Representative Democracy by Waiver?
Once upon a time the King decided who was subject to royal edicts. We changed that with a revolution that won representative democracy based on the bedrock principle of “consent of the governed”. The “Rule of Law” holds that all citizens are equally subject to laws enacted by representatives of the people. Barack Obama has done more to fracture this keystone of our representative democracy than almost any other President in American history.
This President, who has vowed to “transform America”, thinks the Constitution is a flawed document and has acted accordingly. Administration “waivers” look a lot like royal decrees that pick and choose which laws will be enforced and which favored citizens will live above the laws that others must obey.
In the imperial presidency of Barack Obama, passage of ObamaCare was without consent of the governed. Most Americans objected even before the promises of no new taxes on the middle class were proven false by the Supreme Court. Doubling down on this dangerous public policy path, four million citizens–mostly union members–have been granted waivers from ObamaCare since enactment.
Mr. Obama found standing immigration laws inconvenient to his sense of justice–and his re-election ambitions–so, with the wave of his royal hand, he decreed that 1.5 million illegal immigrants will no longer be subject to those federal laws. States like Arizona who insist on protecting their borders and enforcing federal law have become the target of Mr. Obama’s Justice Department.
Tired of waiting for duly elected representatives of the people to revisit the No Child Left Behind Act, this Administration decided that the law could be ignored. Now 33 states have been granted waivers from existing law in exchange for vows of fealty to Mr. Obama’s Department of Education. Like other waivers granted, “flexibility” is the justification offered for selective enforcement of the law.
Welfare work rules? They proved a monumentally successful policy reform embraced by both parties and strong majorities in both the House and Senate. These majorities represented widespread public belief that welfare payments were undermining an American work ethic and actually increasing poverty and dependency. This President has decided that this law, like others, is optional, shifting the entire concept of the Rule of Law and the will of the people to the discretion of a federal agency.
Barack Obama began his Presidency not with a focus on the struggling economy but with his ambition to enact a new healthcare entitlement. At the center of his pitch to the American people was the promise that national healthcare would reduce healthcare costs and that no new taxes would be levied on the also struggling middle class. Not only have these promises proven false but he recently authorized the IRS to write regulations enabling penalties and subsidies through HHS established state healthcare exchanges although there is zero legislative authority for this in the law.
This President has shown through his many actions that he believes that consent of the governed is an outmoded and inconvenient idea that can be ignored. Congress can be ignored. The Constitution that he is sworn to uphold and the Attorney General is sworn to enforce is optional. Laws can be selectively applied and if that shifts power from representatives elected by the people to federal agencies and the White House–why not?
We kicked royalty out of our country long ago but the “efficiency” of royal decrees is here again. This is exactly how representative democracy is cast aside and the nation transformed.
Ken Hoagland is chairman of “Restore America’s Voice Foundation”. His group has delivered two million petitions and hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the House and Senate demanding a new Senate vote on ObamaCare that honestly describes both the taxes levied for the program and the performance promises that have proven false.