The presidential oath of office requires belief in and defense of the Constitution. Yet this president may have had one hand on the Bible while the fingers of his other hand are crossed behind his back.
Frustrated by a divided government — and a divided people — President Obama repeatedly chooses the “expediency” of ignoring the Constitution.
Consider his actions in his first term of office:
He granted waivers that exempted 4 million political friends from Obamacare.
He gutted welfare-to-work rules by executive fiat when those rules reflected existing law supported by citizens across the political spectrum.
He granted waivers to 33 states allowing them to ignore the No Child Left Behind Act.
He granted waivers to 1.5 million illegal immigrants from existing law.
Now, he has proposed 23 executive actions designed to limit the Second Amendment right to own guns. Despite the fact that legislation has been offered, these executive orders are one more attempt to bypass Congress and ignore a fundamental meaning — and guarantee of rights — under our Constitution.
Winning 52 percent of the popular vote for his second term does not license the president to decide which laws will be enforced under the Constitution and which citizens are subject to the rule of law. Please take note, Mr. President: Even if you had won 99 percent of the vote, such a real “mandate” would not allow you to ignore the Constitution.
The Founding Fathers wisely recognized that all governments, no matter how nobly conceived, inevitably try to take more power and restrict liberty. They designed a messy, frustrating and all-but-inefficient division of powers between the three branches of the federal government as well as between our national government and state governments, precisely so that citizens would retain the upper hand in decision-making and self-determination.
We have seen the whole concept of self-determination by majority rule eroded by legislative hook-and-crook and a callous disregard of the “messy” concept of consent of the governed. Enactment of Obamacare, the “signature issue” of his first term, was a bald-faced assault on the majority of citizens who objected to this legislation. To then grant 4 million citizens (mostly union supporters) waivers for the program turned the whole concept of the rule of law applying equally to all on its head.
For Mr. Obama, a Harvard-trained constitutional scholar, to initially insist that the Commerce Clause could require Obamacare participation as a condition of citizenship tells us that he knows what he is doing is wrong. His overweening belief in his own destiny and importance has eclipsed his commitment to the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.
This is not the first time in our history that a president who believes he has a vision of a better America has had to deal with a Congress that disagreed. Ronald Reagan had to work with a highly partisan speaker of the House in Tip O’Neill. Strength of character, persuasion, relationship-building, sometimes strong-arm tactics and, certainly, compromise allowed him to successfully lead a divided government and make fundamental changes supported by the people he always understood he served.
Not so this president. He makes “recess” appointments when the Senate is in session. He issues executive orders that neutralize the substance and the clear meaning of existing federal laws. Moreover, he exempts some citizens from laws that should apply, for better or worse, to every citizen. These are not the actions of an American president. Americans must demand a return to the Constitution and the rule of law.
Ken Hoagland is chairman of Restore America’s Voice.