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Frank Buckley on Imperial Presidents
Michael Ramsey

In USA Today, Frank Buckley (George Mason Law School): King Obama our latest monarch: Separation of powers prevents Congress from reining in imperial presidents.  From the introduction:

Unlike real kings, American presidents are elected, but they nevertheless enjoy powers a king would envy. George Mason, who declined to sign our Constitution in 1787, predicted this. He said U.S. presidents would be "elected monarchs."

And just as Mason predicted, we're seeing something like monarchical government under President Obama. In truth, however, the expansion of presidential power has been going on in one way or another under most of the presidents who came before. Obama has simply exploited the opportunities  implicit in his office. The Framers thought they had erected a wall against rule by a king, but Obama found cracks in the wall, cracks with the fingerprints of presidents such as Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. If it's blame you're looking for, blame presidential government, not Obama.

Professor Buckley makes the argument at greater length in his new book The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America (Encounter Books 2014).  Here is the book description from Amazon:

This remarkable new book shatters just about every myth surrounding American government, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers, and offers the clearest warning about the alarming rise of one-man rule in the age of Obama.

Most Americans believe that this country uniquely protects liberty, that it does so because of its Constitution, and that for this our thanks must go to the Founders, at their Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

F. H. Buckley’s book debunks all these myths. America isn’t the freest country around, according to the think tanks that study these things. And it’s not the Constitution that made it free, since parliamentary regimes are generally freer than presidential ones. Finally, what we think of as the Constitution, with its separation of powers, was not what the Founders had in mind. What they expected was a country in which Congress would dominate the government, and in which the president would play a much smaller role.

Sadly, that’s not the government we have today. What we have instead is what Buckley calls Crown government: the rule of an all-powerful president. The country began in a revolt against one king, and today we see the dawn of a new kind of monarchy. What we have is what Founder George Mason called an “elective monarchy,” which he thought would be worse than the real thing.

Much of this is irreversible. Constitutional amendments to redress the balance of power are extremely unlikely, and most Americans seem to have accepted, and even welcomed, Crown government. The way back lies through Congress, and Buckley suggests feasible reforms that it might adopt, to regain the authority and respect it has squandered.

(Also blurbs from an all-star line-up: Gordon Wood, Philip Hamburger, Sanford Levinson, Joseph Ellis and Christopher DeMuth).

Via Ilya Somin, who has a strong response: Does separation of powers lead to a monarchical presidency?, among other things pointing out

a crucial advantage of separation of powers systems in curbing executive abuses: divided government. When, as is often the case, the legislature is controlled by a different party than the president, it has strong incentives to investigate and curb presidential abuses. Divided government led to the fall of Richard Nixon. When faced with a hostile Congress in more recent years, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were forced to exercise greater restraint than before.