The slow creep of authoritarianism


One of the most breath-taking phenomena of the past 3 years has been to see how our Federal government lies to us, fails in its duties, abuses its power and generally disappoints the people who it is supposed to serve, and yet never apologizes, never admits, and never corrects.

I would be justified in blaming much of this malfeasance on the current administration, to be sure, but I think the problem runs deeper than that. There is a kind of impregnable ignorance that accrues with large institutions which if left unchecked, will lead to more and more corruption and incompetence.

Trump saw this creeping authoritarianism and tried to do something about it. The famous phrase was “drain the swamp,” which was mainly propaganda but still pointed at an important instinct he and many others have, which is that we have to take back power from the entrenched bureaucracy.

One of Trump’s concrete actions in this regard was to require the rescission of two regulations for every newly proposed one. The point was this: Yes, we will allow you to add a regulation here, but you must release the people from needless regulations there. A kind of bureaucratic quid pro quo.

Alas, that spirit is entirely missing from this administration. My simple definition of socialism is a system that tends to accrue power to the central government. Is there any doubt that the Democrats are socialistic by this reckoning?

There simply is not a problem that they will not throw the weight and heft of the Federal government at. And, you can be sure that once they’ve done so, they will spend precious few moments judging if the attempted solution worked or not. Instead, they move on to the next existential crisis that will justify their ever-increasing power over our lives (see the current attempts to ban gas stoves).

Some states, mainly red ones but not exclusively, push back on this centralizing tendency and actually try to make their governance more accountable and lighter in touch. Thank God.

But the vultures in our centralized Federal bureaucracy know no such humility or circumspection. The best example is their response to Covid, which was to first try and shutdown the country, then ban treatments, then force a vaccine which had not been fully or properly tested.

When these efforts failed in various significant ways and caused untold damage to children’s development, peoples’ businesses, and their very health, did they apologize for their mistakes? No. They kept insisting on vaccines, lockdowns, shuttered schools and churches, etc. Fauci even admitted recently that he would have liked to lock things down even more stringently!

Now we are faced with an incompetent Federal government that continues to attack our rights and impose its perverse will on us, largely cheered on by the useful idiots in the press corps.

We may assume that such excesses will eventually be curbed by our constitutional system, but what are some of the leading lights of the progressive movement saying about that venerable document these days? That it must be scrapped as a relic of white supremacism. If such insane ideas gather enough momentum, any protections afforded by our Constitution may be swept away along with reason, logic, decency, and earnestness in our governing class.

I can only hope and pray that people on the Democratic side will see the cavalcade of failures by this president and his party and conclude that we cannot trust them, no matter their rhetoric or virtue signalling.

Their policies have begotten higher crime, higher inflation, economic stagnation, national division, global weakness, war and the threat of war, unchecked illegal immigration, higher suicidality and misery for kids, and unneeded death and suffering from Covid.

I hope we are at the point where enough is truly enough and a sufficient portion of Democratic voters switch their allegiance and put into power a party that, while certainly not perfect, will at least stop this slide into authoritarianism.

Trey Hoffman

Peachtree City, Ga.


  1. I can’t wait for Trey’s next letter because I know he can’t wait to pen a missive condemning the Fox News personalities who purposefully misinformed their viewers about the 2020 election results merely to garner better ratings. Mr. Hoffman would never miss an opportunity to point out nefarious behavior on this magnitude.

    Or will the cat get his tongue?

    • KPar – You would appear wiser than an average Twitter user if you could support your assertion about conservatives.

      If this is a problem like the national security, social and financial rot coming from liberals / progressives, you could easily list your view of what conservatives have done, or maybe you could refute the points Trey made.

      I believe you’ll find your list is mostly conservatives’ response to changes imposed from the authoritarian left eg Critical Race Theory, crushing national debt, censorship of conservatives, open borders, sexualizing children, defunding the police, and on and on.

  2. Hoffman uncharacteristically makes some good points in this missive. Unfortunately, his myopia prevents him from extending the critical evaluation of governmental overreach to both terminals of the political spectrum. Besides the authoritarian impulses of legislative and bureaucratic agencies that he cites, let me identify several more.

