Bannon Vindicates John Marini

Even before Michael Anton (writing as Publius Decius Mus) published the most famous essay of the 2016 campaign season, “The Flight 93 Election,”—indeed, even before Donald Trump was considered a serious presidential contender—John Marini was formulating the arguments that would culminate in what remains the most powerful and the best affirmative case for Trump.

Marini’s essay, “Donald Trump and the American Crisis” focused on the ways in which the modern administrative state has worked to subvert and circumvent the sovereignty of the American people by torturing the concept of consent of the governed and blurring all plausible lines between that consent and the general operations of our government.

The massive and out-of-control bureaucracy that many conservatives are happy to criticize as “inefficient” or “ridiculous” or “picayune” is, in fact, a far more serious problem than most of them appear to realize. And it’s bigger, even, than a question of constitutionalism. Marini’s scholarship over several decades has pioneered the philosophical argument against the modern administrative state on the grounds of its political illegitimacy and its injustice.

In his essay last summer, Marini showed he understood what Trump appears to have recognized in the American people. Their plaintive cries of disgust with their government and with conventional politicians were in reaction to these fundamental facts: The people were being ignored and, what’s more, they were awakening to it.

Marini saw in Trump a politician who, more than any of the other conventional candidates, was willing to consider what the people were saying and, in so doing, possibly consider what justice there was to their anger. Given that that anger was legitimate, it seemed reasonable to believe that self-interest and Trump’s willingness to listen to the people (if not some high-toned philosophical reflection) might lead to the correct answers for helping to right this situation.

Marini argued that by attempting to restore political questions to the political realm and reminding Americans of their sovereignty, Trump would have gone a long way toward dismantling the administrative state and restoring the American constitutional order and rule of law.

Friendly critics of this view called Marini’s thesis “wishing” rather than thinking. They suggested that Marini and those who supported his argument were reading something into Trump that wasn’t there but they wished was there. Unfriendly critics echoed the Left and were indignant, insisting that Trump’s brusque manners and unconventional methods hinted at an authoritarian streak.

Now comes this:

Steve Bannon’s words at CPAC yesterday could not have been more clear:

the way the progressive Left runs, is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just gonna put in some sort of regulation in—in an agency.

That’s all gonna be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.

There it is. They really do mean to “deconstruct the administrative state.” Marini called it. I just reported it and believed it. Now it’s up to Americans of goodwill—including friendly critics—to help ensure that they can get it done.

A word of caution, though, for those just waking up to the fact that Trump is serious in wanting to be enlisted in this fight against the administrative state: there won’t be any doing this if we mean to do it with pure gentility.

If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken,” Bannon said. “Every day—every day, it is going to be a fight. And that is what I’m proudest about Donald Trump. All the opportunities he had to waiver off this; all the people who have come to him and said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to moderate.’ Every day in the Oval Office, he tells Reince and I, ‘I committed this to the American people; I promised this when I ran; and I’m going to deliver on this.’

Apologies are not necessary. That’s all water under the bridge and beside the point. But some chastening of the inclination to dismiss Trump and some appreciation, at least for what he intends to do?  That would be welcome and, even, helpful.

About Julie Ponzi

Julie Ponzi is Senior Editor of American Greatness. She holds an M.A. in political philosophy and American politics from the Claremont Graduate University. She was an Earhart Fellow and a Bradley Foundation Fellow while studying at Claremont and also earned a Publius Fellowship from The Claremont Institute. Formerly the Director of Academic Programs at the Claremont Institute, she also taught American politics at Azusa Pacific University. Her writing has appeared in the Claremont Review of Books, The Online Library of Law and Liberty, The Columbus Dispatch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Washington Times. She was also a regular and long-time contributor to the Ashbrook Center's blog, No Left Turns. She lives in California. You can follow her on Twitter at @JuliePonzi

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53 responses to “Bannon Vindicates John Marini”

  1. This could be true, however, there’s a serious problem in that he appears to be willing to ramp up the administrative state when it comes to ICE, INS, Border Patrol, FDA, FBI, DoJ, etc, to trounce the civil rights of the poorest people. It’s not that these people instinctively are against regulation and big government, but only that they don’t like certain areas of it because they feel it affects them negatively. When they think they can derive a benefit, they will gladly bring the full weight of an unConstitutional government on any perceived foe for any reason.

