Of all the sins that FDR committed against this nation by his attempt to transform it from a self-reliant free republic into a modern fascistic welfare state locked in perpetual conflict at home against its political enemies and abroad with various monsters to slay whose evil was none of our business (unless attacking the United States, but even then our leaders often - as I noted in earlier parts of this theme - goad their opponents into firing the first provocative shot - e.g. Fort Sumter, Pearl Harbor), one way in which he did obey the letter and spirit of the Constitution was to ask Congress for a war declaration whenever it was required. Beginning with Harry S. Truman and every President since has never asked for such a declaration against any real or perceived enemy of America who has done (or allegedly done) anything constituting an act of war against this republic. Admittedly there have only been five declared wars by Congress since 1812, but many other military actions were governed and limited by Congressional legislation when Presidents took the action beginning with the Indian Wars from 1794-1890 and the Quasi Naval War with France of 1798. Now, the President acts like a warlord who must only gain NATO or UN support or consent to initiate war anywhere, bypassing the Congress even for a fig-leaf resolution (never a declaration of war as required in major combat operations).
Now, after his landslide election to the only full term he held, President Lyndon Baines Johnson set out to outdo his predecessor John Fitzgerald Kennedy as a great legislative mover exceeding his output as Congressman, Senator and Senate Majority Leader. He gained a huge Congressional majority (greater than the level of the prior Congress) in 1965 just as FDR had in 1933 - 1938. But even before his sweeping election over Senator Barry Goldwater, he rammed sweeping legislation through his first full year finishing Kennedy's term with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bringing the promise of freedom and equality to black people for the first time since the Reconstruction Era. Despite the elimination of free association in private matters being reclassified as public accomodation, it on balance probably did more good than harm, until twisted into a demand for not equality of opportunity but equality of outcome (something impossible in an imperfect world).
Of course getting a bill passed Kennedy never could as President, Johnson was not content with a civil rights triumph. The Democratic Party having a desire to social engineer our society since the Progressive Era and New Deal eras, Lyndon Johnson decided to pass more social legislation forever altering America for the worse. I also beleive there is a cynical lust for power among these politicians that if they can give you free goodies to help you they will forever buy your vote and that of later generations. The Great Society had a guns and butter component in some ways. The butter component was the infamous War on Poverty that included programs such as Medicare/Medicaid and the ongoing advisory role of the US in South Vietnam escalating after a phony attack incident against two US Navy destroyers close to North Vietnam in August 1964. Of course, all Johnson's War on Poverty did was institutionalize charity as a government responsibility as the New Deal also had decades earlier. Poverty rates prior to 1965 were declining gradually every year, but suddenly with the government offering programs to aid the poor the poverty rate stagnated and remained the same or sometimes in recent years rising. Government declared war on poverty and poverty won after decades with trillion spent. The education spending with Titles I - XII created the nightmare of affirmative action for minorities to get ahead not on merit but by racial or sexual identity. Education scores have declined in years since the US government increased spending on schools. Everything Johnson pushed for spending on domestically did not have the intended effect of bettering society but created dependency and societal decay in succeeding years. Even his civil rights initiatives were followed by racial unrest in various American cities during that decade. Medicare/Medicaid ended up costing far more to the taxpayer than Congress claimed it would in 1965 and has only served to increase medical costs, where before it the poor and elderly had charity options from hospitals or some doctors. Other programs this nation cannot afford Johnson's time in office foisted upon us include: The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, VISTA, Job Corps and the Public Broadcasting System. As one example, why do we need government funding art, taking tax dollars to support artists who cannot find patrons as they've had to do for centuries to support their work with private capital? The Vietnam War had a similar component of do-gooder mentality about it as with the Great Society. Johnson at one point thought he could bomb North Vietnam into accepting a peace deal that would have foreign aid offered if they stopped their war on South Vietnam. Of course it was the debacle of body counts and war of attrition in South Vietnam that led to Johnson's refusal about running for a second full term. Johnson's spending spree also inflated the economy of the US that would affect the economy for several years after he left office.
Sadly, his successor Republican Richard Nixon did even more harm to this republic (and not by that little burglary he ordered in 1972). Nixon eliminated the last tie the US Dollar had to gold backing (as Roosevelt had by eliminating gold backing for dollar exchanges domestically in 1933) in 1971 thus sending out money into a free-floating system balanced against other convertible currencies. Nixon also gave us evil agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency by executive order that now has a ridiculously impossible standard of regulation against any potential of pollution that has cost American business and commerce billions in regulatory costs inflicted upon their bottom line. His escalation of the War on Drugs began a march as did the 1960s urban riots toward a police state mentality of SWAT teams ready to act like soldiers first and peace officers second.