    The most egregious overreach of the government in the last 5 decades is its insistence upon regulating what a woman does with her own body. Against the will of the majority of Americans, authoritative legislative bodies want to control every aspect of what goes on inside a woman’s pants.

    Further authoritarian overreach includes preventing public school educators from teaching a comprehensive history of the United States or even answering a first grader who asks his teacher why Johnny said he has two dads and no mom.

    And then there is the sad state of Congress blocking immigration reform merely so they can lament that the situation is out of hand. Indeed, they first pass a law that says anyone can present himself in our country for political asylum, and then chide the administrations of both parties for the methods used to adhere to the law they created.

    The authoritarian handcuffs that both parties gleefully place on parents so that they are not allowed to make decisions for their own children are appalling.

    I could go on for pages, but readers get the picture. Both liberals and conservatives love to make rules and are not bashful about enforcing them. Trey easily identifies what he finds as socialist-leaning overreach, but I could just as easily identify the authoritarians on the other end as fascist. However, name-calling is ineffective in remediating the problems.

    We must elect legislators who will work together to find appropriate compromises that everyone can live with rather than elect flame-throwers who vow never to give up their authoritarian vision of chaining the American people. Will we as the electorate ever learn?

    • STF – while I wholeheartedly endorse your rejection of authoritarian politicians and bureaucrats, you excuse leftist authoritarianism with unsupported claims of conservative overreach. Trey is right: the root of much of the divisiveness, censorship and upending of social norms is coming from the authoritarian left.

      Five decades ago, only 6 states allowed abortion, which is what I assume you are referring to as the regulation of what a woman does with her own body. Unless you were thinking about prostitution or shooting up narcotics, but those are still illegal. The egregious authoritarian overreach was imposing a top down Supreme Court case on the remaining 44 states. That came from the left side of the aisle.

      Since you have no facts or examples about restrictions on teaching history or answering a child’s question, you must not have a point to make there.

      While I am in favor of increased legal immigration based on skills and ability to support themselves, it makes absolutely no sense to make immigration and citizenship changes until we secure our borders. First priority is always to plug the hole in the side of the boat. Plus we need to step up enforcement of existing laws to deport those who are here illegally.

      Next, you throw out an unsupported line that both parties are gleefully placing handcuffs on parents regarding decisions for their own children. Please list what conservatives have done that is not in response to changes imposed from the authoritarian left.

      I agree that name-calling is not productive, but neither is avoiding the truth.

        • STF – Your post makes unsubstantiated claims of conservative authoritarianism, including “Both liberals and conservatives love to make rules and are not bashful about enforcing them. Trey easily identifies what he finds as socialist-leaning overreach, but I could just as easily identify the authoritarians on the other end as fascist.”

          So you acknowledge leftist authoritarianism, but then excuse it by claiming that conservatives do it too. You did not refute anything Trey wrote, nor did you give examples and facts to support your claims about conservatives.

          And we’re still waiting for your list of examples of “handcuffs gleefully placed on the hands of parents” by conservatives.

          Most actions labeled “fascist” (or sexist, racist, transphobic, etc) by the left are merely a conservative rejection of woke culture and liberal authoritarians.

          The wave of big government and woke culture being imposed on us is the major cause of our decline as a country. We all must act to maintain what has made America the greatest nation in history.

          • 2Cents – Obviously, we see the world very differently. Your dichotomous reasoning seems to categorize anyone who isn’t completely aligned with your ideas as necessarily being opposed to all of your ideas. I reject that exclusivity. If you read my initial post, you will see that I actually gave a shout out to Hoffman; something that he rarely deserves. His simplistic thinking defines socialism as a political system that dictates from the central government. Far right fascist regimes are just as likely to dictate from the central government as well. He mistakenly conflates authoritarianism with socialism.

            The most egregious way that the conservative administration handcuffed parents was by separating children from their parents when they entered the country to seek asylum. The idea that somehow immigration law trumps the natural order is shameful.

