Ken Connor

If the Founding Fathers understood anything, it was power's tendency to concentrate itself. This is why our government is constructed the way it is, with authority distributed equally among three branches of government. In recent years, however, the federal government has conducted itself more like a three-ring circus than a constitutional republic. Our judges have gotten into the habit of legislating from the bench, our representatives have become so corrupt, decadent and inefficient that they've rendered themselves practically obsolete, and our Presidents have come to preside over a powerful, bureaucratic fiefdom that operates with virtual autonomy.

President Obama has insisted that his actions thus far are in accordance with the War Powers Act, yet he has allowed the timeframe for congressional approval to expire and appears intent on an ambiguous and open-ended financial commitment to the war in Libya. At this point neither the Congress nor the American people know what to make of our involvement in Libya. Why are we there? Why Libya and not Egypt? Why not Syria? Why not Iran? Are we to satisfy ourselves with the President's assurances that "he has his reasons," and leave it at that?

Say what you want about President Bush's motives for pursuing a congressional resolution for war with Iraq, at least he secured a resolution. He respected the process. Despite this he was condemned by the Liberal Left as the most dishonest, unlawful, and villainous war-monger ever to occupy the White House. It is ironic that now those who abhorred the vast expansion of executive power under the Bush administration are witnessing its continued growth under the governance of the man who promised them hope and change.

All politics aside, the question at issue is quite simple: Does the Constitution mean what it says or not? Or perhaps the question should be, Do we care was the Constitution says, or not?

Thomas Jefferson said, "Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction." The exercise of checks and balances help assure that the federal government acts in the limited fashion intended. Do we want Presidents to be able to commit American lives and resources to foreign hostilities without restraint? Do we want a Congress that is impotent in the face of an executive who deliberately usurps powers that don't rightly belong to him?

If the recent action by the House of Representatives is any indication, the answer is no. This is a good thing. Perhaps it's the only thing our two parties can agree on. At least it's a start.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.