THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY
By Granite Prepper
So, in all my years on this planet, and as a citizen of These United States, I was under the impression that the President of the United States was the head of the executive branch, ONE of THREE co-equal branches of the national government. As head of the executive branch, the President executes the law but does not legislate; the President’s legislative power is limited to approving or disapproving bills passed by Congress. I was also lead to believe, through my publicly-funded education, kings and emperors….a creation founded in feudal and pre-feudal times……are sovereign leaders of a nation that are revered as THE government of their country; in other words there are no other co-equal branches, there is no voting choice or change at the ballot box and these monarchs and their families are call the royal family and special honors are accorded them. Finally, I assumed that my duly elected representatives in Congress….another co-equal branch called the legislative branch….not only were representing their constituents but were capable of providing the check and balance to the executive as was the intention of the founding fathers. Alas, such is not the case…..I have been misled, hoodwinked, led down the primrose path, lied to!! This does not make me happy….as Marvin The Martian said on Bugs Bunny….”I am most unhappy indeed!” Let me further present my case and at the end possibly lay out a path of corrective measures.
It appears the executive branch has discovered a loophole to co-opt the power from the legislative branch that also helps to insulate it from judicial review by the courts…..executive orders. According to the George Washington Law Review in 1987…”In this era of the Imperial Presidency, executive orders have become an important weapon in the arsenal of presidential policymaking. Because executive orders do not need congressional approval, they enable the President to bypass parliamentary debate and opposition. Historically, most executive orders have related to routine administrative matters and to the internal affairs and organization of the federal bureaucracy. Since the 1930s, however, executive orders have assumed an ever-increasing legislative character, directly affecting the rights and duties of private parties as well as those of governmental officials. Scholars have referred to this recent use of executive order as presidential privilege or government by executive order.” Also, as Galen Steele wrote in Strategic Factors Influencing the Issuance and Duration of Executive Orders….”A president’s unilateral actions are potentially reviewable by the Supreme Court and when an executive order is legally challenged the president’s policy may be exposed. However, unlike Congress, the Court cannot proactively initiate challenges to the executive order or presidential policy….a challenge must be brought by a third party with legal standing.” This simply means only someone determined to have a legal right or valid position, as determined by a judge or judges, to argue restitution or adjudication may do so in seeking redress for or revocation of an existing executive order. So, in short, what he have is the glorious leader decreeing things like governmental/executive solutions to global warming/cooling/climate change, drone strikes on us citizens(both foreign and domestic), national/international cyber-security, healthy housing, etc., pre-empting or circumventing the legislative branch’s power to write law and then relying on a judicial system that has been so dramatically co-opted from the founders intent to nip any challenge in the bud…..because, after all, if a judge gets to make final determination on standing what true recourse is there?? That is also assuming the general populace is paying enough attention between episodes of Survivor and American Idol to actually give a crap! Finally, this is the perfect indicator of how corrupt and constitutionally destructive our two-party system has become. The party in power works through-out all three branches of government, in a supposed BIPARTISAN FASHION/MANNER, with the loyal opposition to ensure all power is centralized with the national government…..please stop using the term federal as it is an affront to the true meaning of the word federalism…..and has over-ridden most, if not all, checks and balances to the contrary. Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt’s goal and implementation of the 17th Amendment….direct election of US Senators by the people….ensured the destruction of state representation in our national government and, almost single-handedly, allowed for the promulgation and extensive use of dictatorial powers by the executive branch.
However, let’s not just blame this on the current administration. As the George Washington Law Review said, this usurpation of power has been gaining strength since the 1930s….and democrats haven’t held the exclusive rights or keys to the Oval Office during that time. Franklin Delano Roosevelt(FDR) issued a total of 3,728 executive orders throughout his administration from 1933 to 1945 with 573 of those coming in 1933 alone. Ronald Reagan signed 380 executive orders into law, George H.W. Bush issued 165 executive orders, Bill Clinton ushered in 363, George W. Bush created 291 of the abominations in his eight years in office and Barrack Obama has signed 147 executive orders into law in his first four years…..but he’s got another four to go so the sky’s the limit! FDR created EO 9066 and 9102(1942)….the Japanese-American Internment(without benefit of legal recourse). JFK created EO 10988(1962)….allowing for federal workers to join unions and collectively bargain. Richard Nixon added EO 11490(1969)…assigning emergency preparedness functions to federal departments and agencies. Gerald Ford signed EO 11921(1976)…..allowing the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency(the precursor to FEMA) to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production, distribution, energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money. Jimmy Carter in 1979 signed EO 12148 to create FEMA. Bill Clinton penned EO 12898(1994) for federal actions to address environmental justice in minority populations and low-income populations. GW Bush incorporated EO 13284(2002) to create the Department of Homeland Security and Barrack Obama just signed EO 13636(2013) improving critical infrastructure cyber security. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that no Constitutional provision or statue explicitly permits executive orders. Article II, section 1, clause 1 vaguely grants the President “executive power.” But section 3, clause 5 instructs the self-same President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
So let’s go back to the beginning and remember what an emperor or king is…..a sovereign leader viewed upon as THE government and to whom special privileges are granted…..does that sound like the office of the Imperial Presidency today?? A plane to fly in to where-ever chosen, vacations to places most of use will only dream of….and at least partially tax-payer financed if not in total and armed security for family while our own are left at the mercy of a gun-free zone. This also coupled with the ability to rule by Imperial decree….based solely on whatever ideology his majesty adheres to and with no deference to the desires of the people. Please don’t kid yourself that our current two-party system gives voice to your views….this happens neither in elections nor calls to our representatives as elections come down now to who has the most money to run and the lesser of two evils in all but the most rare occasions and even then absolute power corrupts so absolutely that those “good folks” we elect and send to Washington D.C. fail to pay heed to the mandate given them by their electorate…..does 2010 ring any bells??
