July 30, 2021

A PEN, A PHONE AND A CONSTITUTION

In what can only be construed as a threat to his opponents in Congress telling them that if his ideas are not turned into laws, he will use his pen and his phone, president Obama has stepped up to unprecedented limits the expanding role of the executive branch into the affairs of the country.    The only recourse that we the people have it’s our Constitution.   

When the father of our Constitution James Madison, supported by Thomas Jefferson, elaborated the system of government that would avoid a tyranny under the will of a ruler, and even of an elected majority, three equal branches were established, with equal powers, common and sole duties, and checks and balances. This unique arrangement was in order to stop the hegemony of the executive.   They fully realized that in the federal government achievements would be limited as consensus and much compromise would be required and thus results not many.   In this scheme the majority of the needs of the population were taken care of at the State level.     

Even though Presidents, starting with George Washington, have expanded the role of the executive branch, modern presidents like Reagan, Clinton and both Bush have worked with an opposing congress and enacted bipartisan legislature, albeit with difficulty and with both parties not fully satisfied.    Obama has used his executive and administrative fiats to change laws and or make laws, as exemplified by changing the ACA, Obamacare, many times and using the EPA and other administrators to change environmental and immigration rules against the will of the majority in congress.    It is time for both parties that compose the legislature, to appeal to the courts in order to protect our Constitution and for us the voters to demand this action.    For those that still blindly agree with our president’s actions, regardless of their merits, I remind them that if these changes persist it will come a time when a ruler not of their liking will exercise these expanded powers.    Let us abide to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote;

A spirit of forbearance and compromise, therefore, and not of encroachment and usurpation, is the healing balm of such a Constitution [as ours]; and each party should prudently shrink from all approach to the line of demarcation, instead of rashly overleaping it, or throwing grapples ahead to haul to hereafter.” –Thomas Jefferson, and

To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” –Thomas Jefferson

Equally important were the thoughts of James Madison, well described by Coleen Sheehan in her essay “James Madison Father of the Constitution”, published by the Heritage Foundation;

 In essence, Madison advised his fellow citizens to be wary of the heat generated by politics and the allurements of political power. Madison thus proposed a system of checks and balances that would incorporate the less than sterling side of human nature into the very workings of government. To accomplish this, the powers of the three branches of government are partially blended, enabling each branch to guard against usurpations of power by the others and safeguard its own constitutional province. Examples of constitutional checks and balances include the executive veto of legislative bills, the legislative override of the executive veto, the required Senate confirmation of presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, and judicial review.

Madison wanted the different branches of government, as well as the two houses of Congress and the national and the state governments, to check each other in the exercise of power, thereby guaranteeing the diffusion of governmental power and the protection of the people’s rights and liberties.

Madison termed these safeguards against governmental tyranny “auxiliary precautions.”The primary control on the government, he emphasized, remains always with the people. In the final analysis, governmental decisions depend on the will of society. If liberty is to be preserved, the will of the people must be grounded in the principles of justice and informed by the precepts of moral responsibility. In arguing for constitutional and institutional safeguards for liberty, Madison never lost sight of the fact that the preservation of freedom ultimately depends on the citizens and their exercise of personal and political responsibility.

 

Fernando J Milanes

 

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