I have to be honest here. I have had strong fears for years that America is sliding rapidly towards fascism or some form of totalitarian government.
One of the biggest myths about this type of regime is that one can spot it by proliferation and strength of it's laws. In fact, totalitarian states are places in which the law is the whim of the king or dictator. Our founders feared this situation and tied leaders to the law with very few "if's ands or buts". The president, legislators, police and government officials pledge allegance to the law. Emergency powers are very limited and for the most part were only for use during war.
In contrast, let's look at some fascist and pro fascist political views.
"In 1921, Schmitt became a professor at the University of Greifswald, where he published his essay "Die Diktatur" ("On Dictatorship"), in which he discussed the foundations of the newly-established Weimar Republic, emphasising the office of the Reichspräsident. In this essay, Schmitt compared and contrasted what he saw as the effective and ineffective elements of the new constitution of his country. To him, the office of the president could be characterized as a comparatively effective element within the new constitution, because of the power granted to the president to declare a state of emergency. This power, which Schmitt discussed and implicitly praised as dictatorial, was seen as more effective, more in line with the underlying mentality of political power, than the comparatively slow and ineffective processes of legislative political power reached through parliamentary discussion and compromise.
Schmitt was at pains to remove what he saw as a squeamish taboo surrounding the concept of "dictatorship" and to show that, in his eyes, the concept is implicit whenever power is wielded through pathways outside the slow and rusty processes of parliamentary politics:
“If the constitution of a state is democratic, then every exceptional negation of democratic principles, every exercise of state power independent of the approval of the majority, can be called dictatorship.”
For Schmitt, every government capable of decisive action must include a dictatorial element within its constitution. Although the German concept of Ausnahmezustand is best translated as "state of emergency", it literally means state of exception which,according to Schmitt, frees the executive from any legal restraints to its power that would normally apply. The use of the term "exceptional" has to be underlined here: Schmitt defines sovereignty as the power to decide the instauration of state of exception, as Giorgio Agamben has noted. According to Agamben, Schmitt's conceptualization of the "state of exception" as belonging to the core-concept of sovereignty was a response to Walter Benjamin's concept of a "pure" or "revolutionary" violence, which didn't enter into any relationship whatsoever with right. Through the state of exception, Schmitt included all types of violence under right. According to Giorgio Agamben, this kind of violence, which necessarily bears a juridical value, is another example of the fusion of right to "bare life" (It. vita nuda, Grk. zoe) that transforms the juridical system into a "death machine," able to perform acts of pure violence as needed for self-legitimation, creating Homo sacer, a being that cannot be "murdered" or "sacrificed" but only killed.
Schmitt opposed what he called "chief constable dictature", or the declaration of a state of emergency in order to save the legal order (a temporary suspension of law, defined itself by moral or legal right): the state of emergency is limited (even if a posteriori, by law), to "sovereign dictature", in which law was suspended, as in the classical state of exception, not to "save the Constitution", but rather to create another Constitution. This is how he theorized Hitler's continual suspension of the legal constitutional order during the Third Reich (the Weimar Republic's Constitution was never abrogated, underlined Giorgio Agamben; rather, it was "suspended" for four years, first at February 28, 1933 Reichstag Fire Decree, with the suspension renewed every four years, implying a -- continual -- state of emergency)."
Benito Mussolini (actual quote)
"The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....
...The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone.... "
I won't go on endlessly about this, power unlimited by law is the defining aspect of all tyrany. At it's most exteme we have the Fuhrer Principle.
"The ideology of the Führerprinzip sees each organization as a hierarchy of leaders, where every leader (Führer, in German) has absolute responsibility in his own area, demands absolute obedience from those below him and answers only to his superiors. The supreme leader, Adolf Hitler, answered to no one. Giorgio Agamben has argued that Hitler saw himself as an incarnation of auctoritas, and as the living law itself. The Führerprinzip paralleled the functionality of military organizations, which continue to use a similar authority structure today. The justification for the civil use of the Führerprinzip was that unquestioning obedience to superiors supposedly produced order and prosperity in which those deemed 'worthy' would share."
We all should know, the checks put in place by our system to control state power. Congress debates and makes clear laws, the president and the executive branch carry them out and the Supreme court makes sure they conform to the "supreme law" of the constitution which of course can be changed. The whole process places difficult, slow and messy roadblocks in the path of those who "just want to get things done", in times of crisis or "emergency".
Listing all the recent "emergency measures" of dubious legality would take too long or might not be possible at all since many are secret. The recent PPIP plan is an example.
"In the fine print of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s plan to lend as much as $1 trillion to private investors to help them buy toxic assets from our nation’s banks, you’ll find some details of how the F.D.I.C is trying to stabilize the system by adding more risk, not less, to the system.
It’s going to be insuring 85 percent of the debt, provided by the Treasury, that private investors will use to subsidize their acquisitions of toxic assets. The program, extraordinary in its size and scope, is the equivalent of TARP 2.0. Only this time, Congress didn’t get a chance to vote."http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/the-taxpayer-takes-the-risk-in-fdics-no-risk-insurance/#statute"
The action is a clear attempt to stuff evade the real risks and obligations being taken on by current and future taxpayers and also those who might lend the government money and to get around any need to appropriate more money.