IRS official? The 'fourth estate' long ago failed in it's duties to the people.

    Can't argue with the corruption and stupidity.So why do we need to change the system of checks and balances? Why not eliminate the incentives for 'corruption and stupidity'?

    Would you be as critical towards a Mikey Moore film?

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Random ……...,

    You do real well at quoting what people say, and then writing a bunch of childish bullshit in the "I wanna be an intellectual" style. Read my comment again. What did I say?

    In any event, the subject of the Presidents of The United States having too much power has been dealt with before by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in "THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY" (1973). It only goes up to Nixon, but had it continued to the present, Schlesinger's conclusions would have probably been the same, including Obama.

    Perhaps some of the fucking morons who post on this site would do a service to themselves by reading what Mr. Schlesinger had to say on this subject over 40 years ago. However, I doubt if many of them have ever heard of the man.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Just for your information ON THE RANDOM, I can't stand "Mickey Moore". Why do you automatically think that I would not be critical of him? I have watched his stuff, and he is a highly paid propagandist. However, his being left does NOT excuse the same horse shit dished out by the fucking asshole right wing propagandist pimps.

  • ant1sthenes||

    "The U.S. President is hardly immune from Congress. If anything, he is their captive, as well as a "prisoner" of media opinion."

    Well, under law, yes. But if a president has no inherent respect for the law, and knows that Congress is too divided and wary of using the impeachment process to mount a significant challenge, and his best bud and loyal toady controls the DOJ preventing any sort of criminal investigation of his administration, and the media have trapped themselves by creating a personality cult for the guy, he's only a prisoner of his own flaws.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    I take it you don't like Obama. Ha! So, who is your choice for the next President of The United States of America. Has to be someone who won't try to abuse his/her power and all that of course. HA!

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Some corrections to typos, re my comments. revolved again should read REVOLTED AGAINST. what Canada has should read WHAT CANADA BECAME.

  • Pulseguy||

    I think the imperial presidency is nowhere near as dangerous as an ideological bureaucracy. Back in the late 60s when we boomers were radical, (before we made some money), it was noted that the left would never, ever win political power in the way it wanted to. I can recall the articles and exhortations to take the other aspects of society, the teachers unions, the universities, nurses unions, and the bureaucracy. They did it. When I was a kid a bureaucrat was scrupulously neutral. It was considered ethical. To the point where a civil servant would not put an election sign on their lawn.

    It is the bureaucracy that is beating us down, I think more so than the presidency.

  • Pulseguy||

    I'm not certain the writer understands what a parliamentary system is. The framers did not want a parliament. If they had, they would have written one.

    In a parliamentary system the Prime Minister has almost unchecked power for the four or five years he is in power.

    In Canada, the PM has powers a US prez could only dream of. The framers seemed to want something with divided powers.

    If anything, they might have wanted Congress to rule, and the President to administer the laws Congress wrote. That would make more sense to me. As if the Board of Directors was Congress, and the hired CEO was the President.

  • Kure'i||

    I think it's more that the citizenry is lazy, uninformed, and easily manipulated, more than anything else.

    The vast majority of the populace is very ignorant about almost every political issue, and to the extent that it is aware at all, basically echoes the mass media's general narrative, with no strong feeling behind it.

    Those who are informed tend to be partisan and relentless defend whatever overreach happens when it is their guy doing it.

    And the political class is aware of all this, and does as much as it can without much fear.

    At this point, I think Obama could pretty much do anything he wants, regardless of the legality, and any opposition will be demonized/ridiculed by the media. The general populace will just dismiss it all as political infighting, and ignore it.

  • Kure'i||

    *relentlessly.

    I should learn to proofread.

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