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The greatest fear of America’s founders was the establishment of a strong central government and an ambitious, power-hungry political leader at the center of that government.
Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison had their fill of kings and dictators. They believed the best assurance against centralized authority was a loose association of sovereign states, which maintained most governmental power at the local level.
Further, the system of government established by these men at the federal level assured a separation of powers limiting the president’s role to the executive and prohibiting the office from usurping legislative power.
Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution thus provides: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
During his eight years in the White House, Bill Clinton systematically ignored that constitutional provision and misused his office to go over the heads of Congress, as his own aides explained, and institute his own legislative agenda through executive orders.
As Paul Begala explained in July 1998 in an interview in the Los Angeles Times: “Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool.”
Because of the tremendous opposition to many of those executive orders stirred mainly by the reporting of WorldNetDaily, Clinton was forced to withdraw or suspend some of the scariest – such as EO 13083, which would have annihilated the principles of federalism that have guided the nation for the last 200 years.
Others, however, have survived as policy two years into the Bush administration. One of the ugliest, EO 13166, is about to get a challenge in Congress.
Executive Order 13166 requires all government agencies and any entity that received federal funds to provide spontaneous translations – night and day – to anyone who needs them. Any programs and activities normally provided in English must be accessible to those with limited proficiency in English in the language of their choice.
In other words, without any public debate, without any basis in law, EO 13166 effectively made the inability to speak English a protected civil right.
Finally, someone in Congress is standing up to this insult to the legislative branch as well as the Constitution and the will of the people. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has introduced legislation to repeal EO 13166. His bill, H.R. 300, would effectively void 13166 as well as forbid the expenditure of any taxpayer funds to enforce it. This is a good start and an effort that deserves all of our support.
Yet, it’s just a start. All of Clinton’s executive orders need to be reviewed systematically by the Bush administration. With a stroke of the pen, President Bush can legally, constitutionally and morally overturn every single one. This is the most efficient way to ensure that illegal, inappropriate, unconstitutional and immoral executive orders do not stand as the law of the land, do not result in injustice and do not cause additional taxpayer funds to be squandered.
Further, Clinton’s executive orders policy needs to be repudiated by officials of both political parties. The current occupant of the White House and all future presidents should be on notice that they do not have the power to legislate, they do not have the power to go over the heads of Congress and they do not have the power to create law in the land with a stroke of the pen.
What do you call it when one man has such sweeping powers? You call it totalitarianism. You call it tyranny. You call it dictatorship. We must never allow another president to venture into those dangerous waters again. The only way we will avoid it is by exposing the abuses of the past.
President Clinton didn’t just get away with molesting a young intern in the Oval Office. He didn’t just get away with lying under oath. He didn’t just get away with corruption in Arkansas. He didn’t just get away with taking Chinese political contributions. He didn’t just get away with using the Internal Revenue Service as an attack dog on his political foes. He didn’t just get away with cover-ups that will take a generation to unravel.
He got away with subverting the Constitution. It must not be allowed to happen again.