ARRA News Service
News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. Content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
    Home Page
   

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Hegemonic Presidency

Since President Obama announced his "year of action" in his State of the Union Address, he has used the "pen" and the "phone" in unprecedented ways. Today's essay is inspired by Federalist 47. We look at what happens when, to use Publius's terms, "force" and "will" unite--when the executive branch becomes a de facto lawmaking body.

What keeps the president’s “pen” and “phone” from making Congress superfluous? Not much.
 Drs. David Corbin and Matthew Parks, Contributing Authors: In a week of news coverage dominated by the Bergdahl affair, President Obama submitted, “I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington,” before forwarding his administration’s latest rationale as to why he agreed to swap an American serviceman for five Taliban terrorists: “I write too many letters to folks who, unfortunately, don’t see their children again after fighting a war.”

Earlier in the same press conference, he posited that it is a “basic principle” that the United States does not leave any soldier behind on the battlefield. A day prior, the Obama Administration defended the secrecy of the deal on the basis that telling Congress as required by Section 1035(d) of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act would have put Sgt. Bergdahl’s life at risk. And the day before that, the Administration suggested that it was motivated by Bergdahl’s health.

The Administration’s daily affirmations, explanations, and refutations followed last weekend’s Rose Garden announcement celebrating the Bergdahl swap and a Sunday talk show circuit victory tour aptly described by both the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes and the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel as amateur hour once again at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Why send Administration officials on national television advancing the case that Bergdahl had served honorably and that the move did not undermine American national security, if you knew otherwise? And why argue thereafter that the Administration was fully within its legal prerogative in a blatant misreading of the Defense Authorization Act? Memo to the White House: Many of the controversies that are whipped up in Washington D.C. are self-inflicted.

We certainly understand the President hating to write letters to parents of lost servicemen. The 70th anniversary of D-Day last Friday was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices that servicemen and servicewomen and their families make to secure American liberty. The military’s commitment not to leave soldiers behind is also, obviously, commendable. But neither of these principles justifies actions that undermine the core constitutional responsibilities of the President. Let President Obama show that his trade made American liberty more secure before he calls this a Washington tempest in a teapot or seconds Harry Reid’s judgment that critics “are making a big deal over nothing.”

In reality, when one peels away the outer layers of this week’s news onion, it becomes clear that “the controversy whipped up by others” emerged from the President’s desire to make good on his 2008 campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Why hasn’t he simply closed down the camp? Too politically risky. Why not suggest that as Commander-in-Chief, he has the constitutional authority to act unilaterally on the matter? Because his Administration had already penned a memo contending that the executive did not possess sole authority on such matters. Thus he was left this week trying to square several circles he had drawn in his attempt to distance himself from President Bush’s foreign policy.

At the core of the onion, however, is not anything the president or his advisors said on the campaign trail or on their way into office, but rather the Constitution itself and its distribution of powers among the three branches of the federal government. Senator and candidate Obama was a consistent critic of what he took to be executive overreach on the part of the Bush Administration in its response to the September 11th attacks of 2001. President Obama, however, has acted upon much the same principles as his predecessor, while adding new dimensions of domestic policy executive overreach. The result: an increasingly hegemonic presidency that employs the Constitution as campaign fodder during election season but sees it as a nuisance otherwise.

Statesmanship bridled by the Constitution looks very different.

It is impossible to overstate the significance of the separation of powers in the political thought of the American founders, despite the fact that the connection between it and the cardinal principle of republicanism–the rule of law–was of relatively recent discovery. John Locke’s definitive Second Treatise of Government, for example, published one hundred years before the Constitution was written, identifies three basic political powers, but places no special emphasis on maintaining their independence. As James Madison notes in Federalist 47, it was only with the publication of Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws, sixty years later, that the doctrine of the separation of powers was brought decisively “to the attention of mankind.”

Its conquest, if recent at the time of the founding, was nevertheless complete: “No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty,” claimed Madison in the same essay. As a result, he readily conceded that if the Constitution did not provide adequately for the separation of powers “no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system.”

Why such a strong affirmation? According to Madison:“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”For Madison, tyranny can be identified in the form of a regime, before any tyrant has appeared or any oppressive actions have been taken: absolute power can be “accumulated” in the framing of a government. On the other hand, it may also arise, de facto, even where the formal constitution provides against it, by the progressive “accumulation” of power by one branch or another. While Madison did not expect the powers exercised by the three branches of government to be completely ‘separate and distinct,’ he warns, “where the WHOLE power of one department is exercised by the same hands which possess the WHOLE power of another department, the fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted.”

