A Commission (a “Panel,” if You Will)… That’s the Ticket!
Thomas Sowell puts it pretty starkly:
The appointment of White House “czars” to make policy across a wide spectrum of issues — unknown people who get around the Constitution’s requirement of Senate confirmation for cabinet members — is yet another sign of the mindset that sees the fundamental laws and values of this country as just something to get around, in order to impose the will of an arrogant elite.
The problem is that it isn’t just the political elite who lack a sufficient understanding of the real value of democratic processes. Sowell blames “dumbed-down education in schools and colleges that have become indoctrination centers for the visions of the Left,” although the reference to political direction might obscure the essence of the poorly formed vision — namely, that it is possible for people to figure out and design broad social programs that will improve life for all if they’re only given the power to implement them. And so, we get this disappointing, but not surprising, editorial from the Providence Journal:
Neither Congress nor the Obama administration (nor that of George W. Bush) has shown the gumption to act honestly to confront these costs. Perhaps commissions will give them adequate cover to take on the “special-interest groups.” (We’re all de-facto members of several such groups; one man’s pork is another man’s national treasure.) …
So a bipartisan congressional committee should pick the members of these commissions and give them as much power as possible. Such panels would probably feel compelled to recommend higher taxes and sharp cuts in some programs.
In the Projo’s telling, such a plan is all up-side: giving an unelected panel as much power as possible (to break some eggs) with adequate immunity to push elected representatives to do that which the public does not want. That attitude is a recipe for totalitarianism and a collapsed nation, but it’s frighteningly pervasive. Everybody, after all, has a vision that would clearly work… if only it could be forced on the nation.
As if to prove its own incoherence, the editorial shifts gears to complaints that people are heeding ideological sympathizers whom they trust to specialize in sensing political winds, rather than giving rein to Congressional “staffers specializing in the subject at hand” as they craft complex legislation. The essay ends thus:
Representative democracy is a terrible system, but, as Churchill noted, better than all the others.
One might get the erroneous impression that the editorial writers are supporters of representative democracy, even after they’d spent a few hundred words advocating for rule by unelected groups and behind the scenes staff experts.