Written on Friday, March 21, 2014 by David L. Goetsch
President Obama is breaking all precedents in steamrolling a complacent Congress as he governs by executive orders. With Obama, we the people has been replaced by me the president. In recent speeches, the president has been forthright in saying that in every case where he can act without Congress he will do so. Not only is this an extraordinary statement coming from a man who is supposed to have been a professor of Constitutional law, it shows a dangerous disregard for government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Ever since the U.S. Constitution was established as the law of the land, there has been tension—some would say power struggles—between the executive and legislative branches of government. In fact, this tension is a necessary part of the checks and balances our Founders put in place to ensure that each branch of government plays its assigned role without encroaching on the prerogatives of the other branches. If the president gains too much of the upper hand over Congress, the voice of the people is replaced by the voice of just one person: the president. If Congress gains too much of the upper hand over the executive branch, we have government by committee, and nothing gets done. Consequently, it is important to maintain the proper Constitutionally-prescribed balance between the executive and legislative branches of government.
Barack Obama knows this. He probably taught the concept when he was moonlighting as a professor of law. But knowing about a concept and complying with it are two very different things. In President Obama’s defense, working with Congress can be a frustrating experience. Congress can be ponderous, self-protective, parochial, self-serving, and excruciatingly slow to act. It is governance by committee with all of the shortcomings inherent in that concept. President Obama is hardly the first person to be elected president only to find that his hands are often tied by an unresponsive Congress. I am sure that many of his predecessors would have loved to simply by-pass Congress and—like him—govern by executive order. But most had the good sense to understand that governing by executive order is one of those concepts where the solution is worse than the problem.
When the President of the United States by-passes Congress by issuing executive orders or by using the regulatory process—things Barack Obama does frequently—he undermines the concept of we the people that is the foundation of our form of government and of the freedoms Americans have traditionally enjoyed. Congress, with all of its warts and blemishes, is still composed of the representatives of the people. By-passing the elected representatives of the people is the same as by-passing the people. Rulers who by-pass the people are dictators, kings, and often tyrants, but they are not presidents. Barack Obama was elected president, not dictator nor king, but by governing through executive orders and bureaucratic regulations, he is behaving like one or the other, or both.
One measure of an effective president is that he understands the governing process and is sufficiently adept politically that he can work with Congress to implement his programs and make good on his campaign promises. Some presidents have had the political skills to accomplish this and some have not. Barack Obama falls into the latter category, but where he differs from his predecessors is that he has made no effort to learn the way Congress and Washington, D. C. work. Rather, if he cannot get what he wants when he wants it—regardless of whether the American people want it—he simply by-passes Congress using executive orders or bureaucratic regulations. What makes this tyrannical situation especially dangerous is that at a time when our country has a president who thinks he is a king, we also have a weak, complacent Congress that lacks the fortitude to stand up to him. As a result, government of the people, by the people, and for the people has been replaced by government of the president, by the president, and for the president.