As we’ll see further in subsequent essays, Madison, like most of the founders, believed that a hegemonic Congress was the greatest (at least near-term) threat to the American republic. But here too one hundred years of Progressivism has taken its toll, making the Congress, today, the “least dangerous branch” in the system.

Consider the balance of authority in the present controversy over the Bergdahl trade. Congress, according to the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, has the authority “to make rules concerning Captures on Land and Water” and “to make rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces”; the President is, of course, “commander-in-chief” of the military. A plain reading of the texts in view suggests that Congress was well within its rights to prescribe the conditions upon which detainees (“Captures”) could be released from Guantanamo. Whatever the wisdom of Congress’s measure, the president is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”–a clear constitutional responsibility that apologists for executive authority left and right would do well to prioritize over more speculative conclusions.

The president’s serial violations of that charge undermine the balance of our system. The essence of legislative power, according to Federalist 78, is “will.” That is, in our republic, it is the duty of the Congress to direct our political course, within the boundaries set by the Constitution (and the law of nature). However, when the president only follows the laws he likes–and the parts of the laws he likes–his becomes the ultimate will in the system.

When “will” and “force” (the primary executive power) combine, they pose a special menace to liberty. Legislative will, to be just, must be expressed in general, forward-looking laws. Thus the Constitution explicitly prohibits both ex post facto (retroactive) laws and bills of attainder (which declare a given party guilty of a crime without trial–with penalty attached). Executive force, to be just, must be applied against specific offenders for past actions. When the same hands exercise both powers, however, the law easily becomes an instrument of force, used to target opponents with oppressive rules that are only ex post facto laws and bills of attainder by another name.

We know, at least in part, what this looks like from the Administration’s Obamacare contraceptive rules, its IRS abuses, its recent EPA greenhouse gas rules, and more. Obama apologists might counter that what has been gained in Progressive reform outweighs any harm done to American constitutionalism.

If the result of President Obama’s hegemonic presidency has not yet met the standard of monocracy, the general expansion of executive power on his watch has left threadbare the constitutional restraints on executive action. All that keeps the president’s “pen” and “phone” from making Congress superfluous is politics–the calculation that the American people are not yet ready for a king. Perhaps the same result is accomplished by bread and self-inflicted weekly circuses that conveniently distract the American people from realizing their constitutional losses. The upcoming mid-term elections offer us another good opportunity to reverse this trend by electing a Congress more inclined to check our hegemonic presidency.
----------------
Drs. David Corbin and Matthew Parks are Professors of Politics at The Kings College (NYC). They are contributors to the ARRA News Service. They edit and write for The Federalist and are on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: Hegemonic Presidency, Federalist 47, David Corbin, Matthew Parks, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 2:25 PM - Post Link

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home


View U.S. National Debt

Don't miss anything!
Subscribe to the
ARRA News Service
It's FREE & No Ads!

You will receive a verification email
& must validate you subscribed!

You Then Receive One Email Each AM
With Prior Days Articles / Toons / More


Also, Join us at:
Facebook.com/ARRANewsService


Recent Posts:
Personal Tweets by the editor:
Dr. Bill - OzarkGuru - @arra
#Christian Conservative; Retired USAF & Grad Professor. Constitution NRA ProLife schoolchoice fairtax - Editor ARRA NEWS SERVICE. THANKS FOR FOLLOWING!

Action Links!
State Upper & Lower House Members
State Attorney Generals
State Governors
The White House
US House of Representatives
US Senators
GrassFire
NumbersUSA
Ballotpedia

Facebook Accts - Dr. Bill Smith
Pages:
ARRA News Service
Arkansans Against Big Government
Alley-White Am. Legion #52
Catholics & Protestants United Against Discrimination
End Taxpayer Funding of NPR
Overturn Roe V. Wade
Prolife Soldiers
Project Wildfire 4 Life
Republican Liberty Caucus of Arkansas
The Gold Standard
US Atty Gen Loretta Lynch, aka Eric Holder, Must Go
Veterans for Sarah Palin
Why Vote for Hillary (Satire)
FB Groups:
Arkansas For Sarah Palin
Arkansas Conservative Caucus
Arkansas County Tea Party
Arkansans' Discussion Group on National Issues
Blogs for Borders
Conservative Solutions
Conservative Voices
Defend Marriage -- Arkansas
FairTax
FairTax Nation
Arkansas for FairTax
Friends of the TEA Party in Arkansas
Freedom Roundtable
Pro-Life Rocks - Arkansas
Republican Network
Republican Liberty Caucus of AR
Reject the U.N.