    I would suggest not traveling in a car if you have more than $100 in your wallet. And be careful not to plant tomatoes in your back yard, less armed men in helicopters make a hasty landing.

    • Your statement about “trouncing the civil rights of the poorest people” is disingenuous, since it implies that deportation is being done in an cruel and arbitrary manner. Here is a quote from acting ICE director Homan regarding the number of aliens who have gone through due process and exhausted all appeals: “As of May 21, 2016, there were 950,062 aliens with final orders of removal on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) national docket. Of those aliens, 939,056 were on ICE’s non-detained docket and 11,006 were on ICE’s detained docket.”

      No civil rights have been trounced. If the laws had been properly enforced, over 950,000 aliens should no longer be in this country. If you think that the immigration courts are too severe, then please suggest how the laws should be changed. Until then, I believe the administrative state is being used correctly.

      • That might make any sense if there were actually delegated authority for immigration in the Constitution. Read the 10th Amendment. Tell me what it says.

        Please education yourself on American history and the Constitution before pontificating, thanks.

      • Note that I provided facts about (a) the number of people who have exhausted all appeals and are subject to final deportation orders and (b) that they had due process, which was a direct response to your baffling observation that ICE etc were trampling on civil rights. For whatever reason, you pulled out the 10th amendment and irrelevant buzzwords like natural rights. If you are suggesting that it is not currently accepted that the Federal government (congress + executive) makes and enforces immigration law, that’s going to come as news to a lot of people. I’ll end with an quote from Justice Kennedy from an article from the American Bar Association. Though I’m sure in your opinion they haven’t read the constitution as creatively as you apparently have:

        “From the late 19th century through the present day, the Supreme Court has upheld almost every federal immigra­tion regulation against constitutional challenge, citing Congress’s plenary power in this area. As Justice Kennedy wrote in the 2012 decision in Arizona v. United States:

        The Government of the Unit­ed States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immi­gration and the status of aliens. … This authority rests, in part, on the National Government’s con­stitutional power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 4, and its inherent power as sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations….”

        Enjoyed re-reading the 10th amendment by the way. One of my favorites.

      • Note that your arguments about “due process” are irrelevant when the Federal government has no power to make laws against immigration. If you knew ANYTHING about the Constitution, you’d know it is based in natural rights so if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the Constitution, which explains a lot, gasbag.

        The Congress has broken the Constitution thousands of times, but obviously the biggies are entire agencies such as NASA, CIA, National Parks, Dept of Education, ACA, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Commerce Dept, EPA, OSHA, DEA, FDA, for starters. So you think it is suddenly impossible that they made up the power over immigration out of whole cloth?

        You claim it is “undoubted”, but I don’t just doubt it, I deny it absolutely, 100% and many others do, so you’re a liar as well. You simply assert things and assume people will accept it. Naturalization and immigration are only tangentially related and the power over either implies in no way power over the other. Swap the word Naturalization for Immigration and I would be arguing that Immigration power is totally Constitutional and it is Naturalization power that is left to the states. It’s really simple if you’re not retarded and understand basic English. We have different words for different things and you can be a naturalized citizen without EVER coming to the US, just as you can live in the US almost all of your entire life without ever becoming a citizen. AND EVEN IF YOU BELIEVED one requires another, notice that there is NO power to create and agency, but simply to make…what? A RULE. Just a rule. Nothing else. But guess what? The Founders immediately made a Naturalization Law and it says NOTHING about immigration. Didn’t matter to them. And never did. Only the grandsons of the Founders made the first immigration law in 1875.

        And not only that, not ONE slave state would have signed the document had it included the power to invade a State with armed men and remove by force any non-citizen. Because…duh, that would allow them to eliminate slavery on a whim.

        Just because you don’t understand natural rights doesn’t mean the did not. They most definitely did.

      • Lol. You take a quote from a justice of the supreme court, attribute it to me, and then call me a liar. I did not assert anything – I merely quoted people who disagreed with you, but perhaps that distinction was too subtle. Two posts, two ad hominem attacks and a ton of straw man thrown in for good measure. Way to convince people to listen to you, Senor Quixote. Adios!

      • Quoting people rather than the Constitution is your first mistake. I accept your surrender.

