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It is amazing to see how the shocking election of a hard-charging, blustery, populist Republican as president can completely reverse the views of progressive Democrats on the issue of executive power. Under Obama, Democrats cheered when he proclaimed that he had a “phone and a pen”, which he would use to bypass a Republican Congress when they did not give Obama his way.
Democrats defended him when he declared he had the right to determine when another branch of government – the Senate – was in session, and when it was not. After his failure to achieve “comprehensive” immigration reform, Obama created the DACA and DAPA programs to grant a de facto amnesty to millions of illegals, something he had repeatedly declared publicly was beyond his powers. He unilaterally rewrote sections of the ObamaCare law to fit his political needs, despite the fact that the Constitution grants all legislative power to Congress. He tried to forced Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing birth control, he trampled on free speech rights, and he negotiated a non-treaty with Iran and refused to submit it to the Senate for ratification. And the Democrats cheered.
In every facet of his administration, Obama used raw political power to force through his agenda, even when such actions were in direct violation of the Constitution’s limits on executive power. Yet Democrats yawned at such abuse of power, or openly encouraged, aided, and abetted it.
Yet now that Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office, Democrats have suddenly discovered the virtues of the separation of powers, and checks and balances on the use of power. Elected Democrats go on TV and declare Trump a fascist and an American Hitler, claiming he is trying to crush free speech and rule as a dictator (apparently missing the fact that their televised histrionics and condemnations of Trump disprove their claims that he is crushing free speech).
Ironically, despite Trump’s willingness to trade blow-for-blow with the media, his constant tweets, and his charged rhetoric, Trump’s actual governance has been the absolute antithesis of a dictator.
Trump has installed a cabinet of highly intelligent, accomplished, independent thinkers who often expressed disagreement during Senate confirmation hearings with certain aspects of Trump’s positions. His nomination of Judge Neal Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is lunacy if President Trump’s goal is to consolidate and expand executive power. Judge Gorsuch has a long record of opposing expansion of executive power, and advocates even more vigorously for restricting the power of the presidency than the man he would replace, Justice Antonin Scalia.
When President Trump’s so-called travel ban was blocked by the oft-overturned Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, rather than follow Obama’s example and press forward anyway, or run to the Supreme Court, Trump criticized the ruling (and correctly so; it was a political ruling, not a legal one) but abided by it nevertheless.
And though his reversal of the Obama “transgender bathroom mandate” brought wails and lamentations from the Left, claiming Trump was stripping poor, vulnerable transgendered children of needed protections (when the truth is that it protects all children from sexual predators and deviants), all his action did was return that decision to the states, which were free to implement the foolish policy if they so choose.
President Trump has also issued several executive orders regarding federal regulations, with one directing executive agencies to begin looking to repeal regulations, calling on them to repeal two regulations for every one passed. Another EO calls for the appointment of a Regulatory Reform Officer within each agency, as well as a Regulatory Reform Task Force, both charged with culling through the massive regulatory code with the goal of eliminating as many job-killing, burdensome regulations as possible. The end results of these actions are to reduce executive power, not increase it.
National Review’s David French well captures the essence of the Trump administration thus far, arguing that “There’s no doubt that Trump has expressed on occasion authoritarian desires or instincts. In the campaign, he expressed his own hostility for the First Amendment, his own love of expansive government eminent-domain takings…and declared that he alone would fix our nation’s most pressing problems. But so far, not only has an authoritarian presidency not materialized, it’s nowhere on the horizon.”
“Instead, he’s facing a free press that has suddenly (and somewhat cynically) rediscovered its desire to “speak truth to power,” an invigorated, activist judiciary, and a protest movement that’s jamming congressional town halls from coast to coast.”
Nearly every single cabinet position is now staffed by someone who promises to return federal power to the states, and to the people, and in the process reducing their own power.
Screeching, weeping, whining, hand-wringing, protesting, hyperbolic liberals rage 24/7 about the dangers of President Trump’s power. They claim he is the new Hitler.
If President Trump’s goal is to wield an iron grip on the levers of power, to crush free speech and dissent, and to silence his opposition, then he is going about it in the most baffling, backwards, incompetent way possible.
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