Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Michael Uhlmann: The Administrative State and Its Discontents

Michael Uhlmann: The Administrative State and Its Discontents


What we call the administrative state begins
with a philosophical critique of the American founding, which really had three prongs to
it, uh, led by this group of people we have come to call the progressives. The critique was that nature, in the sense
of natural rights, imposed undue restrictions on the ability of the Constitution to do what
they believed people wanted it to do. That history, capital H, had moved on, that
the American Founders were unduly dedicated to the idea of nature, of natural rights,
and limited government. But that government, in fact, was an evolutionary
kind of thing that needed to adapt to particular circumstances. The spiritual godfather in America of that
indictment was Woodrow Wilson, Professor Woodrow Wilson. Long before he entered politics, uh, wrote
a series of- of essays and books, specifically attacking the American Founders and the separation
of powers in particular. The idea was that separation of powers imposed
very severe constraints as to what the government might do. My concern, which I mentioned at the panel,
is that we have now, partly for accidental reasons, created a presidential election system
and with for all intents and purposes, we have a plebiscitary presidency. That is to say, he is selected by a primary
system and enjoys a large degree of popular support. We now combine that with the powers of a very
large administrative state over which a president has a good deal of discretionary authority. You put together the idea of a- of a plebiscitary
president with lots of bureaucratic, and potentially arbitrary, power and you have a recipe for
democratic demagoguery. And that, I think, is the central threat facing
the American constitutional system at the moment, and it’s going to require all three
branches to undo that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *