Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed that Congress “serves at the pleasure of the President.” This is false. Members of Congress and the Senate serve at the pleasure of their constituents.
What makes America’s Congress different than, let’s say, Russia’s Duma, is that Congress is an independent and co-equal branch of government with the Presidency and the Supreme Court. This setup, created by the Founders of the U.S. Constitution, was intended to disperse power among separate and competing legal institutions.
America did not fight its War of Independence to create a new dictatorship or monarchy (the 18th century British Crown was actually a relatively progressive constitutional monarchy), though some did want George Washington to be a King. The United States was created as a political experiment in self-government after much deliberation and historical review. America’s Founding Fathers aimed to prevent autocracy from ever taking root in this Republic as it had in nearly all others. The U.S. Constitution was devised to deny absolute power to any one branch, especially to any one person.
Against this historical backdrop, many Republicans seem to be oddly inclined to political authoritarianism, especially those Republicans who supported Donald Trump. While racism and sexism were strongly linked to support for Trump, so was support for authoritarianism. One study found that there was a strong relationship between those who supported authoritarian beliefs and their support for Donald Trump. A recent poll found that 1/3 of Republicans believe freedom of the press did more harm than good.
Now, Mr. McCarthy’s statement is hardly unique. Just recently, Republican Todd Yoho of Florida essentially said the same thing. The desire for an all-powerful ruler or strongman is distinctly unamerican and for a party that claims to be dedicated to “freedom”, it’s also absurd.
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