The administrative state, the federal leviathan, the Swamp: The monstrous, centralized, bureaucratic, entrenched decision-making apparatus within the federal government that seems to answer only to itself.
On Sunday night's episode of Life, Liberty & Levin, LevinTV host Mark Levin and Claremont Institute senior fellow and University of Nevada, Reno, Professor John Marini talked about how that Swamp got to be so deep and how things are actually worse now than most people realize.
"The administrative state is such a pervasive phenomenon that most people think of it simply as the bureaucracy," Marini explained. "But it's really much more pervasive than that, because it not only is established in the institutions that are created by government, but it also has a kind of authority ... that allows politicians to defer to that authority and relieves them, really, of making the kind of political decisions that they need to make about things like making laws."
The problem with this scenario is not just that the administrative state mechanism is teeming with progressive ideology, regardless of who controls Congress or the White House, but that its very existence runs contrary to the Constitution.
"There's absolutely no authority for the administrative realm in the Constitution," Marini explained. "Every authority that is in the Constitution is a political authority, so it derives either from the legislative, executive, or judicial powers."
"Now, every government has to have an administration, obviously, but the administration that we have now — and the reason why it's sometimes called rational administration — is not merely carrying out the political will; it's establishing its own authority to carry out, to deal with, problems that those who have political authority are no longer dealing with," Marini explained. "They've, in a certain way, turned those decisions over to those who have specialized knowledge."
One of the biggest shifts towards this model occurred during the "Great Society" program push of the Lyndon Johnson era, when Marini said Congress went from being a lawmaking body to a "administrative oversight body."
"There's no question that this is all part of the progressive legacy" and the progressive experiment to "replace civil society" with technocratic decision-making from a modern administrative government, Marini explained. "In a certain way ... that extends all the way down almost to the family — that every other kind of social organization that once dealt with the problems that are now handled by bureaucracies, all of those things have been turned over, you might say, to professionals."
Levin and Marini talked about the fact that the descriptions "expert" and "professionals" are really only "credentials that give them the authority for that. That is not the same as knowledge."
Marini also added that this kind of thinking was a far cry from the kind of governance initially intended for the United States. Among the American Founders, he explained, "there would have been no substitute for making these moral decisions based on human reason. There's no way that you can delegate that to some other body."
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