Late last year, President Obama began his "we can't wait" campaign, which was a series of political maneuvers to circumvent Congress and implement his radical agenda. Through the "we can't wait" initiative, the President has acted not only as executive but also as legislature and judiciary.
The President's agenda has stalled in Congress for the last two years but not, as the President claims, because of Republican partisanship. On the contrary, many Senate Democrats are refusing to risk their careers by voting for Obama's initiatives following the bruising the Democrats suffered in the 2010 midterm elections.
In the face of this growing opposition to his agenda, President Obama has decided to take matters in his own hands. "We can't wait" is a concerted effort by the White House to circumvent Congress and ignore the Constitution in order to implement the President's plans.
The President has employed several tactics to override Congress and undermine the Constitution:
In January, President Obama declared the Senate in recess so he could make "recess appointments" to put many of his radical nominees in key positions in government. The Constitution is very clear that the Senate must be in an actual recess for this to occur. The President's move demonstrated that his partisan agenda is far more important to the President than preserving the Constitution's system of checks and balances.
Another way the Obama Administration has bypassed Congress is by ignoring the laws that Congress has passed. Last year, President Obama instructed his Justice Department to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In this case, President Obama has used his judgment to ignore the legislative decisions of Congress and of his predecessor, President Clinton, who signed the bill into law. President Obama's determination of Constitutionality also strips the Courts of their role to uphold or strike down the law. With this decision, the President has usurped the roles of both Congress and the Courts.
In June of this year, President Obama announced another area of law that his administration will ignore: immigration. President Obama's Homeland Security Department has announced that it will ignore federal immigration laws and instead write its own immigration policy to extend amnesty to more than one million people. Among Congress's enumerated powers is the power to set rules of immigration and naturalization. President Obama is acting to circumvent both Congress's power and the will of the American people in this area.
When Congress refused to pass Obama's job-killing cap-and-trade legislation, the President instructed his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin implementing key components of the legislation anyway. Where Congress has refused to grant authority to the EPA, the President has chosen to do give it to the agency.
In some instances, the Obama Administration's actions have directly conflicted with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution's design for individual liberty. Earlier this year, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services unilaterally determined that the all employers – including Catholic and other religious charities – must provide contraception coverage for all employees, even if it violates their religious beliefs. Religious freedom must now take a backseat to the Obama agenda, too.
The system of checks and balances, which has so frustrated the Obama administration, was envisioned by the Founders as one of the most essential safeguards on liberty. A government system with divided power, wherein each branch had authority to hold the others in check, was an intentional design to protect individual liberty. President Obama's dictatorial style of governance, with Presidential edicts and unelected bureaucrats who write laws, may be more efficient than the Founders' cautious system of checks and balances, but it also far more dangerous.
President Obama's actions – from "recess" appointments when the Senate is not in recess, to ignoring DOMA and federal immigration laws, to repeatedly defying Congress – indicate that he believes there really are no limits on Presidential power. And when Congress, the Courts, and state governments have attempted to put the brakes on his plans, President Obama has overridden them and gone forward with his plans anyway.
In the name of efficiency, President Obama has expanded his role as Chief Executive to include the duties of both the legislative and the judiciary branches. Time and again he has avoided accountability by circumventing the Constitution's system of checks and balances. But in November, voters will have the opportunity to serve as the irrefutable check on his expansive powers.