As we head into 2015, it’s worth hoping that some force of God or man can lead our president back to the comfy confines of reasonable governance. Perhaps satisfied with having successfully fended off the challenge of Mitt Romney, Barack Obama decided that he would abdicate his constitutional responsibilities in 2014 in favor of golf, scandal, and executive decree. In a presidency that has been filled with missteps, 2014 stands out as the worst yet. The only question is: will the slide continue?
The IRS scandal, the Bowe Bergdahl trade, the Cuban diplomacy, the climate deal with China, and the unfortunate way Obama addressed Ebola were among the lowlights, but nothing came close to matching his disregard for the Constitution.
Hail King Obama
Let’s look at his executive action on immigration. No longer willing to stand by and wait for the (deliberately, by design) slow progress of Congress, Obama decided to make law from the Oval Office. Frustrated by Republicans in the House of Representatives, he declared amnesty by fiat following the (disastrous, for Democrats) midterm elections.
In the form of an executive action, Obama announced a path to legalization for as many as 5 million illegal aliens. Putting aside the detrimental effects of the action – which are many – the biggest problem with the president’s immigration reform was the disregard for the constitutional limits on his power. He got together with a bunch of lawyers, and he found a way to do it so that he couldn’t be thwarted by anything so petty as, say, the law of the land.
In doing so, he opened a dangerous door. Our Constitution wisely diverted the federal government’s power into three separate branches. Each branch has the power to limit the authority of the others. It was a genius move, and it has been largely responsible for the success of the United States. Obama isn’t the first president to exceed his constitutional authority, but he may be the boldest. And if his immigration action is not struck down by either Congress or the Supreme Court, it will set a very unfortunate precedent.
Power has been gradually shifting to the executive branch for nearly the entire history of the U.S. But that’s not a reason to stand by idly and watch it happen. The Republican Congress needs to stand up in 2015 and take their power back. Not just when it comes to immigration, either. Obama has exceeded his executive authority when it comes to healthcare, foreign relations, war, and now immigration. In doing so, he has set the country on a path where we’re vulnerable to tyranny.
History looks favorably upon strong presidents, but there’s a big difference between being a strong leader and crowning yourself king. In 2014, Obama crossed that line. In 2015, our lawmakers need to relieve him of his crown.