            Unfortunately, conservatives have thrown significant hurdles for non heterosexual couples to adopt children as well. Anti-abortion bills are being passed that burden parents who don’t have the resources to bring another life into the world. Things you dismiss as woke affect parents and children everyday. Conservative politicians actually brag about harming families that they don’t agree with.

            I agree with both you and Trey that authoritarianism is a major threat to our individual freedoms. I just happen to see the threat coming from both ends of the political spectrum.

          • STF – clarifications and corrections to your reply below.

            1) I don’t reject all others’ ideas at all. I specifically address each false claim or hyperbole with fact and reasoning.

            2) Conservatives are fighting to keep our Constitutional republic, which is not a far right fascist regime as you suggest. Liberal / progressive doctrine is closely aligned with socialism, which has only “succeeded” by authoritarian methods. See Venezuela.

            3) Children were separated from their parents at the border during Trump under the same policy as Obama. The difference is that the Trump administration treated illegal entry as a law violation, which it is, requiring detention of the adult by US Marshals. HHS is tasked with care of children. Also, many single male illegals falsely claimed a child as their own to get different entry conditions. This all had nothing to do with “handcuffing” US citizen parents.

            4) Children do best with a mother and father. But I’m ok with gay adoption where a hetero couple is not an option, as the most important thing for a child is loving parents.

            5) Science has figured out how a child is conceived, and there are many ways to prevent it. Once conceived, someone’s subjective view of “enough money” is not a reason to end the baby’s life.

            6) There you go again. Please give examples of conservative politicians bragging about harming families they don’t agree with.

            Woke is social authoritarian rot. We need to come together to reclaim our rights, show respect for others, and see fellow citizens as Americans first and not a collection of check box characteristics.

          • 2 Cents – I would like to continue this discussion, but I fear that we will further bore others on this public forum. If you, or anyone else, would like to delve further into this or other topics, please email me at

            Thank you.

          • 2¢ – We are arguing two separate issues, and thus talking past one another. I argue that authoritarianism exists on both ends of the political spectrum. I agree with both you and Trey that left-wing authoritarian designs are readily apparent, but add that right wing authoritarianism is likewise upon us. I am NOT arguing that one end of the spectrum is worse than the other, although that would be an interesting argument for a future date.

            You continue to cite your disgust with left wing values that have become widespread in our culture through authoritarian and other means, and erroneously assume dualistically that anyone who questions the right is necessarily a proponent or apologist for the left. Therefore, your arguments are at best that authority promulgated by the right is relatively less destructive than that promulgated by the left, and at worst, is necessary because it is wielded in the service of combatting horrific immorality. Hence, every response you pin that mentions the left is superfluous to the current debate.

            I stand my contention that notwithstanding what any other group might do, right wing legislative agendas can also be very authoritarian in numerous ways, including limiting abortion rights, forbidding subject matter from being taught in public schools and universities, separating children from their asylum-seeking parents, and placing barriers for same-sex couples to adopt children. Many polls suggest that each of these examples are unpopular with the majority of the general population. Some may applaud these authoritarian measures as morally upstanding, but that does not change their authoritarian nature.

            The only point here is that authoritarianism is not the sole purview of any one ideological worldview.

  3. The federal government may be beyond the point of no return. There is no brake on the massive regulate and spend woke agenda.

    One example from last week: Biden signed another Executive Order that requires social justice “equity” in all federal departments – – Education, Defense, Transportation . . . everything. Each federal agency must create Equity Action Plans that hand out billions of our tax dollars to deliver “equitable outcomes” for “communities of color” and other so-called marginalized groups.

    Apparently the feds have abandoned the US ideal of equality of opportunity for each citizen.

    Biden’s “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” will spend billions of our tax dollars and create dozens of new preference programs for every check box group. Straight white males need not apply.

    “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

    Group-based equity of outcomes is anti-American, and it’s divisive.

    Go to to see for yourself the word salad of the woke goals and programs that are coming out of DC .