      • Very gracious of you! I do appreciate your expanded explanation of your position, though I consider it Quixotic. Your views are interesting, and I shall follow them. Your Disqus history is a terrific start. (seriously, much to absorb). My regards to Lady Dulcinea!

      • Apparently you believe aliens have a natural right to enter this country without the consent of its citizenry. That makes you a crank.

      • No, that makes me Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

      • Napoleon is the stereotypical imagined persona, but Jefferson and Madison makes you no less a nutjob.

        Jefferson: “…might not the general character and capabilities of a citizen be safely communicated to every one manifesting a bona fide purpose of embarking his life and fortunes permanently with us? with restrictions, perhaps, to guard against the fraudulent usurpation of our flag…” And who is to place these restrictions, if not the government of these United States?

      • NATURALIZATION restrictions, dumbass. That’s the point. he recommended 5 years of delay before being able to vote or run for federal office. Not surprising that you are illiterate about history.

      • So, we’re to allow a class of permanent residents to import themselves, but deny them citizenship? Funny that YOU are so clueless about democracy, Thomas.

      • It would be perfectly Constitutional to do so. But it isn’t to prevent them from coming in the first place. That’s the way the Constitution is setup and you have zero evidence to the contrary.

      • At the time of the adoption of the Constitution immigration was in the charge of the States, Mr. Lincoln not yet having turned the Constitution on its head. And I believe various States did have laws to prevent the arrival of public charges. That denying full citizenship to legal immigrants was contrary to natural law (and therefor contrary to the Ninth Amendment, later adopted) was addressed in the debate over the Naturalization clause, 3 Feb. 1790. Let Mr. Lawrence instruct you, James: “The reason of admitting foreigners to the rights of citizenship among us is the encouragement of emigration, as we have a large tract of country to people… It has been said, that we ought not to admit them to vote at our elections. Will they not have to pay taxes from the time they settle amongst us? And is it not a principle that taxation and representation ought to go hand and hand? Shall we then restrain a man from having an agency in the disposal of his own money?”

      • That is a perfectly good reason to allow immigrants to vote. But the Feds can constitutionally set any policy it wishes with regards to Naturalization and none at all with respect to immigration. Because one is in the Constitution and the other is not.

        Kind of funny how you lefties deny natural rights while demanding “civil” rights (privileges) from government. Very socialist of you, comrade. Praise Stalin.

      • BTW, I agree with him and wouldn’t protest if the price of open immigration was no naturalization at all, just open residency.

      • You don’t know what you’re talking about. Article 2 empowers the president to handle foreign affairs. That includes immigration since immigrants are foreigners. You’re in no position to lecture others on “educating” themselves when you have no such education yourself.

      • It would include immigration if immigration were an actual power of Congress, which would create the appropriate agency to handle it. It is not, so he doesn’t. The end.

      • Oh, and natural rights, while you’re at it. Not natural law.

  2. This captures the reality of why people want Trump. The overgrowth of the state – particularly the regulatory agencies costing $2T a year in compliance costs (more than corporate taxes and income taxes) – has suffocated business, produced economic stagnation, ruined families and lives by the millions especially in the real economy. The EPA alone is the greatest agent of wealth destruction in the history of capitalism. Our stupid trade treaties benefit global multinationals but gut and deindustrialize America. Our pursuit of the world policeman role long past the need for it (after the fall of the USSR), paying the defense costs of the EU (more populous and wealthy than America), Japan (the second wealthiest country in the world), has been a main contributor to $20Trillion of debt). Trump gets it. He gets the need to deregulate on a massive scale and restrict federal regulation only to what is needed. He gets the need to renegotiate the stupid treaties that allow China and others to sell freely into US markets but allow them to block sales into their markets (producing an $800B trade deficit worth >10M jobs directly and twice that with the multiplier effect). He gets the need to control the immigration that has wiped out the job prospects, lives and families of the American underclass and middle class workers. He gets the need to stop being world policeman and focus on defending those things important to American interests while incentivizing the EU, Japan and others to pay for their own defense. He understand that without real change the real economy in America will be hollowed out to the point of collapse and all the software in the country will not be able to make the money to maintain the US as a first-world economy or a free nation.

    • ‘The EPA alone is the greatest agent of wealth destruction in the history of capitalism.

