On November 4, 2014, the nation spoke out loudly, both in taking action by casting votes and also by the sheer numbers failing to do so. On November 19, 2014, polls revealed that the voice of America was again clear, if politicians would listen. But on November 20, 2014 President Obama just went his own way.
The result of the 2014 mid-term elections was 2-fold. First it was a clear repudiation of the Democrat message, as seen in the loss of the Democrat held Senate. Secondly, it was a statement in the loss of confidence in Government as a whole, as seen in the fact that some 7 out of 10 voters failed to cast a vote. Many saw this as a cry for change in how Government is currently being run.
President Obama was not one of those seeing the mid-term elections as a call to action in opposition of his agenda. The President quickly and decisively doubled-down on his summer promise to act unilaterally on immigration reform. Even as Vice President Biden opened the door to a bipartisan path to immigration reform via the Congress, President Obama killed the option,
“…Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off…”
The nation as a whole took notice. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released on 11/19 revealed that 48% are opposed to the unilateral Executive Order that President Obama was planning to implement. Only 38% of the poll showed support for such action.
Keep in mind that the White House itself suggested that taking this action would likely cause a call for impeachment of the President. Whether or not that also took into account the possible public backlash is unknown. But the delay until after the November elections seems to hint that the Obama Administration knew that voters would be even less favorable to Democrats if they had the option to voice their opinion at the election booth.
Thus, late on November 20th, President Obama finally revealed the sweeping changes. With the signing of the Executive Order, President Obama made a change in law affecting an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants. As promised, the ire of the Republican Party was unleashed. What the result of this animosity will be is currently unknown as the timing of the Executive Order was directly calculated to coincide with the Thanksgiving break of Congress.
Reaction on the public front has not paused though. One of the most notable reactions came from the stinging satire of Saturday Night Live. The comedy sketch program has often targeted Presidents currently in charge, and President Obama was lambasted for his abuse of Executive Power.
[See attached video]
Pundits also reacted to the Executive Order. Most highlighted the political impact facing the Republican Party. Few doubted that come 2015, President Obama was likely to face a flurry of action to dismantle the step he has taken with Obamacare, Immigration Reform, gun restrictions and Middle East policy. Impeachment is also on the table, moreso now than at any point previously due to the slap in the face of the power of Congress.
But the real question is not the immigration Executive Order. As much as some may like it, and even as immigration reform advocates demand more action, the real question is what this means for the power of the presidency. What will be the ramification for the president in 2016 and beyond?
Imagine a President enacting a de facto law requiring millions, perhaps tens of millions, to lose their citizenship because they fail to comply with Obamacare? What if the President creates an Executive Order requiring educators ban certain books and curriculum? What if a President, via Executive Order, commands people in certain States, or of certain ethnic or religious backgrounds, to register their whereabouts with the Government at all times.
Outlandish concerns of course. But President Obama has opened a door of precedence. If a President can, without Congress, invalidate law as it exists and in effect create new law they like then what is the limit to the power of the Presidency? Why couldn’t a President in the future command swaths of the nation to register – much like Jews and gays had to in German under the National Socialist Party? Why can’t a President dole out Executive Orders for the benefit of a few based solely on their preference and the potential political benefit it may bring to their Party? It is a chilling prospect.
The path that President Obama has placed the nation on is a path to autocratic rule. It obliviates the power of the Congress. The manner in which it was done nullifies the power of the vote – no matter how many actually vote. It is perhaps the most blatant and potentially insidious overreach of power in modern history of our nation.
Of course President Obama has downplayed these possibilities. He is currently travelling the nation promoting his usurping of the power of Congress with the statement that Congress simply needs to pass a Bill.
“Well, my response is pass a bill. Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues and there are some things that I can’t do on my own.” – President Obama, 11/21/14
If Congress passes a law on immigration reform it will supersede his Executive Order. Except he has left out the fact that he also holds the power to veto a law passed by Congress.
What if, in 2015, under a Republican controlled House of Representatives and Senate, an immigration bill is passed that unravels the Executive Order now in place. A Bill that eliminates the amnesty granted to those who have willfully actively broken and evaded consequences of the law. A Bill that removes the potential for a path to citizenship. Or even if the Bill only contains parts of changes to immigration reform as President Obama would like it. Would President Obama sign that Bill? Based on his current stance, it is unlikely.
Thus President Obama would be able to reign over the Congress. In effect he would reign over the public. Once that domino has fallen, what other all encompassing power could additional Executive Orders bring? Of course there is the power for Congress to overrule a veto, but that would require support of Democrats. Democrats that would be weakening their head of the Party. Democrats that could well help to weaken their own Party’s future political power Not a situation to bet even money on.
The problems only multiply and get worse. There is the option of the courts, but that takes time. There is the Supreme Court, but again there is the question of time and who knows who will be on the Court at that time and what they might render. If the Supreme Court even took the case up.
This is a dangerous road that has been enacted. While it is highly unlikely to be as dark and oppressive as we have just suggested, that is only at this moment. What will happen in the next election, or the one after that? What happens in 20 years? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that is a saying that has been proven time and again in every Government in the world since Governments began. The danger of autocracy is now more likely than possibly at any other time in the history of the nation.
President Obama has overstepped in a way his predecessors have never done. In a manner that Senator Obama would have railed against as publicly as possible. Senator Obama would be right as well. But President Obama is using whatever popularity he has left to spin the politics he is wielding as a well intentioned road paved to… well you know that saying as well.
Republican do need to act on immigration reform. Whether that is in 2014 or 2015, it must be an immediate correction to the overreach of power currently being wielded by the White House. Further, for the sake of the nation, President Obama must be rebuked. A message must be sent for all future Presidents that this usurping of equal branches of the Government will not be allowed. Finally, the power of the public must be preserved, and political manipulations meant to skirt the voters must be shown for what they are. If not, the future kings of America will trace their lineage back to President Obama.