Interview with Dr. Ivan Eland
Dr. Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and Director of the Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty. He is author of War and the Rogue Presidency: Restoring the Republic after Congressional Failure.
The Office of the President of the U.S. isn’t what it used to be—it has morphed into an overgrown beast. So says presidential scholar Ivan Eland in his landmark new book War and the Rogue Presidency: Restoring the Republic after Congressional Failure.
The presidency no longer simply enforces the laws passed by Congress but literally dominates American political life. Its vast bureaucracy is flush with cash and wields powers never authorized by the Framers. But who do we have to thank for this distortion of the Constitution? Congress.
The presidency, says Eland, isn’t inherently imperial. It’s contingently imperial. Particularly when wars loom and Congress refuses to forestall our engagement in them—with inevitable consequences. Armed conflict bloats armies and emboldens the commanders-in-chief who wield them. Presidents, for instance, now unilaterally start wars and kill Americans (and others) overseas without due process.
But wars also lead to massive domestic government interference. Income tax, estate tax, gas taxes, the IRS, public housing, rent control, inflationary money printing, financial bailouts—all have their origins in wartime
The solution is clear. Congress, says Eland, simply must refuse to fund the undeclared wars presidents seem bent on waging. Yet to do that Congress must first implement reforms detailed in this book: weaken the committee structure; eliminate the seniority system, outlaw covert destabilization of foreign governments, and back federal courts seeking to limit the national security state—and many more.
In sum, liberals, conservatives, independents—anybody concerned for personal liberties and good governance—should read this pathbreaking book and grapple with its implications. For they are wide-ranging and entail staggering consequences for a free people.
Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and Director of the Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty. He is author of War and the Rogue Presidency: Restoring the Republic after Congressional Failure.