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If the American colonists of 1776 had had the same attitude toward King George as the Republican Party leaders show towards would-be King Obama, we would all still be British subjects.

Criticize Obama’s policies? Yes, of course, they do that. But call his actions by the correct term – despotism – when he usurps congressional powers and imposes laws unilaterally by executive edict? No. They can’t use that word.

Draw up articles of impeachment citing his many unconstitutional acts? Unthinkable.

Criticizing Obama’s lawlessness without calling it what it is, unconstitutional and dictatorial, is like criticizing a bank robber as “anti-social” without bringing him to trial. He will probably ignore the criticism and go on robbing banks.

Obama will continue ignoring the constitutional separation of powers and continue expanding the reach of his administrative edicts as long as the Republican Party lets him get away with it. Why would he stop?

It is probably not coincidental that the only one of Obama’s unconstitutional acts that has been taken to the U.S. Supreme Court and reversed is the one that inconveniences and insults Congress itself – his illegal “recess appointments” while the Senate was not in recess. A half-dozen other unconstitutional acts of supreme arrogance have gone unchallenged.

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Republicans did not take Obama to court to halt his usurpation of legislative powers when he announced in June of 2012 that he would implement the Dream Act by administrative edict – because “Congress had failed to act.” They did not challenge him in court when he directed EPA to roll out new air quality standards not authorized by Congress. They did not challenge him when he announced the employer mandate in Obamacare would be delayed one year. They have not yet challenged the more recent announcement that other parts of Obamacare will also be delayed one year.

And Republicans conspicuously have not challenged Obama’s order to another federal agency, the Office of Personnel Management, to exempt the elected members of Congress and all congressional employees from the income limits on Obamacare’s subsidies. Unconstitutional lawmaking is apparently acceptable if it pads congressional pocketbooks.

One Republican senator, Marco Rubio, not only does not object to Obama’s acts on constitutional grounds, he wants to reward Obama’s behavior by giving him what he wants pre-emptively. Rubio suggested last week he thinks that since Obama will grant amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens by executive edict if Congress does not act, Congress must strike the best deal possible to avoid that Obama action. This cowardly logic is a total, abject surrender of any principled opposition to unconstitutional actions flowing from the White House.

This usurpation of constitutional lawmaking authority is not a matter of gaining some narrow partisan advantage by clever posturing or “messaging.” What is at stake here is the authority of the Constitution itself. If Obama’s use of dictatorial powers goes unchallenged, for all practical purposes, the Constitution is a dead letter.

All progressives since Woodrow Wilson have viewed the Constitution as an impediment to the aims of “scientific socialism,” so, the shelving of our charter of freedom would not cause any sleepless nights inside the White House, nor at Obama’s think tank, Progress Now, or MSNBC. But it should send Republicans running to the fire alarm.

Thus, the question for patriots is not why Obama is flexing his political muscle, ignoring the law and moving forward with his “transformational” agenda. That’s not a mystery: Obama has no moral qualms about ignoring or discarding constitutional limits on his powers. Obama does not see his powers limited to acting as chief executive, as described in the presidential Oath of Office. He also aspires to be the chief lawgiver.

Obama’s actions are so clearly illegal and disdainful of the Constitution that even pundits who are normally enamored of executive aggrandizement have begun to see the problem. But where is the Republican Party?

Republican leaders need to remember that the reason for the founding of the Republican Party in 1854 was not the existence of slavery in the South. It was caused by the change in the South’s justification of slavery and its insistence on the constitutional right to expand slavery to new territories. Abraham Lincoln understood that “a house divided cannot stand.” Neither can a house ruled by a tyrant.

Obama’s motives and ambitions are not at issue. The question millions of Americans are beginning to ask is – why are Republicans so reluctant to defend the constitutional separation of powers by directly challenging Obama’s usurpation of legislative powers? What issue today that is more important than preserving the Constitution itself?

Preserving the Constitution and the rule of law is more important than defunding Obamacare, more important than the debt ceiling and, yes, more important than blocking another amnesty. It is more important because without the rule of law, Obama can advance all of those policy goals – and more – by executive edict. Put simply, without the rule of law, elections are meaningless.

There was a time in America when policy differences did not invade the bipartisan respect and reverence for the Constitution, which was seen as the referee enforcing the rules. What too many Republicans have not yet grasped is that Obama and his progressive elites have never bought into that tradition, and they do not feel bound by those rules.

Republicans need to wake up and smell the arsenic.

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