Beyond Barack

It’s becoming increasingly clear that we are reaching a crisis point in America. Our problems are much bigger than a lying president, an incompetent administration and party gridlock.

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We are institutionalizing the abuse of unchecked power.  We are losing faith in our basic institutions.  We are failing to get serious about the big issues.

Abuse of Power

President Obama is the Gumby of presidents, stretching the role of the executive beyond that which we thought possible. His list of abuses has grown long: making unilateral legislative changes to Obamacare, failing to enforce immigration laws, granting educational waivers, making non-recess appointments.

Warnings of this abuse echoed throughout the Capitol last week as constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley warned a Congressional panel that Obama’s predilection for unilaterally modifying laws represents a “quite severe” danger.

“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,” he said.

Allowing for power to concentrate in a single branch – to have an “uber-branch” of government – flies in the face of our founding principle of checks and balances. The outrage among the other supposedly equal branches of government feels muted. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas released this week the second report in his “Legal Limit” series.

On unilaterally rewriting parts of Obamacare, Cruz writes, “This arrogation of power to the Executive undermines the rule of law, and poses a grave threat to our Constitution and to the liberty of every American.”

Why aren’t more in Congress upset like Cruz? The reason is because the solution, impeachment, is too much for the politically weak. The political beating associated with Obama impeachment hearings will trump the non-partisan will to protect the balance of power in Washington.

However, allowing the presidency to expand unchecked could have long-term consequences of epic proportions.

Losing Faith in Government

The ability to check the power of the president doesn’t just rest with Congress but also with the people.  Elections represent another way to check the presidency. Unfortunately, the outcry over Obama’s abuse of the executive branch failed to hit a fever pitch before the last election. We are now stuck with him for three more years, though even young Americans would now remove him from office, if given the chance.

Our options become the following: elect representatives and senators in 2014 with an appetite for preserving the integrity of our institutions and elect a president in 2016 who is strongly committed to upholding the Constitution and respects the limits of power.

But these options suddenly present a real problem. Politicians in Washington have shattered Americans trust that they will say what they do. No one has crushed the spirit of trust more than Barack Obama. The built up hopes and hype haven’t matched reality. Obama’s inability to be true to his word and be effective at delivering on his promises leaves a lasting sour impression on the tongues of the public.

With all the fanfare surrounding his rise to the presidency, his slide towards civilian life will be met with a non-nonchalant sigh of disappointment. This will carry beyond Obama himself, coloring the attitudes of generations when it comes to political leaders. Apathy and ignorance will mark a skeptical American public.  Meanwhile, those who champion their pet-causes will capitalize on a breakdown of the system in order to achieve their goals.

The Big Issues Remain

Unfortunately for an apathetic American public, the bill will eventually come due. As Red State’s Erick Erickson says, they will be made to care. This is because we are rapidly approaching a fiscal crisis that will affect everyone, regardless of political persuasion.

Obama has chosen the role of sideline spectator when it comes to America’s fiscal trajectory. He inserts himself into the conversation only to remind us of his flimsy accomplishments of deficit reduction.  But when it comes to the $2.48 trillion train wreck barreling down the tracks – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid – Obama whistles passed young people’s graves. He looks only to secure his name in the history books as a progressive reformer rather than work to accomplish necessary reforms for us all.

But he isn’t alone. Republicans just caved on sequestration, haggling over such things as airline security fees. Seriously?  In order to save this nation, we need fundamental reform of massive entitlement programs and Washington is discussing airline fees? If these people don’t get serious, we are in for a world of hurt.

Beyond Barack Obama’s presidency, we must worry about the changing scope of the executive branch, the unwillingness of Washington to appropriately check powers when necessary and the consistent failure to solve the big problems.

What do you think?

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