It’s true, every President in modern history has undertaken executive action, and you could probably make the case that all of them have overstepped the intent of their constitutional power a time or two by doing so.
But in recent memory, I can’t remember anyone doing so in quite the same manner as President Barack Obama.
His most recent attempt to unilaterally interpret the Second Amendment through executive order might have been his boldest to date, but I’d like to spend a little time talking about what I hope is his final mockery via the State of the Union.
The State of the Union
President Obama is certainly not the first to use the State of the Union for the exact opposite of what was intended, but he just might be the most unashamed.
Article 2, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires of the President a very specific task, which has never been required to be a speech.
It states, “He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the state of the union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Did you notice how nowhere in that clause it said to give Congress a courtesy heads up about what you are going to do anyway?
Rather, the explicit language was to recommend measures for their consideration.
Meaning he can identify all the priorities that he judges necessary and expedient, but it doesn’t say that he is supposed to then go and do them on his own.
When the Constitution was written, the prevailing fear was not of a catharsis in Congress but of a corrupt executive wielding too much power.
George Washington delivered the first annual message to Congress, but Thomas Jefferson ceased the practice of delivering it in person because he believed it to be too much like a monarch.
As a result, he just sent in his recommendations to Congress for their consideration.
The Mockery Will Continue Thanks to Obama
I’ll throw out a bipartisan bone here and say that it is entirely plausible that President Obama felt emboldened to take executive action because his predecessor, George W. Bush, was known to do so at times as well.
So what does that mean for the next president when he sits in the Oval Office with the executive precedent set by Obama?
Because to be honest, for at least the past six years, Congress could’ve just followed the President’s Twitter feed to find out what he was going to do next rather than show up in suits and ties and pretend like they had any influence over it.
It doesn’t matter whether it will be Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or even Donald Trump — when the going gets tough, they will have a greater ability to act on their own rather than submit anything for consideration to Congress. Whether you like him or not, perhaps Rand Paul is the only man that I might believe would restrain himself from such action. Out of all the candidates, it is abundantly clear where this man stands on the matter.
I have never been one to believe that Obama is a tyrant or has any nefarious plans for this country.
Rather, I’ve just believed him to be an extreme liberal who believes he knows so well what is best for this nation that he is willing to bend and/or break the Constitution if necessary.
But to stand up in front of Congress and speak of your legacy that for the most part did not involve them is pure mockery.
And what’s worse, I believe it will continue long after Obama has left office thanks to the precedent he set for us all.