Congress’ last chance to stem dictatorship

By Tom Tancredo

Republican leadership in Congress continues to pour cold water on any proposal to launch an impeachment investigation. The irony is that their weak response to President Obama’s unconstitutional actions has the unintended effect of making impeachment all but inevitable.

By all reports, President Obama is moving full speed ahead on his plans for another, broader “executive amnesty,” this one to grant legal status to at least 5 million illegal aliens. Even many Democrats who support the goals of the amnesty agree that doing it by executive decree goes beyond the president’s legitimate authority.

Water flows downhill, and Obama’s progressive ideology moves into any vacuum. The Republican leadership in Congress have created a vacuum by three years of refusals to confront Obama on his unconstitutional actions. A threatened lawsuit is as toothless and meaningless as a goldfish dumped into an alligator pond.

It is the Republican failure to counter Obama that is pushing our nation into a real constitutional crisis. The U.S. Constitution provides a clear remedy for confronting a rising dictatorship. It is the refusal to employ constitutional remedy that is provoking a crisis.

And trust me on this: When the rule of law is in retreat, the rule of force is ascendant. If dictatorship in America ever comes to be seen as our inevitable fate, there will be unpleasant consequences beyond lawsuits, third parties, and exploding gun and ammunition sales.

Some Republican leaders are turning to gallows humor as a way to deflect a rising animus among the American people. When asked how he felt about impeachment, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy replied, “Have you met Joe Biden?” OK, that’s cute. We can all have a good laugh at the idea of Joe Biden sitting in the Oval Office, but in 1974, the prospect of Gerald Ford in the White House did not stop any Democrat from demanding the impeachment of Richard Nixon.

If anyone has any doubt about the Republican leadership’s self-chosen impotency, they need only consider their response to the proposal from 50 Republican congressmen, led by Matt Salmon of Arizona. They propose to defund the administrative amnesty through an amendment to the House Continuing Resolution, the short-term budget bill that must be passed by the lame duck session of Congress before adjourning for the year. “Oh, gee, that might result in a presidential veto and then a deadlock and a government shutdown.” Oh, horrors!

Here’s a news flash: When you surrender all of your other legitimate legislative tools for challenging presidential arrogance and blocking dictatorial, unconstitutional actions, you are left with … what? You are left with impeachment. The calls for impeachment will grow louder as other means of blocking Obama are abandoned.

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Yes, we all know – or should know – from our high school civics class that impeachment is an extreme measure, a last resort provided by the Constitution when a president refuses to follow the law or has violated the law in a serious manner. But that is exactly where we find ourselves because the Republican leadership has never wanted to confront Obama on his unconstitutional behavior.

We should not care one whit what kind of president Joe Biden would make – because it is impossible to conceive Biden could do worse damage to the Constitution than Obama is certain to do in the 26 months remaining in his presidency. In fact, it’s easy to see a very good political argument for welcoming a Biden presidency: Would Republicans rather run in 2016 against incumbent Joe Biden – who would have to defend the record of a presidency that ended in impeachment – or against Hillary Clinton? Is that a hard choice?

I mention that possible “Biden scenario” only to show that the politics of the impeachment decision must be kept subordinate to the fundamental constitutional issues involved. Those issues are bound up in this question: What are the consequences for constitutional government and individual liberty in America if Congress does not impeach and remove Barack Obama in the face of blatantly unconstitutional actions?

There is a dangerous and all-too-visible precedent being set by this wimpish refusal in Congress to utilize the impeachment article of the Constitution.

Is there nothing Obama could do in his remaining 26 months that would persuade even Democrats to consider impeachment? Is Congress willing – by its silence – to declare Obama immune from impeachment no matter that he does? Does anyone believe that immigration is the only area where Obama will employ his “executive action” to achieve legislative goals he cannot get through Congress? Can you spell unilateral disarmament?

The ultimate question for Republican leaders is the same question we must all ask of our elected representatives: Is America ready for an official obituary to the rule of law?

Media wishing to interview Tom Tancredo, please contact [email protected].

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