Could the unthinkable actually happen, a King of America?
The United States Constitution gives specific powers and duties to the Executive Branch of government, including the Office of the President. The constitutional system is designed to give a structure of checks and balances, to ensure that no one branch of government has the opportunity to take over and disable the function of the other two.
However, over the passage of time, many situations, never really considered by the Founding Fathers, have blurred the lines that seemed so clear back in the 18th century. Past Presidents, and the current one, have used their office to selectively enforce some of the laws passed by Congress, and in some cases chosen to ignore the enforcement of certain laws.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Branch has stood idly by and allowed this usurpation of their powers granted under the Constitution until we hardly know who is actually in charge anymore. And it’s not left versus right, Democrat versus Republican, or any other ideology that has taken us down this slippery road.
Let’s look at the specific powers the Constitution gives to the President. First, he is designated as the commander-in-chief of the military, including the National Guard forces of the individual states when called into service to the nation. However, the ability to declare war was not given to the Executive Branch, but rather to Congress.
A number of wars have taken place in Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places since 1942, when the last official declaration of war was issued. None of these were official wars, but many American soldiers have been lost in the battles of these unofficial conflicts.
The President is responsible for making sure that all the country’s laws are faithfully executed. The power to actually make laws was given to the Legislative, and the Executive was charged with the enforcement of the enacted provisions. Past Presidents have used executive orders to circumvent this duty, by instructing the responsible departments to enforce or ignore the enforcement of the acts, depending upon whether the laws support the current President’s position.
The President was given the power to set foreign policy, but any treaties made must be confirmed by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. How is that working out?
The President appoints ambassadors and officers of the United States, all the way up to Supreme Court justices, pending confirmation of the Senate. The appointments consistently fall along party lines, because in a grid-locked Congress, confirmation is an arduous process which prevents many fine judges and appointees from seeking and receiving a nomination.
Such appointments strong-armed thorough the Senate along a partisan divide, gives strength to the presiding President, in that the Court has become an activist wing, prone to interpret the Constitution through the colored glasses of their particular political leanings.
President Obama, boasting that he had a phone and a pen, and would use them if Congress failed to enact meaningful legislation, did just that through the use of executive orders. Now, with President Trump in office, the same thing is being done to undo Obama’s orders and initiate executive orders of his own. All the while, Congress continues to fail to live up to its constitutional duty to legislate.
Where is this all headed? We aren’t there yet, but it seems we are headed to a system of government that consists of a temporary King, elected by the people every four years, but almost unlimited by the checks and balances the constitution provides.
The phone and the pen will become the instruments of lawmaking and enforcement, and the courts will replace lawmakers by making ideological interpretations into “laws of the land.” Seems too far-fetched? Maybe, but in today’s political climate, who is to say?
We may be witnessing the birth of a nation; the Temporary Kingdom of America.