      It’s also one of the political entities responsible for the most deaths by government. Anyone who’s not done so should look into the history of the EPA’s very *first* ‘regulatory act’ – which was the DDT ban – based on garbage ‘science’ which was hailed as consensus at the time. Rucklehaus had even testified in a court case previously as to the safety of the substance – but when the EPA held ‘hearings’ which restated that same safety – Rucklehaus refused to attend. The resulting ban – which was ‘enforced’ internationally by economic sanction threats…

      …killed 50 million humans over the span of several decades. The agency’s existence is ludicrous.

    • The EPA has a SWAT team. Consider the implications: unelected bureaucrats fashion regulations and can use deadly force to enforce them, outside the democratic process.

      Steve Bannon has considered the ramifications:

      “the way the progressive Left runs, is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just gonna put in some sort of regulation in—in an agency”

      Exactly. This soft-spoken, thoughtful man likely possesses the keenest politically strategic mind of our era. He has identified the two greatest enemies of the people, the Administrative State and its propaganda organs. Bannon and Trump have the brains and courage to take both out or neutralize them.

  3. This is a guy who claims he is going to eliminate human trafficking while ramping up the war on drugs and immigrants. Duh. What does he think causes human trafficking in the first place?!? Waiting for him to add a war on prostitution while he’s add it.

    • Amusing garbage. Sounds like you marched in unison with the pink kitty ear contingent. Pretty funny that one of the ‘demands’ of the women’s march – was fully legalized prostitution.

      Perhaps they’ll offer a cut rate to the hundreds of Americans killed by illegal aliens who *were* in US custody – but were released back onto US streets during Obama’s non-stop 8 years of violating existing Federal border and immigration laws – up to and including defying Federal courts…

      • Legalized prostitution helps create a safe environment for women who have little to no other useful job skills to earn a living and men who have little to no dating prospects to hook up and help each other. Aside from it being none of your business, why would you support rampant crime and human trafficking, death, beatings, kidnappings and other things that come along with black markets?

    • “Human trafficking” is the result of having borders? You’re a nutjob.

      • Great argument, bronut. Don’t use your whole IQ all at once.

  4. Trump’s administration needs to educate the public on just how regulations work against us.

    • You’ll pardon the observation – but since Carter’s creation of a Federal ‘department of education’ – our K-12 schools can’t turn out students who can *spell* regulation absent an iPhone or spell checker…

      That would be the K-12 system that was at the top of world testing levels prior to that Federal takeover…

      The Feds – amusingly (or not) – spent more than it took to put a man on the moon to prove they can’t even educate pre-schoolers – via the abysmally failed ‘Head Start’…

  5. A lot of us have felt this way about the unelected, unaccountable arrogant bureaucratic state for quite some time now. The bureaucrats are just like politicians who rule rather than serve the people, but they can’t be gotten rid of no matter who you vote for…

    Until maybe now. Maybe only an outsider like Trump can fix this – he has my support 100%.

  6. Reason (mag and online) did an amusing investigation into bureaucracy – illuminating the fact that a US citizen requires a Federal permit to sell a *single* tart cherry off a tree in their yard – or orchard. One might observe that level of ‘regulation’ – is simply put – the pits. Or pit – as the case may be…

  7. The political elite are all Marxist Communists be they democrats or their comrade RINO’s. Together they are all working for the take over of America by the UN’s Globalism formerly known as the New World Order, One World Government, control of everyone in the world with no nation states.

  8. When Jorge Bush came out soon after 9/11 and proclaimed islam a religion of peace; when Jorge went on to allow Iraq and Afghanistan to write their own constitutions whereby they legalized sharia as the law of their lands; when we attacked Iraq when 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were saudis; when the gang of 8 made 2 attempts to grant citizenship to illegal aliens ….

    The fog burned off.

  9. It is laughable to suggest that trump is doing anything beyond playing to his base.

    HE has not made even a transparent effort to convince those who opposed him that he is NOT to be loathed.

    • It is laughable to pretend that those who oppose even COULD be convinced. They are haters. That’s what they do. They hate Trump, they hate America, they hate God, they hate decent people. They have made no effort to convince Trumpers that they are NOT to be loathed.

      • When the haters include former wives, customers (Trump U. ??) and biz associates, some wonder if he is EVER honest.

