Forget for just a moment the substance of the new illegal immigration policy President Obama announced on Friday. I’m not going to deal with that today. Instead, let’s concentrate on the constitutional and political angles. Last September, speaking to a Latino audience that wanted to know why he hadn’t done anything on the illegal immigration issue, Obama accurately noted that as president, he didn’t have the authority to unilaterally change immigration policy. He correctly stated that any policy change had to come from Congress. This was a remarkable statement from a man who normally couldn’t care less about the limits imposed on his office by the Constitution. But in this case, he was right.
Speed ahead to June 2012 and we now have a different story. Without any legislation, without any constitutional authority at all, the president has signed an executive order to alter how illegal immigration is handled. This move was a one-man show. It manifested blatant disregard for any constitutional restraint. He bypassed Congress entirely and simply announced that the policy was going to be different.
Frankly, this is how tyrants operate, outside the rule of law.
Not that there’s anything new about this. Consider one of Obama’s heroes, FDR. In the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt decided that every person in the country had to turn in all gold and currency backed by gold to the government. Just like Obama’s pronouncement last week, FDR simply signed an executive order—actually, a number of them—infamously ignoring the role of Congress in legislating, and forced everyone to turn over their gold. It all became government property. In exchange, citizens got federal reserve notes. FDR didn’t have to worry about congressional reaction; he owned Congress at that point. He set himself up as a petty dictator.
What will the current Congress do about Obama’s power play? We’ll have to wait and see if backbone still exists.
Why did he choose to do this at this time? That’s the political angle. Seeing how he is dropping in the polls, he saw this move as a way to shore up his Hispanic vote. In other words, he chose to shred the Constitution for his own political gain. I predict this is only the beginning of his pandering. He will offer goodies to other segments of the population in the coming weeks in an attempt to regain their support.
The real tragedy of this episode is that most Americans won’t even think about the unconstitutional nature of his action, and those groups he seeks to reward will gladly take the bribes without any regard to the rule of law or moral propriety. They will want what they consider to be “theirs.” As this dependent mentality spreads, we become less and less a nation with a moral foundation.
Can this descent into self-centered moral turpitude be arrested? Only if those of us who believe in moral foundations take a stand and continue to speak out and work for a reversal of the spiritual decline that has fed this destructive fever. Now is the time to show we still have spines.