I hate to say it. But it’s true. No matter who wins the presidential election in the fall, the Constitution is screwed.
If Hillary Clinton wins, she will take this as an endorsement of Obama’s presidency, and an invitation to expand it. Hillary’s first term will be Obama’s third term. In his term of office, Obama brazenly defied Constitutional requirements to change immigration laws, enforce the Obamacare law he initially supported, and to wait for Congress to change environmental laws before authorizing the EPA to initiate new regulation.
If she wins, Hillary has already hinted that she will take steps to confiscate guns, and continue to enforce immigration policies she likes (regardless of the law), since this serves her own political interests, even if not upholding the law.
Donald Trump is supposed to be the Hillary Clinton alternative. But here’s what Donald Trump is saying:
On Meet the Press, Trump was asked whether he would rely on executive action in the manner of President Obama. “I won’t refuse it. I’m going to do a lot of things,” Trump replied. “I mean, [President Obama] led the way, to be honest with you,” he added. But rest assured, Trump noted, “I’m going to use [executive actions] much better and they’re going to serve a much better purpose than he’s done.”
In other words, Donald Trump does not think Obama was wrong to bypass Congress and existing law to do whatever he felt like. He would only do so for different reasons. What will Donald Trump do with the unlimited executive power he believes that Obama legitimately holds, and he hopes to seize as well? Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose policies are well knwon, we have no idea. We can only assume that he will use executive power whenever he feels like it, regardless of the law. Just like Obama did.
Consider the latest flap over transgender bathrooms in public schools. Obama issued this order because he could. It’s nothing more or less than a power trip, power for its own sake. He could not care less about Congress, nor the students and parents who disagree with this bill, not only because of disgust over transgender persons, but simply because they don’t want sexual predators to take advantage of it. It’s doubtful Obama cares anything at all about transgender persons. It’s simple power lust, the political equivalent of giving the finger to people he does not like.
If Obama was justified in using executive orders to implement transgender bathrooms, and to turn health care or immigration laws on and off to suit his whims of the moment, then how can Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump be denied the same authority? In fact, either one can be expected to take it even further. Both Trump and Clinton are making it crystal clear they will even go further in the use of executive action. After a couple of years, we might actually be yearning for Obama — even those of us who can’t stand him. If that isn’t a frightening prospect, I don’t know what is.
I know that Trump supporters will cite his support for the Second Amendment and other legitimate individual rights about which both Obama and Hillary Clinton simply sneer. Fair enough. But if Donald Trump feels a president (himself, Obama or anyone) can issue arbitrary executive edicts without Constitutional authority, then what does this mean for his support of the Constitution in other contexts? Doesn’t defiance of the Constitution in one area obliterate the significance of its defense in another? What do the First or Second Amendment even matter if the president may override them, when and if he or she feels like it?
America was supposed to be “a government of laws, not of men,” according to John Adams when talking of the Massachusetts Constitution, a model for the later U.S. Constitution. It seems that that in 2016 and beyond, the Constitution is far less important than the man — or woman — we put in charge of issuing orders for the whole government and the entire population. That’s not a republic; and it’s not even a democracy.
It’s a dictatorship.
Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1