Obama’s legacy: Success, or executive abuse?

The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches were supposed to be checks on each other. Under Obama, power has flooded into the Executive; can Donald Trump change that?

Official portrait
Official portrait

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2016 — ­­The upcoming presidential election brings with hope for change that includes decisive leadership. Many voters are demonstrating this hope through their support of Donald Trump.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and author of “The Powers To Lead” writes:

“Adept leadership depends not on stereotypes of style but on how individuals combine hard and soft power skills to produce smart strategies … That is what our new president will need to demonstrate if he wishes to be successful and regain public confidence.”

The executive order is an example of hard power in action, as when President Obama changed immigration policy in defiance of legislation by fiat.

Obama in the face of politically correct ‘extremism’

Some believe that the president’s authority to issue an executive order is found in Article II, Section I of the Constitution; they are wrong. There is no constitutional provision and no statute explicitly permitting executive orders.

Article I Section I of the Constitution states that all legislative powers reside in Congress. This means all laws are created and passed in Congress, not the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch has the responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress.

An executive order is not legislation. It is an order, issued by the president, to enforce laws passed by Congress.

Executive orders do not require approval of Congress to be effective, but unless they are struck down by the courts or invalidated by law, they hold the same legal force as laws passed by Congress; their strictures are legally binding. However, these orders are to pertain to the duties and responsibilities of government employees.

They are not laws for the entire American populace.

According to Political Forum, “any Executive Order that has any effect on individuals that are not government employees is a violation of Article I Section I.”

“Whenever the President issues an Executive Order that extends to all of the people, Congress has a responsibility to the people to veto any Executive Order that has any effect on non governmental employees. When a President issues an unconstitutional Executive Order and Congress allows the order to stand they are violating their oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

The Presidential Memorandum is another tool of executive power, less well known than the executive order. Like executive orders, presidential memoranda do not require action by Congress.

The difference between executive orders and presidential memoranda is the way in which they are recorded. Executive orders must be numbered and recorded in the Federal Register. Presidential memoranda are not numbered or registered.

Between 2009 and 2016, President Obama issued 246 executive orders. Published along with them in the Federal Register are 198 presidential memoranda. Keeping in mind that not all memoranda are registered, this collection shows a presidency that appears to push constitutional limits, legislating without Congress and without the input of those who will be affected.

When truth follows fiction: Obama’s House of Cards

Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr., a contributor for Forbes Magazine, says the number of Obama’s memoranda surpasses those of George W. Bush, who issued 131 memoranda which were published in the Federal Register during his entire presidency.

Gregory Korte, White House reporter for USA Today, wrote, “Obama is not the first president to use memoranda to accomplish policy aims. But at this point in his presidency, he’s the first to use them more often than executive orders.” (December 17, 2014)

Our forefathers created three branches of government for a specific purpose. The Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches were established to accomplish specified tasks, but also as part of a system of checks and balances on government power, dividing power among different branches to restrict the power exercised by any one branch.

Congress is unwilling to exercise its power and obligation to limit the Executive Branch. Indeed, it willingly allows the Executive to arrogate its powers rather than risk alienating voters by making hard decisions.

A newly elected president has the power to overturn old executive orders; previous presidents have done so. It is done by signing a statement saying, “Previous order is hereby rescinded.” That is exactly what Donald Trump promises to do, especially with regard to executive orders surrounding Obamacare.

Without the executive orders supporting it, Obamacare will have to be revisited by Congress, which will be forced to exercise the constitutional authority it has so willingly abandoned. This will put the people on the road to taking their country back again. And they can demand the return to the checks and balances a our constitutional form of government.

When Obama leave the White House on January 20, 2017, what will he most be remembered for? For his consistent support for law enforcement personnel? For his prudent use of taxpayers’ money for his vacations? For his extensive work on calming race relations? For his ability to lead our country to safer relations with unstable countries that want to destroy us? For his concern for returning vets?

Liberals will say yes to all of the above and cheer Obama as the president who brought the change this country desperately needed; the man who made a difference.

Conservatives see things differently. They see the truth of a corrupt presidency that fueled the decline of America and produced economic and social disasters: racial division; national insecurity; local law enforcement under siege; Americans left to die at the hands of terrorists.

And towering over all, a vast and growing national debt.

Obama will be seen by conservatives as a president who failed America, who let our defenses rot, left race relations at their worst in a generation, left an economy stagnant and tangled in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as a man who believed that he was above the Constitution.

How he is remembered will depend on what becomes of America.

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