Remembering back to any high school US history class, we can all recall hearing about the doctrines of various presidents. A doctrine would be the pattern of actions that came to define a given administration. The history of doctrines tends to remember presidents by their aggressive foreign policy stances, such as the Monroe Doctrine towards European colonization efforts in the Americas or the Reagan Doctrine of pushing back Soviet influence around the world.
President Obama, on the other hand, will likely not be remembered for any significant foreign policy achievements. Instead, unfortunately, when Americans think of the Obama Doctrine, they will remember a decidedly passive-aggressive domestic policy. President Obama’s doctrine is a consistent misuse of executive power to unilaterally advance his agenda and strangle groups of Americans and economic actors that operate in contrast to his progressive vision.
This is most apparent in the energy sector, where companies in Obama’s less-than-favored industries, like coal mining and oil and gas exploration, wait almost endlessly for approval of their operating permits from agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency. An even more visible example is the now 2125+plus day wait on a decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline in spite of bipartisan support and continued reviews that demonstrate the project’s negligible environmental impact. The problem is so widespread that it’s prompted several Republican-sponsored efforts in both chambers of Congress to place strict time limits on permitting processes in order to prevent this stifle-by-stalling strategy.
This problem is not unique to the energy sector, however. The Obama Doctrine actually cropped up as an integral part of the IRS’s strategy to silence conservative Americans.
Last summer, it was revealed that several officials throughout the Internal Revenue Service’s hierarchy had appointed themselves the new defacto thought police of the United States. Conservative Americans lawfully seeking tax-exempt status for their organizations, the very kinds of groups that make up the civil society Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at in his famous Democracy in America
(another high school US history staple), were explicitly targeted for additional scrutiny by an agency that is consistently mocked for its mercilessness. Americans, who had committed no crime whatsoever, were subject to lengthy inspections so thorough that even the content of their prayers became the object of federal investigation. I have a hard time imagining a practice that is a more clear violation of the First Amendment, but I digress.