The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution with the powers of government divided between the president, the Congress, and the courts and they did so for a reason — to limit the action of government unless there was a social consensus about that action. The founders were worried about dictatorship and the ways that government can limit freedom.
Last week President Obama, a former teacher of constitutional law, effectively announced that he would ignore the spirit of the Constitution. Because he was unable to get an agreement with Congress, he is willing to use executive power to implement laws that Congress will not support.
A good leader does not only have good ideas but he is able to convince his political adversaries that these ideas are good. Mr. Obama has decided he is no longer willing to work with Congress and the opposition party to pass legislation. He is no longer willing to compromise. He will go and implement laws without convincing a majority of the Congress that it is the right thing to do. This is in clear violation of our Constitution.
Mr. Obama may have good intentions in implementing by executive order certain changes in American law. Unfortunately a dictatorship with good intentions is still a dictatorship. Dictators think they know what’s best for the individuals and ignore the will of the people. We as Americans can expect to see our freedom drastically erode if Congress and the Supreme Court do not rein this president in.
The president all but ignored foreign policy in his State of the Union speech. He did not present a defense of his proposed treaty with Iran, which does not have much support in Congress. He did not address Egypt or Syria. His position on Guantanamo Bay sounded like a broken record from six years ago. He threatened to veto sanctions approved by Congress on Iran.
It is unfortunate that there is nothing new in the president’s agenda for 2014. His speech was wrapped in the worn-out rhetoric of class warfare and populism and of reducing income inequality through redistributive means, such as a higher minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits. These do not improve the structural growth of middle-class wage earners. All they do is reduce the number of available jobs and increase unemployment.
There is no meaningful discussion of reforming Obamacare to make it a viable health-care system that provides “affordable” and quality health care to Americans. There are no new ideas or proposed compromises on immigration to bring about true reform. There is no meaningful discussion of tax reform or energy policies to improve our economy.
Other than lip service about speeding up the country’s economic recovery. there is nothing substantive that a practical economist could say will actually achieve the goals set out in the president’s rhetoric.
The Democratic Party now realizes that the president has placed his personal ego above a viable party platform that could help Democrats in the November elections. The Senate is now in play for Republicans which requires only six seats to gain control. Many of the Democratic senators with their seats in jeopardy need air cover. In particular they need a quick reform to solve the health-care mess created by the president’s signature reform and the agenda Mr. Obama proposes does not help the cause of Democratic senators in red states.
Ultimately, we can sit around and complain about a multitude of the insufficiencies for the next two years, or we can take action and hold our president, our representatives, and most importantly ourselves accountable as ever so fundamentally We The People, not the executive or legislative, have the final say so over our outcome.
• Armstrong Williams is the author of the book “Reawakening Virtues.” Join him from 4-5 a.m. and 6-7 p.m. daily on Sirius/XM Power 128. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.