When the founding fathers of this nation sat in the constitutional convention, they attempted to create a constitution that would produce a government that would not only represent the will of the people, but also be able to prevent one person or branch of the government, from becoming too powerful and tyrannical. The framers clearly intended the legislative branch to be the most powerful of the three branches of government. And clearly laid out the powers that Congress was to possess. Foremost amongst these powers is the “power of the purse” which is essentially the ability to decide how much money will be appropriated to any government programs, departments, or to the military. Theoretically, the legislature has the ability to check any other entity by defunding them.
In recent years, Congress has failed to properly check the growing powers of the presidency. Both the previous administration and the current administration have taken advantage of the lethargy of Congress to set an unsustainable precedent of growing executive powers that take the form of executive orders.
Recently President Obama signed an executive order that issued work permits to up to five million illegal immigrants. Although I do support revision of our current immigration laws, I do not think that this was the correct way to go about addressing the issue of illegal immigration.
This executive order, as well as many others, is clearly an overreaching power grab by the executive branch, as well as ignoring one of the most important responsibilities of any executive, which is to enforce the laws written and passed by the Congress. With executive orders like this the president is openly flaunting his unwillingness to enforce the laws of the land.
The main powers of the presidency are in the field of foreign affairs, but in recent times the people that have held the office of the presidency have felt entitled enough to attempt to push pieces of their agenda through without the consent of the legislature. As I have previously implied, the president should enforce the law by emulating the original intent of the writers of the constitution. When any president decides not to enforce the law, it is clearly a tyrannical and destabilizing act that sets a dangerous precedent for both future administrations and laws.
In order to completely understand how dangerous this precedent being set is, one needs to set aside their political leanings and look at the issue with as little personal bias as possible. Many liberals rejoiced after hearing about President Obama’s action on immigration, but would these same people have agreed that this kind of action was appropriate and constitutional if it was a conservative president pushing a conservative agenda? The answer of course is no, and conservatives are oftentimes just as guilty of this behavior as liberals are. Regardless of partisan affiliation, we as Americans should encourage Congress to check the power of the overreaching executive branch.
The best thing for Congress to do at this point is to stand up to President Obama and govern in the way the Constitution intended them to. The best way for them to fulfill their duties within our system of checks and balances that the founders intended, is for Congress to use their powers to force the president to act within his Constitutional parameters and to obey and enforce the laws that previous Congresses have set into law.
Unfortunately Congress is unlikely to take action like this as it will be seen as hyper-partisanship and for all intents and purposes it would be, as it would be a Republican Congress attempting to bring a Democratic president down a peg. If this lack of checks and balances concerns you, please be sure to contact both your Senators and your Representatives, and encourage them to take action to help preserve our system of checks and balances that our founders so wisely set into place, and remember the issue of executive overreach when you decide what presidential candidate you would like to support in 2016.