It appears we’re left with the question of what to do because as conservative activist Howard J. Ruff opined “Since the enactment of EO 11490, the only thing standing between us and dictatorship is the good character of the President, and the lack of a crisis sever enough that the public would stand for it.” I think we all now question the character of Richard Nixon when he signed that EO in 1969 and I for one stand in question of our current President’s character….not to mention we are entering the days when crisis after crisis will appear and allow Rahm Emanuel’s faithful view of “Never allowing a good crisis to go to waste” to be realized. Harold Martin, a sound writer, in 1995 said “When the Constitution of the US was framed it placed the exclusive legislative authority in the hands of Congress and the President. Article I, section 1 of the document is concise in its language that all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the US, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. That is no longer true. The Bill of Rights protected Americans against loss of freedoms. That is no longer true. The Constitution provided for a balanced separation of powers. That is no longer applicable.” As I’ve said before the power rests with us…the people of These United States. We must get up from the couch, put down the remote and the potato chips and enter the fray….before the crisis finds us unprepared. To this end I propose the following:
- Grassroots Activism: In past articles I spoke of getting to know your local community and forging bonds with like-minded individuals…..hopefully you’ve started that because if not we are behind the power curve! It is now time to put that theoretical venture into practice. Get together with friends, family and your new-found adherents and start looking at ways to impact your community….visit and don’t sit quietly at school board or city council meetings…..make your voice heard.
- Work Outside of the Two-Party System: The current system reeks of corruption because it has become a self-perpetuating machine. We must break that strangle-hold and spit ourselves out of the system….as Glenn Beck advocates often. We must push for something new and innovative….and my answer to your new question is I don’t know what that is as of yet! I only know that what we have is broken beyond repair and must be scrapped. However, to do that we must have a grass-roots level movement that builds to a national momentum….and we must do it now/today!
- Continue to Work from Within the System: I know this sounds contradictory….but hear me out. Van Jones, the former Green Jobs Czar for the Obama Administration, talks about top down, bottom up and inside out movements…..that is what we must do. We must start at the local level(the bottom up), we must work from the top down(working from inside the existing system) and we must turn the machine completely inside out by envisioning and implementing something bold and new. WE must work in the system by pressuring Congress to rewrite or amend previous laws to obviate existing executive orders. This won’t be easy based on the divided Congress, the penchant for even conservatives to protect their power and knowing a veto from the President awaits any legislation that makes it out of the halls of Congress. However, by constant pressure and working to get people in who WILL fight the good fight we can overturn any veto; this requires constant vigilance on our parts because we run the risk of 2010 again if we aren’t. Next, we must push for nullification….at both the national and state level. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is making a strong push to nullify the President’s executive action on gun control, but we need to work at the state level to push for equal nullification; this will start to sway power away from the national and return it to the state. This is a good example of the confluence of actions in working the bottom up, top down and inside out strategy. Finally, we must push for a Constitutional Convention to repeal the 17th Amendment….this move alone will severely limit executive orders by returning the national legislative body to its bicameral foundings and restoring the power of the state as a check to the power of the executive and the people; as was intended. I realize to initiate a Constitutional Convention opens the document to challenge at all levels but radical times require radical solutions/actions; but hey while we’re restoring state power we can nip that pesky 16th Amendment as well; without all those tax dollars the national government will whither up quite nicely just as the witch did in the Wizard of Oz.
As stated, radical times require radical solutions and I don’t trust our Imperial President’s character in this time of crisis…..do YOU?? We must all determine how best of serve.