Obama and the imperial presidency

Suhail Khan Institute for Global Engagement
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Efforts by American presidents to consolidate and centralize power are nothing new. FDR took full advantage of the Great Depression by vastly expanded his reach through the New Deal and, in an effort to preempt any check on his grab for federal power, cynically attempted to pack the U.S. Supreme Court. Nixon resigned in disgrace over Watergate. Clinton was impeached attempting to deny an American her rightful day in court. And so it’s no surprise that President Obama, even as a constitutional scholar, has shrewdly utilized his executive powers in implementing his transformational national agenda. What is startling, however, is the breathtakingly comprehensive scope of his reach into every facet of our lives. In their recently published and No. 1 bestselling book, “The Blueprint” (Lyons Press, 2010), authors Ken Blackwell (Ohio’s former secretary of state and conservative activist) and Ken Klukowski (a constitutional legal scholar) lay out the sheer breadth of President Obama’s power grab.

Countless pundits, historians and supporters have hailed President Obama as a transformational figure. In amazing detail, Blackwell and Klukowski outline President Obama’s plan to indeed transform our nation into a society dependent on the federal government, and in doing so, undermine our Constitution and America’s system of limited government.

Specifically, Blackwell and Klukowski identify and detail efforts undertaken by the Obama administration to fundamentally restructure and expand the reach of the federal government and thereby reduce individual liberty. Some of the tactics President Obama and his administration are implementing include:

  • Increasing Taxes: By shifting the nation’s tax burden to less than half of the population, President Obama is ensuring a majority of voters are dependent on government and have a vested interest in supporting higher taxes on others.
  • The Czars: In an effort to centralize power in the White House, President Obama has appointed scores of powerful executive officials who are not Senate-confirmed, are beyond congressional oversight, and therefore unaccountable to the American people.
  • Executive Orders: Circumventing the legislative process, President Obama is enacting significant administrative policy changes through executive orders.
  • The Courts: President Obama is appointing a new generation of judges to the courts who support expanded federal power and restrictions on individual liberty.
  • Health care: The just-passed healthcare bill strategically inserts the federal government in the basic decisions Americans make regarding their own health care.
  • Domestic Security: President Obama plans to expand federal security powers and has even suggested the creation of a civilian security force outside the military and law enforcement chains of command.
  • Stimulus: Letting no crisis “go to waste,” President Obama is using the billions in stimulus funds to redistribute wealth and expand the federal government, often without congressional approval.
  • “Cap and Trade”: Not only does the Obama administration’s carbon emission tax system kill jobs, it hands the federal government enormous power over the entire economy.
  • Guns: Using Chicago as a model, the Obama administration wants to fundamentally restrict the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
  • Elections: Hoping they’ll support his agenda of an expanded and centralized government, President Obama is pushing to allow the millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally to vote.
  • “Card Check”: With labor unions on the decline, President Obama is pushing to abolish the secret ballot in voting on whether to unionize–a measure which would undoubtedly lead to massive worker intimidation. Unions could force more workers to pay dues and use those funds to fund anti-free-market campaigns.

Additionally, key efforts include the politicization of the census, plans to limit free speech on talk radio and in campaigns, and the over-regulation (and in some cases take-over) of private corporations.

In 1787, just outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Mrs. Powell asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin responded, “a republic if you can keep it.” “The Blueprint” serves to expose efforts that seek to undermine our freedom and reminds us to remain vigilant. It’s been said before: elections have consequences. Freedom-loving Americans need to vote, to organize, seek elected office and, in short, continue to defend individual liberty. In doing so, we’ll ensure our cherished freedoms will be preserved in our time and for generations to come.

Suhail A. Khan serves on the Board of Directors for the American Conservative Union and as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, a Christian organization dedicated to religious freedom worldwide.