President Obama made a bizarre and embarrassingly inaccurate statement last week during an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, as pointed out by Michael Miller of IJ Review online yesterday.
Stating that distrust in the government started in the 1980's under the late President Ronald Reagan, Obama said in part,
“We've had a politics, frankly, you know, the entire Republican Party brand since Ronald Reagan has been ‘government’s the problem.’ And if you, day after day, week after week, election after election, are running on that platform and that permeates our culture and it’s picked up by, you know, ordinary citizens who grow skeptical, then it’s not surprising that over time, trust in government declines.”
President Obama, "Constitutional scholar," clearly forgets that America's founding fathers developed a system of "checks and balances," or "separation of powers," not for the purposes of irritating lawmakers, but rather to ensure that no branch of the federal government, including the executive branch, would become too powerful. The idea of "self-governance" was always that the people held the power, and not the other way around.
Put simply, America's political system evolved around a fundamental distrust in the nature of the government, which was the whole point of the separation of powers. This fact is apparent to anyone who bothers to read the actual words of the founders.
Would a brave journalist ever dare to ask President Obama what the point was of "checks and balances?"
A good place to learn about the founder's vision would be the Federalist Papers, which almost obsess over how America should limit the power of the federal government.
Consider a quote from James Madison, a founding father and America's fourth President:
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined."
Madison said that the power of the federal government will be
"exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected."
The states, rather than the federal government, were to hold more power than the federal government.
Madison also stated,
"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow."
History repeats itself, and America has strayed far, far away from the founders' vision.
The words that offended President Obama were declared during President Reagan's inaugural address on January 20, 1981.
In part, Reagan said,
"From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price."
President Obama's statement may appeal to those who are wholly unaware of the history of the founding of America.
Obama's assertion that distrust in the government is Ronald Reagan's fault is not only historically inaccurate, it is offensive, and it's offensiveness is magnified because President Obama has pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States, a pledge that he has disregarded repeatedly.
In August, for example, Obama tweeted that healthcare is a "right," which is evidently granted to Americans by the government and flies in the face of the Declaration of Independence, which clearly states in part,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
President Obama said,
"Health insurance isn’t a privilege—it is your right. And we’re going to keep it that way." —President Obama: http://t.co/NTsJspNw2c
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 17, 2013
If health insurance was a "right," then wouldn't it make sense that more pressing needs would be rights, as well? Are food, housing, and clothing considered to be "rights"? Are these rights guaranteed by the government?
Another example was reported at Liberty Unyielding last month. President Obama tweeted the following phrase: "If you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should pass."
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 22, 2013
In that phrase, Obama was justifying the invocation of the "nuclear option," which allows the president to push his nominations through with a simple majority rather than the centuries-old tradition of requiring 60 votes in the senate.
But in 2005, President Obama said,
“I recognize that the filibuster can be used for unfortunate purposes. However, I am also aware that the Founding Fathers established the filibuster as a means of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority — and that protection, with some changes, has been in place for over 200 years.” [added emphasis]
In 2005, Senate Majority Harry Reid said that invoking the nuclear option would “ruin the country.”
Yet despite their passionately spoken words at the time, President Obama and Harry Reid justified tearing down the filibuster rule in 2013, with little resistance by the minority party.