The Corner

Politics & Policy

Do Americans Even Care If There’s a Constitution?

Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer at the start of his first re-election campaign rally in several months in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., June 20, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Yuval Levin and Adam J. White covered almost all that needs to be said about the most recent Trump executive orders, the spiritual descendants of Barack Obama’s declaring “I have a pen and a phone” and deciding to enact the DACA and DAPA programs without congressional concurrence, authorization, or action.

The only thing I would add is that the general enthusiasm for Trump’s moves from his grassroots fans, and the general enthusiasm for Obama’s moves from his grassroots fans, demonstrates that most people in politics see no value in separation of powers, and cannot get their heads around why the federal government should have separated powers. They cannot comprehend why a government that invests far-reaching powers in the executive could possibly turn out badly for them.

Back in 2014, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee and the 14 other members of the “Full Employment Caucus” in Congress introduced not legislation but “drafted executive orders” that they wanted the president to sign. Frustrated by being in the legislative minority, they started dreaming up new ways for the executive branch to change the laws and regulations. She declared, “We’ll give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign with pride and strength, in fact, I think that should be our number one agenda, that’s write up these executive orders, draft them, of course, and ask the president to stand with us.” As the meme goes, that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. If you want to serve in the executive branch, then leave the legislative branch.

The first thing all U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives do is take an oath declaring, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” And then they advocate government actions that ignore the separation of powers in the Constitution. Two consecutive presidents have concluded, “if Congress won’t act, I will,” and blithely ignored the fact that this is more or less why we fought a revolution against the British.

Do Americans even want a Constitution? Did the education system fail them so thoroughly that they can’t even begin to grasp why concentrated government power would be a bad thing?

Most Popular

Elections

Is the Biden Campaign Struggling?

On the menu today: a long, long list of Democrats warning that the Biden campaign may not be as strong as it looks in key states and among key demographics; another former White House staffer comes out and denounces the president, offering a hard lesson about how personnel is policy; and a long look at the ... Read More
Elections

Is the Biden Campaign Struggling?

On the menu today: a long, long list of Democrats warning that the Biden campaign may not be as strong as it looks in key states and among key demographics; another former White House staffer comes out and denounces the president, offering a hard lesson about how personnel is policy; and a long look at the ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Enough of ‘Orange Man Bad’

The Trump era has brought its own unique vocabulary: Never Trump, anti-anti-Trump, Deep State, QAnon, “The Resistance,” Podbros, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and of course, MAGA, to name just a few. But by far the most useless phrase to emerge over the last few years is “Orange Man Bad.” If you follow ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Enough of ‘Orange Man Bad’

The Trump era has brought its own unique vocabulary: Never Trump, anti-anti-Trump, Deep State, QAnon, “The Resistance,” Podbros, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and of course, MAGA, to name just a few. But by far the most useless phrase to emerge over the last few years is “Orange Man Bad.” If you follow ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More