A legislature of one

3 items from yesterday’s reaction to the president’s executive order re: immigration.

The Wall Street Journal thinks it will “roil” American politics and create a laboring class with no prospects of citizenship and no incentive to assimilate.

President Obama ’s decision to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants by his own decree is a sorry day for America’s republic. We say that even though we agree with the cause of immigration reform. But process matters to self-government—sometimes it is the only barrier to tyranny—and Mr. Obama’s policy by executive order is tearing at the fabric of national consent…

The Reagan and Bush precedents cited by the Obama lawyers are different in kind and degree. They involved far fewer people and they were intended to fulfill the policy set by Congress—not, as Mr. Obama intends, to defy Congress. That is why their actions were done with little controversy.  Mr. Obama is issuing his order amid furious political opposition and after his own multiple previous declarations that he lacks legal authority…

The Washington Examiner thinks prosecutoral priorities aren’t changing (BHO’s order applies to none of the groups currently being deported), but what is changing is that…

Obama is cynically picking a political fight that he thinks will help build his legacy, expand his own executive power, and solidify his party’s position with a crucial voting bloc.

Obama’s argument that he needed to do this because Congress failed to act is particularly galling. Obama once had a Congress that could have passed immigration reform, but he did not consider it enough of a priority to expend any political capital until after the last election of his presidency. Having lacked the courage to address the issue when he could have done it according to America’s constitutional process, he has made himself a legislature of one.

As Obama knows all too well, his action makes a bipartisan immigration bill – whose effect would last beyond the end of his presidency – a near-impossibility politically. And this is, of course, the entire of point of Obama’s action. He sees a potential benefit in the political rancor it will create and the coming clash with Republicans. This is the triumph of political cynicism to which Obama has sacrificed a permanent immigration reform law.

Many Americans will be upset by Obama’s action. But those awaiting long-term or permanent relief from America’s ridiculously restrictive immigration laws should know and understand that they suffered a huge defeat last night, all in the interest of advancing one man’s legacy and one political party’s future prospects.

Stanley Kurtz over at The Corner thinks “’I dare you to impeach me’ is being normalized as both a governing strategy and a political tactic.”

Conservatives have been highlighting the prospect that some future Republican president might turn the tables on Democrats and abuse executive discretion for conservative ends. This is partly a way of frightening Democrats into abandoning their dangerous game, and partly an expression of horror at the onrushing constitutional crisis. Yet Democrats for the most part have been licking their chops at the prospects of rule by executive diktat. Sad to say, Hillary shares their eagerness.

For a hundred years the progressive left has yearned to dispense with the Constitution’s various safeguards against precipitous, faction-driven change. Victory is in sight. Obama has broken the constitutional taboo and Hillary has embraced his precedent.

Why should Democrats preoccupy themselves with fears of Republican autocracy when they’re inches away from 6 to 10 continuous years of liberation from constitutional restraint? The lure of fundamental transformation outweighs any fear of frustration or reversal under a Republican president. With the GOP House already blocking Obama, and Democratic control over Congress unlikely to be restored at least until after the next census, abuse of executive discretion is the only way out for America’s newly emboldened and ambitious left.



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One Response to A legislature of one

  1. Paul Marks says:

    Very few States require actual proof of citizenship to vote. Kansas is one of the few States that does – might be worth a look.

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