It’s no secret that over recent decades, vast powers once held by the states and Congress have swirled into the Executive branch. No matter the name or the party, the next President will possess and put to use powers secured by Barack Obama. His will be a broad authority associated far more with the likes of brute strongmen such as Hugo Chavez rather than George Washington.
But don’t put the entire blame on Obama, for he didn’t pull the keystone to the Framers’ division of powers and claim them for his own. Blame the early 20th Century Progressives for democratizing the Senate and concentrating power in Washington DC. Just as the Roman Republic didn’t descend into tyrannical empire overnight, the slide of the American Republic into its current misery has been long in the making. Obama and his party simply took advantage of a hundred year trend.
Congress began to relinquish its Article I powers upon ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, a process which accelerated under the New Deal and Great Society as the Executive branch pursued the pinnacle of raw and arbitrary power.
And now our government relies increasingly on Executive and Judicial precedent rather than legislative statute or the Constitution for the supreme law of the land. Every Executive and Judicial excess since the New Deal has been built on prior outrages. Ask the coiffed and pedicured lawyers who convinced Scotus to rewrite Obamacare, and they will claim that it was entirely constitutional, for Scotus has been rewriting the supreme law since FDR. The limits to governmental power are now entirely up to those in power, to that which they believe they can get away with.
We have an elective despotism, wherein the people and states every four years elect a near-autocrat rather than a constitutionally limited president. This is a self-inflicted wound to a people too wrapped up in election year personalities and inanities to realize our corrupt institutions must be reformed if liberty is to be restored.
Should events continue along their present course, we run the serious risk a future president will decide elections are no longer necessary or are dangerous to public safety.
Reform cannot emerge from Washington, DC. If this nation is to return to free, limited government, “We the Sovereign People” through our States must take the lead, and that is to be accomplished through Article V of our beloved Constitution. The Framers’ precious bequest of Article V formalizes our right to frame our government, to define its responsibilities to us, and boundaries of power over us.