by Jacob G. Hornberger
The year before a presidential election is a period of great euphoria for the American people, for this is the period of time when presidential candidates are extremely nice to the American people.
And why not? They’re seeking votes. They’re seeking to be elected or reelected. They have to be nice.
This is the time when presidential candidates promise tax cuts and increases in welfare benefits. They promise to create jobs. They assure us that they’re going to bring prosperity. Community grants. Educational assistance. Tax code reform. Hope. Change. Restore civil liberties. Keep the people safe and secure. Whatever makes people happy.
The candidates smile at people. They shake their hands. They mingle with the common folk.
What a wonderful, euphoric time for the American people. This is when the people feel like they’re in charge — like they’re the masters and the presidential candidates are the servants.
And then comes Election Day. Reality sets back in. The president is boss once again. The people are the servants.
For the next three years, the president doesn’t have to be nice to anyone, except those bigwigs to whom he feels beholden. He can break all those promises with impunity.
He can get Congress to raise taxes and cut welfare benefits. He can keep the tax code the same. He can immunize federal officials for criminal acts conducted against the citizens. He can violate people’s privacy and infringe on their liberties. When campaign time comes around again in three years, everyone would have forgotten anyway.
He can crack down in the war on drugs, prosecuting drug users, drug addicts, and drug sellers with a vengeance and seeking maximum jail sentences for all of them. And he can ramp up the drug war in other countries as well, especially with the use of the army and the CIA.
Most important, the president can now exercise the wide range of totalitarian powers that the president now wields. He can order that Americans be rounded up and transported to concentration camps or military prisons, where they can be tortured and held for the rest of their lives. He can order his military and intelligence subordinates to sneak into people’s homes and businesses and peek into their private affairs. He can order the assassination of American citizens.
He can do the same to foreigners. He can order his forces to enter any country on earth to kidnap people and rendition them to some friendly totalitarian regime for the purpose of torture. Or he can order that they be carted away to the gulag at Guantanamo Bay.
He can sanction and embargo any nation he wishes for whatever reason he wishes, including maneuvering another nation into going to war against the United States. He can freeze bank accounts and other assets of any foreign regime. Indeed, he can order his military and intelligence forces to invade and occupy any nation on earth, without a congressional declaration of war. Or he can simply order them to assassinate a foreign official or take other steps to effect regime change in foreign countries.
And make no mistake about it: the president’s military and intelligence forces will follow whatever orders he issues, especially when he tells them that “national security” is at stake and that they’re protecting our rights and freedoms.
For the three years after the election, it’s clear that the president is the master and the American citizenry are the servants. And then the process is ostensibly reversed during the pre-election year, with the presidential candidates once again catering to the citizenry, being nice to them, and pandering for their votes.
People should enjoy the euphoria now because on Election Day next November, everything returns to normal.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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