Be careful what you wish for
‘Cause you just might get it all
You just might get it all
And then some you don’t want
By now most of you have picked up on the fact that, as a matter of substantive policy, I am, well, in sharp disagreement with this President. Today’s not about that. Today I want to focus on process, and especially for those of you on the Left—you know who you are—I want you to pay particular attention, because this should scare you to death.
The year is 2038. Sounds very futuristic, but it’s really only 26 years from now. Not far off, in the grand scheme of things.
The President is Republican David Wainwright*, a former one-term senator from Alabama. Wainwright came to national prominence with a stirring keynote address at the 2032 GOP national convention. During his campaign in 2036, the Leftist media tried to raise alarms about some of Wainwright’s associations with Big Oil and the Klan, but these largely fell upon deaf ears as a public long-tired of being beaten down with excessive taxes—the so-called “Buffett Rule,” originally enacted in 2013 during Barack Obama’s second term to impose a flat tax of 30% on those making over $1 million, was later expanded to apply down to those making more than $150,000—was more interested in his “Keep Your Money” message of tax reform.
But in his second year in office, Wainwright faces serious opposition from a Democrat-controlled Congress. Nevertheless, the Wainwright administration presses forward with his vision of transforming America with the following initiatives:
- Calling it “unworkable in practice,” and impatient with Congress’ failure to enact amendments on its own, Wainwright directs his Department of Education to begin granting waivers from the school integration and busing requirements of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The first states to receive these waivers: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Illinois.
- Citing a protein deficiency in the American diet—and dismissing reported connections between high administration officials and lobbyists for the National Cattlemens’ Beef Association—the Secretary of Agriculture issues an order directing all public schools to include increased minimum quantities of beef in all school lunches.
- As part of an initiative “to better safeguard women’s health,” the Department of Health and Human Services issues new guidelines requiring all women over the age of 16 to undergo annual gynecological exams, to be conducted under the supervision of an HHS officer physically present in the exam room.
- Concluding that it is unconstitutional—even though no court has so held—the Attorney General, acting at the President’s direct instruction, announces that the Department of Justice will no longer prosecute cases under the Voting Rights Act. All cases on appeal are dropped.
- In an effort to reduce the crippling cost of federally-funded abortions under the state-run National Insurance Program and “to enhance poor women’s access to preventative health services,” Wainwright establishes the Federal Birth Control Bureau. The FBCB’s mandate is to set up clinics in inner-city neighborhoods, where women seeking a second abortion must also submit to sterilization surgery.
- The Treasury Department creates a panel—whose members are appointed by the Department, with no Senate review—to review tax cases and no longer prosecute actions to recover unpaid taxes against certain people who “have historically been economically disadvantaged” by the tax system. The criteria the White House establishes for this review center on whether the person being reviewed falls into a tax category whose share of total tax burden exceeds its share of gross national income.
- To reduce the impact of ever-increasing mental health claims during the holiday season, HHS promulgates a new regulation requiring every homeowner to purchase and display a Nativity scene at Christmas. President Wainwright dismisses atheists’ First Amendment claims, saying there must be a balance between free exercise (or non-exercise) of religion, and the national interest in ensuring peoples’ mental health. As an accommodation, however, he relaxes the rule and instead requires all homeowners’ insurance plans to cover the cost of the displays.
Rusty, you’re dealing with a doomsday fantasy land. These things could never happen.
Let’s rewind to the present day.
As I’ve tried repeatedly to explain in this space, the current administration has become a serial abuser of unconstitutional executive fiat power. The Civil Rights Act waivers above are in both verbiage and practice almost identical to Obama’s action last week unilaterally granting state exemptions to the requirements of No Child Left Behind. The beef example is similar to the individual mandate in Obamacare, and the gynecological exam and abortion examples are fairly natural extensions of it (once they can make you buy health insurance, they can justify almost anything as a “preventative measure” aimed at reducing the cost of that insurance). The Voting Right Act example is exactly what the current administration has done with the Defense of Marriage Act (and, in limited cases, with the Voting Rights Act itself). The panel for selective enforcement of the tax code is very much like the deportation review panels now being established. And the Nativity scene mandate is very similar to HHS’ recent rule (as “accommodated”) requiring Catholic schools to cover their employees’ contraception.
In our Constitutional system, Presidents don’t have the power to legislate. They have a veto power, but that veto extends only to entire pieces of legislation—despite Reagan’s forceful arguments for it, later echoed by Clinton and Bush 43, we still don’t have a line-item veto. Once passed and signed into law, the ONLY power a President has is the mandate to enforce it. A President cannot add laws by executive order, and cannot repeal laws through selective enforcement. Yet that’s exactly what this President is doing—bypassing and overriding both the current and prior Congresses by executive edict.
The examples I’ve used here are extreme, and they’re deliberately crafted to bother you on the Left in their substance, because I’m trying desperately to get your attention. But the real problem here isn’t the substance, it’s the process. This administration is totally out of control in terms of its usurpation of powers the Constitution does not grant to the executive. And as you can see, once we become completely divorced from our Constitutional moorings, we have a real problem. There cease to be any limits on what a President can do.
You may love it now because you like the substance of all the hope and change this President is creating. But he won’t be President forever—I’m still clinging to the assumption that even HE can’t overcome the 22nd Amendment—and you'll find then that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You’ll rail against a President Wainwright and claim he’s suspending the bill of rights, that he doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to do what he’s doing. And you’ll be right.
You’ll also be too late.
*This is a made-up name of a purely fictional character employed here for purposes of illustration only. I am not aware of any real person by that name, and any resemblance between the portrayal of the character here and any real person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.