From the Right: Preserve, protect and defend

By Phil Boynton
On February 18, 2014

George Washington could have been King of America if he wanted, but he instead became the nation's first elected president. America, up until this point, has been a nation of laws not of men. Yet, President Barack Obama seems to believe as president he can, and I quote, "Do whatever I want." This may be a tongue and cheek one liner, but for a president not known for his sense of humor, it is easy to interpret this to be more than a simple off the cuff remark. No, Mr. President you can't do whatever you want because in America we function under a Constitution and an understanding that limits exist, even for a president.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama made the pledge to take action with or without Congress and that spits in the face of everything our country is based on. This is a nation of checks and balances; this is a nation where one, even the president cannot supersede the law. Now the criticism of President Obama using executive orders to trump Congress is seen through a partisan lens, but heck, a staggering 74 percent of the country believes Obama should not use executive orders to bypass Congress. We have a system of government.  It's imperfect, it's frustrating, it's taxing and often gridlocked, but it is the system we have and it takes all of us to make it work. 

Bypassing Congress does not make a good president. America is governed by the rule of law, not the rule of I. 

Even most recently Obama, by executive order, delayed the employer mandate portion of the healthcare law for another year. I don't care how bad or unpopular Obamacare is, the president cannot sign away laws on a whim. While politically and even economically it is great to delay the mandate, the president does make the laws; he's charged with executing and enforcing the laws. 

Both sides deserve equal blame in embracing the imperial presidency and just as Democrats chided George Bush, both sides should rally behind this issue and say enough is enough. The president is limited; he is not, nor should he be, the sole law of the land. Unilateral action is the key to American success; we've seen this time and time again. If the president wants Washington to work, then he should call on Republicans, call on Democrats and work together united to solve the challenges facing our great nation. 

In continuing that bipartisan fashion, Democrats should join Republicans in rebutting this unilateral action by the president and hold him accountable. To quote Theodore Roosevelt: "No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it." 

The law is the law. The president executes the law; the Court interprets the law. We in America do not have a system where the president is legislator, executive and judge. The founding generation opposed the rule of kings and denounced governing by whim. Picking and choosing the laws is a slippery slope and we are best to get off it, but a precedent is cemented.

The mentality of 'I can do whatever I want' extends beyond Obama to a future Republican president, who may decide to bypass congressional authority and make law by swish of the men. Imagine this scenario under a President Christie or Walker or Cruz and Democrats would be calling him a dictator before the ink dries.  

Let us not abandon the Constitution. The document is more than words on a page. It is the framework for our nation. Millions of brave men and women have given their lives to ensure it and this land's survival. The least we can do is be good stewards and see that it is preserved, protected and defended. 

 

 

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Phil Boynton is a senior political science major and president of the UNH College Republicans. 


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