At the time of writing this article, President Joe Biden is just over a week into his term. He has signed 42 executive orders. These orders are wide-ranging in public policy objectives, from the economy to the environment, COIVD-19 issues, and even gender and identity politics issues. CNN (for what they are worth) has a pretty good list of the major executive orders here for your review.
The question we must ask, is why?
Democrats control all three branches of government, albeit by a relatively slim majority in both houses of Congress. Executive orders are not supposed to be used to make law. Article II of the Constitution is clear that the President executes the law, he doesn’t make it. Anyone who paid attention in their high school government class is well aware of this.
Yet there is not much anger from anyone about this circumvention of the legislative process. The people of America, even libertarians, seem resigned to this fate of more constitutional violations. The Biden administration’s actions may also indicate how little confidence the administration has in their colleagues at the Capitol to follow their agenda. Why abuse executive orders if Congress will pass your agenda legitimately?
The saturation of 42 executive orders, and counting, could mean something else: Biden has an incompetent West Wing staff. Could Biden’s appointees just be bad at building relationships, negotiation, and agenda setting? All of those are key skills for politics at any level, particular when in an executive office.
This idea may lend credibility to the notion that the Trump administration was more politically adept. After all, in spite of Trump’s bombastic personality and tendency to say the wrong thing, his administration still got things done politically. It is almost as if Biden and his staff and waived the white flag on traditional politics. I guess attitude “is to hell with that when you can violate the spirit of the Constitution instead.”
While I am not ready to declare Biden a dictator, his overuse of the executive order is further evidence of the continued lack of respect for the Constitution. It is a complete affront to the classical liberal foundations of the republic. The whole point of the separation of powers is to ensure that no branch of government seizes too much power and tyrannizes the people. It was supposed to be a compromise between having an all-powerful central government, and not having a central government at all.
As liberty-minded people, we must ask ourselves some questions: Has the system the framers made failed? Or have we simply failed the challenge laid out by Benjamin Franklin for us to keep our republic? When do we as classical liberals and libertarians get up and defend the republic by peaceful engagement and professional strategies? This abuse of the office of the President has been decades in the making. It comes from the failure of us, as the people, to defend our republic and liberty. If we don’t keep our republic and exercise our check on power as the people, who will?
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