Under President Obama, rule by decree has become commonplace, with federal edicts dictating policies on everything from immigration and labor laws to climate change. No modern leader since Nixon has been so bold in trying to consolidate power. But the current president is also building on a trend: Since 1910 the federal government has doubled its share of government spending to 60 percent. Its share of GDP has now grown to the highest level since World War II.Today climate change has become the killer app for expanding state control, for example, helping Jerry Brown find his inner Duce. But the authoritarian urge is hardly limited to climate-related issues. It can be seen on college campuses, where uniformity of belief is increasingly mandated. In Europe, the other democratic bastion, the continental bureaucracy now controls ever more of daily life on the continent. You don’t want thousands of Syrian refugees in your town, but the EU knows better. You will take them and like it, or be labeled a racist.
Already the disconnect between the hoi polloi and the new bureaucratic master race has spawned a powerful blowback, as evidenced by the rise of rightist, even quasi-fascist parties throughout the old continent. The people at the top—including much of the business leadership—may like the idea of a central European master-state, but support for the EU is at record low. Increasingly Europeans want, at the very least, to dial down the centralization and bring back some control to the local level, and something of the primacy of traditional cultures and what are still perceived as “European values.”