Of Kings and Governors…

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

In last night’s GOP Presidential Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the main action of the debate consisted of  three governors squabbling over their records as chief executives in their respective states.  Gov. Rick Perry and former Governors Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman spent their allotted time picking apart each others records on job creation, Health-care, and other miscellaneous statist policy.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a consensus amongst political pundits that being a governor of a successful state is a part of a litmus test that determines whether or not someone is qualified as a candidate for the presidency.  In this day and age, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

If the presidencies of George Bush and Barack Obama have taught us anything, its that the constitutional understanding of the Executive Branch’s power in government is being completely misinterpreted.

We live in an age of the Imperial Presidency.  This is an age in which it is characteristic of our chief executives to completely ignore the legislative branch when their whims are not met with absolute support and compliance.  It is almost impossible to count the instances in which our last two presidents alone have over stepped the bounds of their constitutional authority.  In their book, Power Surge, Gene Healey and Tim Lynch outline our twisted, modern view of executive power:

  • a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech—and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;
  • a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;
  • a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as “enemy combatants,” strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror— in other words, perhaps forever; and
  • a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.  “

 

Almost all actions taken by the Obama Administration in the last two and a half years have completely endorsed this understanding of executive power.  From outright abuses such as Obamacare and military action in Libya, to amusing contemplations such as ignoring Congress’ ruling on the recent debt ceiling measures, it should be clear to all of us that action such as this would infuriate our nation’s founders.

In “The Federalist No. 51” James Madison described the nature of the idea behind the system of checks and balances:

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

Madison’s words beautifully illustrate a very simple point.  The great American experiment of Constitutional Republicanism was meant to be framed in such a way that secures the liberties of it’s citizens from the will of a king or tyrant.

In regards to the search for our current President’s successor, I think that voters would not be wrong to be wary of candidates who are experienced in the use of Executive power.  My intention is not to undermine or criticize the character of any of the candidates previously mentioned, I just think that a healthy distrust of any executive who has served in this age of  radical executive decision making would prove to be more wise than foolish.

As for a suggestion of what voters should be looking for, I humbly suggest that we nominate a figure of principle.  Obviously, I would seek a figure who recognizes the severe abuse of executive power in recent history.  In my view as someone who seeks to further the cause of liberty, I would also prefer a figure who has shown a consistent dedication to the principles of our founders and our constitution.  We should seek for the nomination of one who does not cast aside those principles for the sake of political expedience.

Does this sound like anyone we know?

 

 

 

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