One of the most damaging aspects of the Obama presidency has been his disregard for the law–he has used his pen and phone to do whatever he pleases, regardless of the law, countless times.
Karl Rove writes today in his Wall Street Journal column that Hillary Clinton is promising to follow suit, if she becomes our next president.
Written constitutions matter little in Latin American countries run by strutting ex-colonels and widows of populist demagogues. In these banana republics, the caudillo exercises both executive and legislative powers. Laws are not written by legislatures, but emanate from the strongman’s pen.
The U.S. would be heading further in this direction if Hillary Clinton becomes president. This might sound outlandish, but consider that President Obama has repeatedly taken unconstitutional actions and sabotaged the separation of powers. . . .
A Clinton presidency would ratify the new post-Constitutional order. Mrs. Clinton explicitly says that she will disregard the separation of powers and assume the legislative branch’s prerogative.
Rove cites several examples of Mrs. Clinton's vowing to exceed her constitutional authority. She will “tighten the gun show and Internet sales loophole if Congress won’t.” She promises to “take administrative action to require that any person attempting to sell a significant number of guns be deemed ‘in the business’ of selling firearms.”
On immigration, Mrs. Clinton promises to “use executive action to prevent deportation” of young people here illegally. “If we cannot get comprehensive immigration reform” from Congress, she said, “then I will go as far as I can, even beyond President Obama.”
Mrs. Clinton is also prepared to act unilaterally with regard to companies that merge with a foreign company and move there to avoid the United States' especially onerous taxes. “If Congress won’t act, then I will ask the Treasury Department, when I’m there, to use its regulatory authority, if that’s what it takes.”
Rove points out that this not only flies in the face of constitutionalism but is extremely different from her rhetoric when she routinely attacked George W. Bush for exceeding what she regarded as his statutory limits. As for Mrs. Clinton's vows to bypass Congress, Rove writes:
This is no small matter. “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands,” James Madison warned in Federalist 47, “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Madison goes on to paraphrase Montesquieu: “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person.”
Or we might consult Thomas Jefferson, namesake of the Iowa Democratic dinner where Mrs. Clinton spoke. In his “Notes on the State of Virginia,” Jefferson writes that “the concentrating” of the legislative, executive and judicial powers “in the same hands, is precisely the definition of despotic government.”
Progressives long ago came to view the Constitution as a quaint document with no binding power. But until recently, they never were so baldly contemptuous of it.
This was part of Barack Obama's transformation of the United States. The question is whether this can be reversed.