Bush's Coup d'Etat
by Harry Browne
December 20, 2001

In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt was elected promising a 25% reduction in the federal budget, an end to deficits, and the restoration of a sound dollar.

Within eight years the federal budget tripled, federal debt increased 155%, and the gold standard was repudiated making the U.S. dollar a fiat currency.

Roosevelt's New Deal transformed America from a unique country in which everyone could live his life as he saw fit into a welfare state in which most business was supervised from Washington.

No longer was America run by the people or even by Congress. Instead it was now directed by bureaucrats operating in regulatory agencies like the AAA, FCA, CCC, FCI, SMA, FSA, NLRB, PWA, WPA, FDIC, FSLIC, SEC, SSA, REA, EHFA directing when we shall sow and when we shall reap.


Why would Americans give up their freedom for a system that had never worked well in the Old World?

They did it because Roosevelt never attacked the American Way head-on. Instead . . .

  1. He praised the Constitution, but said it must be updated from "horse and buggy" days.
  2. He never discussed the liberties he was stealing talking instead about government's power to do good.
  3. Any objectors were challenged to prove that some other program could cure the Depression perfectly overnight.
  4. Those who protested the loss of freedom were dismissed as alarmists and "economic royalists" who wanted to continue exploiting their neighbors.

The magic words were "recovery" and "emergency." They justified everything even though the New Deal produced no recovery, and there were far better ways to deal with the emergency.


The writer Garet Garrett called the New Deal "The People's Pottage." Esau had traded his birthright for a mess of pottage. And now the American people had traded their birthright the freest nation the world had ever known for a mess of pottage.

And what did that pottage consist of?

In 1940 the unemployment rate was still 15%, the Depression was still severe, and Roosevelt was maneuvering America into war to distract attention from the New Deal's failures.


In 2000 George Bush won the Presidency promising "limited government," reading the Constitution literally, and rejecting the concept of "nation-building" the practice of imposing pro-American governments on foreign nations.

But once in office he produced a federal budget limited by nothing. And now he's making the Constitution an instrument of his own power even as he imposes a new government on Afghanistan.


The Roosevelt Coup d'Etat destroyed the 9th and 10th amendments the ones limiting the government's functions.

The 1st and 2nd amendments remained in form although the Supreme Court now decides when they can be overruled by the government's "compelling interest." Amendments 3-8 have survived, although considerably battered. But now the Bush Coup d'Etat is aimed at erasing these last restrictions on government power.

Bush wants to decide when people can have a jury trial, be safe from cruel and unusual punishment, be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, and be able to confront their accusers.

When the Bush New Deal is completed, the Bill of Rights will survive in name only. And you will live and breathe only by the sufferance of the all-mighty government. Your fate will be in the hands of people like George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Teddy Kennedy, and Strom Thurmond.

Of course, George Bush is doing this to save America.

But what is America if there's no individual liberty?


Like Roosevelt, George Bush isn't attacking the Constitution and the American way head-on. Instead . . .

  1. He claims to want to preserve the Constitution, but says we must put security first.
  2. He diverts attention from our lost liberties by talking about ridding the world of evildoers.
  3. Objectors are challenged to provide another program that can destroy terrorism perfectly.
  4. Those protesting the lost liberties are dismissed as unpatriotic, paranoid, or "America-haters" who are aiding the terrorists by "scaring peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty."

The magic words are "security" and "emergency." They justify everything even though Bush is increasing the world domination that made us vulnerable to terrorism in the first place.

If George Bush were a Democrat, many conservatives would be fighting him to the death. But too many conservatives have abandoned their principles and begun deciding right and wrong on the basis of party labels.


We, too, are trading the last remnants of America for a mess of pottage.

The War on Terrorism has no more chance of succeeding than the New Deal, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, or the War on Illiteracy.

The first revolution for big government was effected by a man who railed against big government and said he wanted to save capitalism. The second revolution is being engineered by a man who claims to be for limited government and the preservation of freedom.

Even as he seeks to destroy the last vestiges of a free America.

Previous articles by Harry Browne on Antiwar.com

Secret Trials Endanger Security

Brute Force Doesn't Solve Conflicts

Who Gave Your Rights Away?

I Love America. Do You?

Isn't It Time for the Truth?

Preventing Future Terrorism

Do We Choose Death or Peace?

What Can We Do About Terrorism?

The Overlooked Flaw in Retaliation


The Cycle of Violence

When Will We Learn?

What is War?

Harry Browne is the Director of Public Policy at the American Liberty Foundation. You can read more of his articles on his website, and his books are available at HBBooks.com.


Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us