Presidents, Hegemony and Law
whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 27 09:24:23 PST 2006
Forgive me for being somewhat unclear. The fact that the Roosevelt Congress exercised its hegemony by statutes and the Bush Congress exercises its hegemony by deference is irrelevant to the issue of: (1) is the hegemonic desire constitutional; and (2) what is the practical difference of this form of rule versus a parliamentary system?
For the Roosevelt hegemony to be legal, you had to turn a constitutional sentence into poetry. For the Bush hegemony, you don't have to do that.
As to the issue about Congressional action versus omission, it would be quite irrational for Congressional Republicans to enact statutes to allow Bush to go ahead with spying, if in fact their goal is to make the executive be the reservoir of such authority. Indeed, it would be blatantly contradictory.
Hence, the issue here is that both the great depression and 9/11 shocked the political system. One shocked it into a domestic policy consensus that used statutory legalism as its primary style; the other shocked the system into a foreign policy consensus that used executive deference as its primary style. The former had less support in the textual sentences of Constitution than the latter. That is why academics don't like the rule of law when it comes to New Deal-type programs, and love it when it comes to opposing the Bush policies (a little secret, incidentally, that I don't think the students are told enough).
You will note that when hegemony emerges in Congress, the minority party finds itself in quite a pickle. It must choose to either fight the hegemonic tendency with pre-hegemonic solutions -- basically trying to reinsert the old paradigm -- or adapt to the new world. Democrats are having a real problem with this one right now. They want to reassert the political drama that shaped their social learning -- Nixon and the cold war -- as the primary way to view these things. If they are smart, they will stop trying to pretend that 9/11 did not change the world. They will stop giving lipservice to the problem. Instead, they will offer voters a BETTER product -- one that allows for tough anti-terror powers (presidential spying, ultimate success in Iraq), but also gives people better protections against potential abuses and allows the public some civil redress for mistakes and harassment that will inevitably occur under the program.
Smart people will see that you can fashion a policy that allows for spying AND prevents against Nixon at the same time. For it to happen, it requires that Democrats see the world properly.
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Penn State University
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