Monday, November 10, 2008

Executive Order or Diktat?

Rule by fiat in a democratic republic should strike everyone of every political stripe, Republican, Democrat, Independent, and Constitution as far more than just wrong. It is dangerous.

The danger is that rule by Executive Order bypasses the legislative branch and constraints and is not subject to judicial review. Executive Order was once a temporary expedient that has become a norm to power. There was a time not long ago when the campaign winning party did not take power or rule. A new administration was sworn to uphold the Constitution and administer the laws and institutions of the United States of America. When did taking power and ruling become the American way?

Sen. Barack Obama, not yet even President-elect until the Electoral College votes, has already declared he will 'rule' by Executive Order, by fiat, by decree, by diktat.

President-elect Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.

John Podesta, Obama's transition chief, said Sunday Obama is reviewing President Bush's executive orders on those issues and others as he works to undo policies enacted during eight years of Republican rule. He said the president can use such orders to move quickly on his own.

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," Podesta said. "I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set."
Many more people than a single Republican congressman have expressed concern over the willingness of Obama and his transition team to resort to fiat first over any attempt to work through the normal and correct avenues of representative democracy. Some have expressed concern about the establishment of a civilian security force, a name familiar to Cubans, that will do something unspecified and a new kind of court system to try the inmates of Guantanamo. But when they are all tried, then what happens to the new expensive and complex new justice system?

A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
Executive Order has always bothered and worried me and it should all freedom loving people. The EO gives a President of a free nation the power to do just about anything they want to do with very little, if anything, standing in their way. Barack Obama would go a long way in allaying my fears by bringing change to Executive Orders. He could start by not starting his administration with that tool. Also, by proposing a time limit of, say, six months after which the EO must be reviewed and voted upon by both Houses of Congress to either continue or stop the order.

Rule by Executive Order is not democratic, not fair, not change I can live with.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Mike H. said...

"When did taking power and ruling become the American way?"

Short and sweet answer, the coronation took place with the enthroning of JFK in Camelot, it was pursued by LBJ in that same Camelot and and showed what can happen to Camelot when R.M. Nixon was sworn in. From then on it has been a fight over who will be the pretender to the throne. At least on one side.

I'll bet that you didn't know that?

Mike H. said...

BTW, IR, not being snide, just jocular, so don't beat me up too bad.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to make a few observations.

First, I'm not sure about the philosophical integrity in touting the Constitution right before questioning the right of the President to issue Executive Orders ("EOs"). The Supreme Court in 1981 upheld the constitutionality of EOs. So an argument against EOs probably ought not to rest on the question of constitutionality, as the judicial branch has already issued an affirmative decision.

Second, EOs do not give the President "power to do just about anything they want to do with very little, if anything, standing in their way." The Constitution allows for EOs to be overturned by either of the other two branches of government: by the Congress via legislative veto and by the judiciary via a lawsuit.

Last, it is worth noting that Podesta has not suggested that the President-elect is considering the use of his executive powers for anything other than addressing EOs issued by the current President. The policies shaped by one President by EO may surely be changed or eliminated by EO of a subsequent President, no?

Indigo Red said...

SCOTUS was wrong in 1981 and I, as anyone else, have that natural right to criticize and disaree with all or any part on the government. Just because the SCOTUS has said one thing doesn't ipso facto make it constituional, for example, Dred Scott.

Also, no where did I imply that EOs are unconstitutional. I'm suggesting that Presidents are relying more often on EOs bypassing Congress in the near past than in years farther past. That makes me uncomfortable and concerned for the form of government the Founders gave us.