As House Speaker John Boehner prepares his lawsuit against President Obama for excessive and illegal use of executive orders, consider that Obama’s behavior over the past five-and-a-half years reflects his having governed as though this country were a democracy.
As Hamilton Abert Long pointed out in his bicentennial volume The American Ideal of 1776, democracy—not “democracy” as in the feature of many political systems whereby everyone gets to participate in government—but the specific form of government that goes by that name, is not only dissimilar to republicanism (the system we live under) but its polar opposite.
Democracy as a system of government embodies unlimited majority rule, or majority rule without safeguards to protect the rights of the minority and individuals. The majority is omnipotent and can rule however it wants, no matter how shabbily it treats everyone else, so long as it can get fifty percent-plus-one representatives to agree.
In contrast, republicanism is about limited majority rule, specifically majority rule with safeguards built into a written constitution to protect the liberty of individuals and the minority, and with checks and balances among branches of government to prevent the tyranny of a few elite rulers.
The modern-day Democratic Party embodies the principles of a democracy, and the Republican Party embodies the principles of a republic. The unlimited majority rule that characterizes a democracy catalyzes a number of illegitimate governing tactics, all of which have been legion in the Obama presidency. For example:
- Haste and recklessness
If all that matters is getting a majority to support your position, then why waste time letting people contemplate the implications of major legislation?
The brand-new Obama administration and Democratic Congress routinely broke promises to post bills online for 48 hours for voters to read. Democrats tried to rush Obamacare through Congress without having read it or become familiar with its details, while tossing major provisions in and out of the legislation willy-nilly in an effort to get something passed before the public started to object too strongly. And Harry Reid’s Democratic-controlled Senate refused, for three consecutive years, to pass or propose a federal budget as required by law, which resulted in an endless series of panicky, last-minute continuing resolutions and threats of fiscal cliffs that put Republicans on the defensive.
- Cheating and rule-bending
If you can convince the public that it’s OK to use whichever tactics are necessary to accomplish an important goal, then why not use that consensus as political cover for actions you otherwise wouldn’t legally be allowed to take?
Democrats tried every maneuver under the sun to pass Obamacare, inappropriately using budget reconciliation to overcome a non-filibuster-proof Senate majority and attempting sleazy schemes like “deem and pass” and the Cornhusker Kickback. Recently Obama has announced endless delays and special breaks for various interest groups in implementing Obamacare, in an attempt to postpone the electoral consequences of carrying out its unpopular provisions.
Consider liberal cheating at the ballot box: Al Gore’s push for hand recounts using loosened standards in select counties in the 2000 Florida Presidential recount, or Al Franken stealing a Minnesota Senate election by finding a judge to approve alternative vote-counting standards. Or liberal double standards regarding appointed seats: Massachusetts Democrats withholding Governor Mitt Romney’s right to appoint a successor to John Kerry in 2004 and then changing the rules so Governor Deval Patrick could fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, or liberal Mayor Mike Bloomberg supporting the law that prevented Rudy Guiliani from serving more than two terms and then pushing to suspend it so he could serve three terms.
- Usurping other branches’ powers
If other branches of government or private parties won’t cooperate in helping you enact your schemes, then why let checks and balances or limits on rule get in your way?
Consider Obama’s aforementioned inappropriate use of executive powers, including directing the EPA to enact carbon dioxide restrictions after Congress wouldn’t pass a bill doing so; making hiring and firing decisions for automobile manufacturers and banks; capping executive pay for companies that took bailout money; nationalizing the student loan system; appointing dozens of unaccountable czars; and unilaterally and illegally declaring dozens of delays to Obamacare.
If the integrity of political tactics doesn’t matter, only achieving your desired outcomes, then why bother to be consistent in which behaviors you condemn and which you practice?
Obama decried all of Bush’s post-9/11 security policies as a campaign strategy, then adopted almost all of them as his own once in office. Liberals loudly protested the Iraq War at townhall meetings under President George W. Bush, then denounced voters who attended townhall meetings to confront their representatives about Obamacare. And the left accused conservatives of politicizing the Benghazi attacks after the 2012 election, then got indignant when Republicans produced evidence that the administration had politicized the IRS audit process before the 2012 election.
If those out of power aren’t cooperating with your plans, then what’s wrong with reminding them of their place and putting your boot on their necks?
The administration threatened to sic the Department of Homeland Security on Tea Partiers; unleashed the IRS to subject conservative groups to extra scrutiny before the 2012 election; asked supporters to send along “fishy” information on Obamacare and the email addresses of those who sent it; and tried to regulate the Internet and talk radio to ensure “balanced” content.
The left denounces Boehner’s lawsuit as folly. Perhaps it won’t prevail in the courts. But a key feature of a republic is that the majority in power can’t just do whatever it wants if its actions violate rights enshrined in the constitution. If they try, officials in other branches of government can step in and try to curb their power. And that is exactly what suing the President is intended to accomplish.
- Why Obama Calls Our Constitutional Republic a “Constitutional Democracy” (moonbattery.com)
- ObamaCare, democracy, and the Republic (humanevents.com)
- The Compromise Canard (americanthinker.com)
- Republicans to Sue Obama For Not Being Republican (planetpov.com)
- A Crisis in Democracy ”Revisited” (theaimn.com)