Angelo Codevilla responds to Conor Friedersdorf’s rebuttal to the idea that “we’ve stepped over the threshold of a revolution.” I wrote/excerpted some of Codevilla’s thinking because it syncs with some of my own recent experiences. Toward the close of his response, Codevilla cites as evidence for his thesis a point which I haven’t seen anyone else make so explicitly, and it really seems important to underscore:
Friedersdorf mocks my contention that presidents and bipartisan majorities’ practice of dispensing with recorded votes on all major items of government expenditure, now normal, is the most significant negation of republican practice and principle in the Republic’s history. I might have said: “in the history of constitutional government.” It used to be common knowledge that Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, which requires appropriation by law of any and all expenditures, is neither more nor less than the essence of the Magna Carta—the principle that the government has no right to do anything unless the governed approve by giving their own money to enable the government to do it. The government’s mere existence does not give it any right to do anything. No republican principle is more fundamental. But now, ignorance having smothered concern for consequences, ravenous pursuit of partisan agendas has led our ruling class to roll all government expenditures into one bill determining whether or not the government will be shut down. Any elected official or voter who objects is an anarchist. But if you assent to a complex of provisions that you cannot possibly grasp and which, at any rate, consist largely of open-ended grants of power, then you agree that those in power may do whatever they want. Friedersdorf writes that this is the way it’s always been.
“[O]ur ruling class [rolls] all government expenditures into one bill determining whether or not the government will be shut down. Any elected official or voter who objects is an anarchist.”
“The government’s mere existence does not give it any right to do anything.”