Since World War One, presidents have amassed far more arbitrary power to rule by decree. Every recent American commander-in-chief has expanded and exploited the dictatorial potential of the presidency. Yet, because elections continue to be regularly held, most Americans do not think of the nation's chief executive as a despot.
For generations, American politicians spoke reverently of the Constitution as America's highest law. In the 1800s, presidential candidates would compete by attesting their fidelity to the nation's founding document. But in recent years, the Constitution has fallen into disrespect. The rule of law now means little more than the enforcement of the secret memos of the commander-in-chief.