        Not you

      • You are the one hating. Pull in your claws. Stop being so nasty. It’s unnecessary and makes discussion well-nigh impossible.

      • Are YOU ever honest? Both Trump’s former wives endorsed him.

      • And his mistresses? Did they also get a check to endorse?

        One of his ex-wives accursed him of rape…but later, when the lawyers got involved, said it was “emotional rape” she was referring to. Good enough for you, right?

      • As far as anyone knows, these “checks” exist only in your fetid imagination. And, of course, Ivana’s deposition was at the behest of her divorce lawyer, not before he “got involved”. Your claim that she hates Trump is unvarnished nonsense, and only a fool would vomit it up as a purported “fact” with no more evidence than you offer.

      • Of course they did.

        And they divorced him because they knew DJT needed his freedom, they loved him so much, they wanted him to fornicate with models half his age. HE has his needs, you know.

      • So, you say you know that they hate him despite having endorsed him.

        That’s just more evidence that you are an idiot as well as a liar.

      • And you think the former wives reflect lovingly on DJT.

        You are a romantic…who calls names like a child.

      • You’re an idiot. That’s not merely a “name”, it’s an earned description. If you don’t want to be described as an idiot, consider stop behaving like one.

        I of course have expressed no opinion on whether Trump’s former wives “love” him. Perhaps they’ve said one way or another, but I haven’t noticed. You, on the other hand, saw fit to declare that they “hate” him, and I had heard somewhere that Ivana had endorsed him. A quick Google turned up the fact that Marla Maples had as well.

        Your response to this was to further project your ignorance onto people you don’t know.

        God, you’re a determined moron.

  10. Marini’s essay is a must-read. To reduce its thesis to it basics, while using my own words, Donald Trump must do to 0bamagrad (the Beltway region and beyond, the counties in which the most affluent residents of the United States reside) what Curtis Lemay did to Tokyo on the night of 9-10 March 1945. (For the benefit of those ignorant of history, he burned the place down.)

    The affluence of the Beltway region is solely due to its bloodsucking of the wealth of the remainder of the country.

    The bloated 3 constitutional branches of the federal government, the bureaucracy (“4th branch”) and Beltway Bandit contractors (the “fifth branch”) must be reduced to the smallest possible footprint consistent with the Federal Constitution of 1789.

    This is the 500th anniversary year of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, condemning the Church for having become bloated and lost sight of its original mission. Trump should come up with his own 95 Theses to explain how the federal government has become bloated, lost sight of its original mission, and must be purified to return it to its original purpose.

  11. Candidate—now President—Trump has laudably inveighed against excessive regulation and its adverse effect on business, but has he ever spoken of directly taking on the Administrative State, the Fourth (unconstitutional) Branch of Government, the Leviathan (as Mark Levin calls it)?

    A new Presidential administration brings in only a thin layer of high-level officers for the Departments and Agencies that make up the Leviathan. The bulk of the employees remain from one administration to the next, forming an immovable object that can be affected only at the margins. Ronald Reagan called for eliminating the Department of Education, but failed.

    I remember a course I took long ago on Chinese history. The key point that stuck with me was that over the course of a few hundred years, the imperial government would become so stultified and otiose with offices of time-serving bureaucrats that the Empire became vulnerable to the depredations of Mongol hordes from the steppes. Eventually the barbarians would breach the Wall, wipe out the old dynasty, and install a fresh new one. Then the cycle would begin again, and after a few hundred years, a new crop of barbarians would find a fat and incompetent Empire ripe for a new plucking.

    It is naive, I think, to hope that a Trump Administration, or any other, would be able to reduce the Leviathan to rubble. At a minimum it will take a Congress willing and eager to disenfranchise whole departments, agencies, and programs, wipe them out, or reduce them to shadows of their former selves—maybe move them out of Washington to the hinterlands, as was suggested on this site a few days ago. At a maximum, it will take an Article Five Convention of States, as Mark Levin has proposed, to radically restructure the Federal government with Constitutional Amendments.

    Maybe Steve Bannon can push President Trump and the rest of the Administration in those directions. I fear he will find the task overwhelming, and ultimately frustrating. Reducing a few regulations here and there won’t be nearly enough. The bulk of the Leviathan will just hunker down and wait until the next election.

    /Mr Lynn