Elections

Joe Biden’s Authoritarian VP Finalist

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., CA) speaks to reporters about police-reform legislation on Capitol Hill, June 23, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Kamala Harris’s attitude toward executive power is characteristic of the progressive mind.

Last year, Senator Kamala Harris may have become the first presidential candidate in history to laugh derisively at the idea that the Constitution limits what a president can do.

When former Vice President Joe Biden said that her plan for gun control by executive fiat didn’t pass constitutional muster, she scoffed and deployed one of her canned one-liners, “I would just say, ‘Hey, Joe, instead of saying no we can’t, let’s say yes we can!’”

Yes, we can — flippantly blow by the constitutional requirement that new laws be passed by Congress.

Harris was one of the Democratic field’s great enthusiasts for unilateral rule and paid no price for it in the campaign whatsoever. Her presidential bid stalled out for her lack of a message and authenticity, not for her lack of constitutional scruple. In fact, her rejoinder to Biden in the debate got applause, and she now, if the reporting is to be believed, is a finalist to join the Biden ticket.

If Democrats haven’t been scared straight about the perils of an overweening presidency during the Trump years, they never will be. President Donald Trump’s bark has been worse than his bite, but even floating the idea of delaying the election or signing sweeping executive orders on immigration and health care as a substitute for congressional action is bad enough.

He’s actually circumvented Congress in other ways, most dubiously by redirecting military funding to the border wall and also with his series of “acting” appointments not requiring Senate confirmation.

Democrats have condemned all of this. They have characterized it in the harshest possible terms. They have reacted to it by inventing the wildest scenarios of Trump perfidy and eagerly buying up a steady diet of books warning of Trump’s incipient fascism (Fascism: A Warning, On Tyranny, How Fascism Works). They have done everything, it seems, except reevaluate their own predilection for governance by presidential and administrative decree.

Kamala Harris proved it during her failed run. Her gun-control plan would have, among other things, closed the so-called boyfriend loophole to keep dating partners convicted of domestic violence from buying firearms and mandated “near-universal background checks.” Whatever you think of these measures, they would have lacked any possible basis in law.

The Des Moines Register ran a headline about a speech in Iowa she gave touting her plan — “Kamala Harris: Congress would get 100 days to act on guns before she would issue executive order.”

Thanks, Kamala, for the consideration. Giving Congress a little more than three months to do what you want before going ahead and doing it anyway is statesman-like and generous.

In a tweet, she boasted, “Some will say my plan to combat gun violence is ‘too bold.’” Actually, what discerning people said is that it is “too illegal.”

Her approach to immigration was the same. She wanted to enact an enormous amnesty and give so-called Dreamers a path to citizenship by rewriting immigration laws on her own, building on President Barack Obama’s immigration policy through ukase.

She also promised to move on prescription drug pricing by herself if Congress didn’t pass her plan.

The sense of Congress as an accessory — nice to have, but not strictly speaking necessary — suffused her program. This should be one of the foremost things people know about her, but has barely caused a ripple. Democrats and the press are never particularly exercised by executive overreach, so long as it’s in what they consider a good cause.

Of course, Biden might not pick Harris. Even if he does, she’ll be second fiddle on the ticket and he, to his credit, was the one who brought up the constitutional problem with her gun plan. But her attitude toward executive power is characteristic of the progressive mind. Whatever constitutional punctiliousness the Left has developed in response to Trump will be hastily abandoned as soon as it’s an obstacle to anything significant that progressives want to do.

© 2020 by King Features Syndicate

Most Popular

Elections

The First Debate Showed Why Biden Will Win

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, and that will be enough to win him the election this November. This much has been clear since Super Tuesday this year during the Democratic primaries. In 2016, Hillary split several very important states with Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, and those she won, she won without ... Read More
Elections

The First Debate Showed Why Biden Will Win

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, and that will be enough to win him the election this November. This much has been clear since Super Tuesday this year during the Democratic primaries. In 2016, Hillary split several very important states with Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, and those she won, she won without ... Read More
Elections

The Jerry Springer Debate

It’s a shame that Joe Biden couldn’t attend Tuesday night's debate. Okay, Biden was in attendance, but during the 90 minutes, it felt like he barely ever finished a complete sentence. It’s not clear that President Trump necessarily won the night, in the sense that people who were leaning against ... Read More
Elections

The Jerry Springer Debate

It’s a shame that Joe Biden couldn’t attend Tuesday night's debate. Okay, Biden was in attendance, but during the 90 minutes, it felt like he barely ever finished a complete sentence. It’s not clear that President Trump necessarily won the night, in the sense that people who were leaning against ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More

Ben Sasse: Everybody Loves Amy

After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in 2018, Ben Sasse had three words on his mind: Amy Coney Barrett. They’d been on his mind for a while. The Nebraska senator had first started hearing about Barrett from faculty at Notre Dame Law School, where Barrett was a professor, shortly after Trump ... Read More

Ben Sasse: Everybody Loves Amy

After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in 2018, Ben Sasse had three words on his mind: Amy Coney Barrett. They’d been on his mind for a while. The Nebraska senator had first started hearing about Barrett from faculty at Notre Dame Law School, where Barrett was a professor, shortly after Trump ... Read More