The time has come for the Democrat Party, particular those in the Senate, to make a vital decision: Do their loyalties rest with the Constitution, or with Barack Obama?
Throughout the current administration’s tenure in office, the White House’s lack of respect for the law, and indeed, the constitution itself, has been blatant. It began with the refusal to prosecute a clear case of voter intimidation in the 2008 election, proceeded to the harassment of political opponents by the IRS, and was magnified by the practice of only enforcing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that were politically expedient. It has been evident in matters such as the release of the Taliban 5, an open violation of 22 US Code Section 2371 (assistance to terrorist organizations) Section 8111 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (prohibiting the use of funds for the release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners) and Section 1035 of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (requiring notification to Congress before Guantanamo prisoner release.) It is manifest in the Administration’s failure to enforce portions of the law pertaining to illegal immigration.
Guarantees not seriously questioned since the enactment of the Constitution, such as freedom of speech, have been subjected to a number of body-blows during the Obama years. The recent attempt to place federal monitors in newsrooms is a salient example. The EPA’s wholesale assault on property rights is yet another.
These are not disputes about policy issues. They are descriptions of criminal violations of the law and a clear disregard of constitutional mandates. Nor are they the unfortunately typical abuses of the rough and tumble practice of politics, where hard-nosed elected officials seek to extract retribution on individual opponents. Other presidents have, at times, violated the law and engaged in constitutionally questionable acts (Richard Nixon comes readily to mind.) But throughout the annals of American history, no chief executive has done so as systematically, openly, intentionally, repeatedly and in areas so vital and substantial as Mr. Obama. Indeed, this President has made his disregard for Constitutional restrictions on his authority clear in a number
Several presidents have illegally used federal agencies to harass individuals whom they tangle with. But none of Mr. Obama’s predecessors have ever engaged in the large-scale assault on an entire political movement the way the current White House has, in a manner more befitting of a dictatorship than a democracy.
Almost every President has been annoyed at Congress when there have been disagreements between the two branches of government. And there have been many incidents when past presidents, through executive orders or otherwise, have sought to accomplish some goals inappropriately. Never before, however, has any president openly and brazenly defied the entire constitutional scheme of checks and balances the way this president has.
The contempt has been evident in Mr. Obama’s statements such as “I can’t wait for Congress to act” and “I’ve got a pen and a phone” that he intends to use to further his agenda even if he does not obtain constitutionally-mandated Congressional approval for it.
This battle for the soul of the nation is often mistaken as disagreements over individual issues. Far too many of those favoring the President’s agenda in spending, foreign policy, healthcare or the environment look the other way as he achieves his goals by governing in methods that openly violate the Constitution.
That is a dangerous path. Once the Constitution has been relegated to a mere suggestion that is secondary to the will of the president, the protections it has provided for centuries will be endangered forever, and could well become permanently lost. Other nations, including those clearly tyrannical, have constitutions providing rights, and those rights are utterly ignored.
The difference in America has always been that, despite our political differences or disagreements over specific policies, we have always held Constitutional provisions and Constitutional rights sacrosanct, above the fray of political fighting. As a people, we have, in the past, realized that no one issue or set of issues or even loyalty to a political party or to a president is worth jeopardizing the Constitution. Sadly, that appears to have changed.
In our adversarial governing system, it is expected that the opposition party or the legislative branch would check the power of the presidency. But in the poisonous environment of today’s Washington, GOP objections are portrayed by a heavily biased media merely as partisan arguing, and the Senate is led by those who are more loyal to this president than to the Constitution.
Piece by piece, the foundation of constitutional government is being replaced by the mere will of the president. Republican attempts to thwart the unlawful exercise in power grabbing by Mr. Obama will always be viewed as political wrangling. It is, therefore, up to Democrats, particularly those in the Senate, to make the painful decision to demonstrate loyalty to the Constitution by rejecting the President’s attempts to eviscerate the document that has guaranteed American freedom for so long, and begin the painful process of restoring that Constitution by bringing this president to justice.