We have a significant problem on our hands. A constitutional law adjunct professor has gotten himself elected president. Like a hacker who knows where to find security holes in a computer system to exploit, this constitutional law professor knew exactly where the Constitution’s flaws are. He understood that a divided Congress is an ambitious president’s best friend, because a divided Congress will be unable to act against a president who steps outside his authority. When half of the divided Congress agrees with his actions because it views the ends as justifying the means, the president has license to break, violate, ignore and rewrite laws according to his whims. When he has a media that remains in love with him, he has sufficient air support to divide and destroy what remains of his opposition.
Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley laid out the significance of the problem during House testimony this week.
REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA): Professor Turley, the constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?
JONATHAN TURLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in every single branch.
This Newtonian orbit that the three branches exist in is a delicate one but it is designed to prevent this type of concentration. There is two trends going on which should be of equal concern to all members of Congress. One is that we have had the radical expansion of presidential powers under both President Bush and President Obama. We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority. And with that trend we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch. We have agencies that are quite large that issue regulations. The Supreme Court said recently that agencies could actually define their own or interpret their own jurisdiction.
Video at the link. During the same hearing, Cato legal expert Michael Cannon warned that Obama’s habit of ignoring and/or rewriting laws on the fly can lead America to a very dangerous place. If the government isn’t bound by the law, citizens may soon believe that neither are they.
Barack Obama isn’t the only problem we have in government at the moment, as Turley points out. He is one of many. We have a bureaucracy packed with devious political operatives, not public servants, that has become a political force and a de facto government on autopilot. We have a judiciary that on one hand refuses to defend liberty and re-writes laws, and on the other hand tilts farther and farther away from its original mission. We have a legislative branch that is composed more and more of career politicians whose primary interest is in getting re-elected and accumulating personal wealth and power, not devolving power to the people. We have local and state governments that are tending to assume they have the power to regulate every aspect of our lives. Government itself is more a system of graft than a system that defends the individual rights and liberties of Americans.
All of these are significant problems. But the problem of the unchecked, imperial presidency is the greatest. Next year’s midterms are going to be extremely important. Barack Obama has hacked the Constitution. Next year’s results will either rein him in, or unleash him to spend the last two years of his presidency finishing the “fundamental transformation” project that he started in 2009.