In January, I wrote a column called "The United Whims of America," which argued that the trend of politicians ignoring laws with which they disagree was a dangerous development. The central point, more true every day, is we are no longer a nation of laws, but a nation of whims – a people whose laws are in a constant state of flux depending upon who holds various offices. The consequences of this shift from laws to whims, if not reined in, will fundamentally transform the country in ways we cannot predict or allow.
The problem of Congress passing and presidents signing vague laws that leave much to interpretation from courts and bureaucrats is nothing new. The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law in 1990, has been used relentlessly to file frivolous lawsuits and extort untold millions from American businesses. But the ADA was written imprecisely, deliberately leaving the fleshing out of the intentions of Congress and the law to others. As bad as that is, we’ve entered a time when the clear wording of laws is subject to change not through the legislative process or the courts, but by temporary politicians’ personal thoughts or feelings on a given issue.
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, it contained unambiguous language on start dates and requirements of businesses, among other issues. The dates for the individual and business mandates were every bit the “law of the land,” as the president liked to say, as the individual mandate itself was.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Utopia…
Once Obamacare became a political liability and a policy disaster, rather than change it legally through Congress, the president simply removed his magic pen from his desk and declared that what had been now wasn’t. Legal dates were changed, mandates punted, fees waived. None of this was allowed under the law, but it all went unchallenged by the media and, with the exception of a few grumbles, Republicans too.
Presidents used to be restricted by Congress and their oath of office, but not anymore. President Obama has routinely thwarted laws – even some of those he signed. The limits to what the next president can and will do will be fully dependent upon the character of that person. If the person is of good character and interested in maintaining our constitutionally limited republic. President Obama’s extra-constitutional actions will be reversed and publicly condemned, and precedent will be reset for future holders of the office. If not, we will continue to see chief executives enforce only those laws with which they agree.
Should the next president be a Republican, either of these outcomes will lead to Democrats rediscovering a devotion to the separate but equal branches of government. Unfortunately for us, not only will that outrage come too late, it will carry zero weight – coming as it will from those who cheered these abuses and even encouraged many of them beforehand.
But the next president is a few years away; the current occupant of the office isn’t done inflicting his damage yet.
Think what you will of America’s drug laws, they are the law. You can believe our prisons are unjustly full of non-violent drug offenders, but they are not there as a result of some conspiracy. They’re there because they violated duly passed laws.
Should those laws be changed? Should someone do serious time and have the rest of their life ruined by being caught with a dime bag? There’s a way to address that – the legislative process.
Changing mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug convictions is simple – pass a bill and have the president sign it. But the president isn’t interested in that. Stuck in constant campaign mode, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are moving to unilaterally subvert the law as it currently exists, changing it by decree, not “democracy.”
On the amnesty front, President Obama travels the country trying to sell a disinterested public on the concept of creating 30 million new Democrat voters, Nancy Pelosi joins in with cries of racism, and House Republican leadership scrambles to help them. The only thing standing in the way of mass amnesty and citizenship for millions of people who knowingly and willingly thwart our nation’s laws and sovereignty are conservatives in the House of Representatives and the American people who put immigration reform just above toenail fungus on their list of things they want government to address.
But the president wants it, and the president and his enabling Democratic congressional cabal won’t wait for such inconveniences as Congress passing a bill. President Obama is poised to simply impose de facto amnesty on a huge number of illegal aliens through changing the deportation process. Try to illegally move to Mexico, France, or any number of countries on the planet, and you’ll be deported faster than you can say “croissant.” Do the same to the United States, and you’ll be paying in-state tuition for your publicly educated children while waiting in line for your driver’s license after getting taxpayer-provided health care at the local emergency room.
We’re approaching the point where it is more advantageous to renounce your American citizenship and simply live illegally in the country than to follow the laws, or whatever laws are still in effect.
With the president ignoring existing laws, rewriting his own laws and preparing to make new laws on his own, what’s the point of Congress? What’s the point of laws at all? With Harry Reid and Democrats controlling the Senate, President Obama knows he’ll face no consequences for his lawlessness. With the media fighting to sniff his chair, the president knows his actions never will receive the context and disinfecting sunlight his predecessors faced. And with the President setting the example, subordinates and bureaucrats are emboldened to do the same – see Lois Lerner. But with each action, each whim, the president damages our republic. He’ll be long gone by the time the check comes for the harm his actions caused, but come it will.
Each election matters, and each election from here on out is a choice between a constitutionally limited republic and the liberty we’ve enjoyed since our founding or a continued move toward a semi-monarchy, a benevolent one if you happen to agree with whoever is in office at the given time. Just keep in mind that, at the end of the day, even a benevolent dictatorship is a dictatorship.