Patriots
Exchange
Links

Request Via
Article Comment

Links to ARRA News
A Patriotic Nurse
Agora Associates
a12iggymom's Blog
America, You Asked For It!
Americans for a Free Republic
America's Best Choice
ARRA News Twitter
As The Crackerhead Crumbles
Blogs For Borders
Blogs for Palin
Blow the Trumpet Ministry
Boot Berryism
Cap'n Bob & the Damsel
Chicago Ray Report
Chuck Baldwin - links
Common Cents
Conservative Voices
Defeat Obama's Agenda
Diana's Corner
Greater Fitchburg For Life
Lasting Liberty Blog
Liberal Isn't Amy
Maggie's Notebook
Marathon Pundit
Patriot's Corner
Right on Issues that Matter
Right Reason
Rocking on the Right Side
Saber Point
Saline Watchdog
Secure Arkansas
Sultan Knish
The Blue Eye View
The Born Again Americans
TEA Party Cartoons
The Foxhole | Unapologetic Patriot
The Liberty Republican
The Lid
The Maritime Sentry
The O Word
The Path to Tyranny Blog
The Real Polichick
The War on Guns
TOTUS
Twitter @ARRA
Underground Notes
Warning Signs
Women's Prayer & Action
WyBlog

Editor's Managed Twitter Accounts
Twitter Dr. Bill Smith @arra
Twitter Arkansas @GOPNetwork
Twitter @BootBerryism
Twitter @SovereignAllies
Twitter @FairTaxNation

Editor's Recommended Orgs
Accuracy in Media (AIM)
American Action Forum (AAF)
American Committment
American Culture & Faith Institute
American Enterprise Institute
American Family Business Institute
Americans for Limited Government
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
American Security Council Fdn
AR Faith & Ethics Council
Arkansas Policy Foundation
Ayn Rand Institute
Bill of Rights Institute
Campaign for Working Families
CATO Institute
Center for Individual Freedom
Center for Immigration Studies
Center for Just Society
Center for Freedom & Prosperity
Citizens Against Gov't Waste
Citizens in Charge Foundstion
Coalition for the Future American Worker
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Concerned Veterans for America
Concerned Women for America
Declaration of Am. Renewal
Eagle Forum
FairTax
Family Research Council
Family Security Matters
Franklin Center for Gov't & Public Integrity
Freedom Works
Gingrich Productions
Global Incident Map
Great Americans
Gold Standard 2012 Project
Gun Owners of America (GOA)
Heritage Action for America
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Institute For Justice
Institute for Truth in Accounting
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Judicial Watch
Less Government
Media Reseach Center
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Right To Work Foundation
National Rifle Association (NRA)
National Rifle Association (NRA-ILA)
News Busters
O'Bluejacket's Patriotic Flicks
OathKeepers
Open Secrets
Presidential Prayer Team
Religious Freedom Coalition
Renew America
Ron Paul Institute
State Policy Network
Tax Foundation
Tax Policy Center
The Club for Growth
The Federalist
The Gold Standard Now
The Heritage Foundation
The Leadership Institute
Truth in Accounting
Union Facts



Blogs For Borders

Reject the United Nations

Adopt Our Troops in Prayer


Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11


FairTax Nation on FaceBook
Friends of Israel - Stand with Israel
Blog Feeds
Syndicated - Get the ARRA News Service feed Syndicated!
ARRA Blog Feed

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Add to The Free Dictionary

Powered by Blogger


  • To Exchange Links - Email: editor@arranewsservice.com!
  • Comments by contributing authors or other sources do not necessarily reflect the position the editor, other contributing authors, sources, readers, or commenters. No contributors, or editors are paid for articles, images, cartoons, etc. While having reported on and promoting beliefs associated with the former Arkansas Republican Assemblies (ARRA), this blog/site is controlled and supported by the editor. This site/blog does not advertise for money or services nor does it solicit funding for its support.
  • Fair Use: This site/blog may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material as provided for in section Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Per said section, the material on this site/blog is distributed without profit to readers to view for the expressed purpose of viewing the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. Any person/entity seeking to use copyrighted material shared on this site/blog for purposes that go beyond "fair use," must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
  • © 2006 - 2018 ARRA News Service
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.