Increasing Executive Power

I have been interested in politics as long as I can remember. Lately I’ve been blogging about it less, and that’s likely to continue. There’s just too much to do! But I want to note one trend.

Practically every national election I’ve voted in has featured concerns about increasing executive power. In the modern era, the power to make war has been a particularly strong example of a shift of power toward the executive, with the powers of the commander-in-chief stretched past the limit, in my view. Yes, war happens faster, but rather than taking up their responsibility and finding a way to authorize (or not) actions more rapidly, congress has generally let the power to declare war slip away from them. But that’s just an example.

McClatchy has an article, Obama turning to executive power to get what he wants, and it illustrates how similar President Obama is to President Bush. What’s always amused me about the complaints regarding Obama’s policies, especially on foreign policy, is that he has, in fact, changed so little.

There are a couple of quotes I’d like to highlight:

Arguably more than any other president in modern history, he’s using executive actions, primarily orders, to bypass or pressure a Congress where the opposition Republicans can block any proposal. (source)

And the real danger:

Now that Obama has showed a willingness to use those tactics, advocacy groups, supporters and even members of Congress are lobbying him to do so more and more. (source, emphasis mine)

Undoubtedly, some of these same groups would have been up in arms if President Bush carried out some of the same sorts of actions as they are now, and rightfully so. In fact, many groups were, quite correctly, critical of Bush for abusing executive power, particularly signing statements.

We tend to focus more on the results than on the process, but when we bypass the process in order to get the results we want, we also make it easier for others to get results we don’t want by bypassing the process in turn. Patience in doing things the right way might just be critical.

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One Comment

  1. thomas says:

    The Constitutionally unwarranted use of executive power by the current resident of the white house to advance an illegitimate party agenda is a clear and present danger facing this nation. In consequence elected representatives and law abiding citizens are fully justified in using every means to oppose the imposition of and render ineffective and neuter a mere party agenda as national policy.

    It is irrational to expect these elected representatives and citizens acting for the good of the nation to be restricted to only a Constitutional process while the opposition obeys or ignores as convenient that process.

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