Of course, the greatest federal government power grab was yet to come. Johnson may have expanded the welfare state and insinuated Washington, D.C. into even more areas where it had no business in a free republic, but one tragic day in 2001 would expand that power to unimagined heights. First, I should mention the so-called USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act had been written as law in President Bill Clinton's Justice Department (probably soon after the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing of 1995) but Clinton and his arrogant Attorney General Janet Reno could never find an opportune crisis moment to introduce that legislation on a skeptical GOP majority Congress and a nation that did not always trust him with expanded powers. So after the September 11, 2001 attacks, George W. Bush had a terrified nation and compliant Congress (Republican House and narrowly-Democratic Senate) to pass that massive bill without the Congress members ever reading its 342 pages first in October 2001. With this one act, the US Federal Government gained the power to spy on citizens' e-mails, telephone calls, reading habits and financial transactions (the war on drugs had also done this to some extent). The government police agencies could write their own search warrants to break into people's homes or subpoena any records on them without needing a judge's permission from any court. The act has been amended and extended by Congresses since and President Obama seems to enjoy using its expanded powers without seeking the repeal of any of its abusive powers. Of course, George W. Bush went on to commit further actions of political evil in the name of this endless war on terror. He demanded Afghanistan's Taliban rulers hand over alleged Al Quida 9-11 attack mastermind Osama Bin Laden (even though the man was never indicted for the bombing itself, but other crimes by the US Justice Department) or be bombed as well as threatening Pakistan with a similar fate unless they allowed the US to use their country as a logistical staging area for the Afghanistan invasion. He received authorization by Congress (again not a declaration of war) to bomb and invade Afghanistan with assistance from NATO under the mutual defense clauses of that organization (an attack on one member being an attack on all), even though the Taliban had never attacked the US and would have surrendered Bin Laden even though their guest if the US provided evidence the man was guilty (the US refused and threatened them to turn him over or else). Bush and his Cabinet national security officials lied to Congress about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction (some twelve years after his father President George H. W. Bush went into an undeclared war against Iraq merely because it had invaded the neighboring monarchy of Kuwait over failure to repay debts owed Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88) and implying Iraq had some part in the 9-11 attacks. We stayed there and occupied the country for eight years after a quick two-month invasion, only leaving because Iraq would not allow US Troops to stay and be immune from proescution for murdering Iraqi citizens. We remain in Afghanistan to no good purpose. Al Quida was driven from that land, but the deposed Taliban movement remains as a rebel force against the US/NATO coalition that now cannot trust its Afghanistan allies of the puppet Karzai government in Kabul from turning their US supplied guns on the coalition troops. Pakistan is an unstable client state in the region like many of our allies in that part of the world, paid for their loyalty to our agenda and nothing more. Bush's two terms also saw the normalization of torture as standard interrogation technique overseas and at the Guantanamo Naval Base on the island of Cuba by the Central Intelligence Agency the US Armed Forces and its overseas allies, with a few hundred alleged terrorist suspects held at the base or in overseas foreign prisons indefinitely and without trial (except by sham military tribunals). They have abandoned the Geneva Accords on the Treatment of Prisoners of War by labeling the terrorists captured enemy combatants to get around the legal thicket of how we treat our prisoners.
And now Obama has signed into law in 2011 a National Defense Authorization Act giving the US Government the right to detain its citizens indefinitely in two of its clauses without due process of law guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. He has ordered even more drone attacks against America's alleged foreign enemies using unmanned aerial drone aircraft armed with missiles, even killing two US citizens of Arab descent in Yemen for the adult citizen's alleged terrorist crimes and ties. His White House draws up weekly Kill Lists for targets overseas. Not even George W. Bush dared do as much with his expanded powers. Now in 2013 with his second term beginning, President Barack Obama has claimed the power to kill any target in or outside the United States without due process of legal proceedings by any court - including American citizens. Within two years unmanned aerial drones will be routinely flying over US airspace employed by federal, city and state police agencies or governments to monitor for other reasons than terrorism, something that was never meant to be allowed under the Bill of Rights Amendment Four guaranteeing people security against unlawful searches or seizures. The police since the 1960s urban riots and anti-war protests and the 1970s war on narcotics has been gradually militarized into a paramilitary network of thousands of officer with military training and paramilitary equipment to act (and not just inside major cities where they behave more like an occupying army than peace officers) like soidlers at war with the very populations they are sworn to serve and protect. They are backed up by some 50,000 or so federal police agents at all the various alphabet labeled agencies created by Wilson, FDR, LBJ or other chief executives with compliant Congresses that defer too often to the Executive Branch - this force constituting close to five army divisions in strength and with the overarching police powers to attack any individual the government considers its enemy - from a tax resister refusing to pay the voluntary reported income taxes with the IRS to the farmer who sells raw milk to willing customers without the FDA's permission. The war against whistleblowers pointing out government wrongdoing is a far cry from the actions that exposed Nixon's Watergate burglary in 1972-73. There is no transparency to this government in the evil they do as was meant by passing the Freedom of Information Act, now thwarted by high-sounding words like Executive Privilege or Matter of National Security to hide the darkness committed in our names by these elected or appointed officials.
In short, what is the one common factor to every turning point that has sent this one free republic (admittedly that had legalized chattal hereditary slavery in some or all of the states during the years since 1776)? It is the Executive Branch of the US Constitution, a document foisted upon us by unscrupulous men seeking a stronger central government to gain power and empire over time, to rule the common man rather than be ruled by those voters they serve on behalf of in government. The Executive Branch headed by a President since 1787 has expanded its power and authority with each overstepping of boundaries separating the three government branches, each executive order, each war power given by Congress or taken by its leader, each new law creating another Cabinet level agency or bureaucracy to rule and regulate us to death and bring the American mixed public-private (the definition of a fascist system) economy to a grinding halt or stagnation. There should never have been an executive at the national level with so much potential for abuse to have by now become an emperor seeking to be master of the world and the people who are allegedly sovereign. When the federal government is its own determiner of what is legal or illegal for it to do and some federal court rules in favor of the government agency or official time and time again, we no longer have a rule of law but rule by people who decide on a whim of the moment for expediency's sake what is moral or immoral. This nation is already irretrievably lost to this tyranny I'm firmly convinced, even to the point I suspect that typing these very words will someday result in either my execution by drone strike from a high altitude missile or indefinite detention at one of the new internment camps built by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house anyone the government decides is a terrorist, enemy of the state, traitor or what label they choose to brand those that disagree with them and dare say it.