24 May 2011
Uncommon Commentary #187: If He Signs the Order, the Only Thing Contracting Will Be the Similarity Between the USA and a Free Country
Emperor Nerobama is getting deserved criticism (even from some fellow Democrats) over a potential executive order, which would compel businesses that contract with the federal government to disclose contributions to candidates and causes made both currently and over the past two years (i.e., retroactive to our transformation into the Obama Nation), and would prohibit such companies from exercising their US-Supreme-Court-affirmed right to be politically active. Objections to this particular proposal have been made on the grounds that its only possible purpose would be to identify, and thereby intimidate, contractors who are also detractors (that is, who make donations frowned upon by the present presidential administration); this is certainly true, but there's a more general reason to oppose executive orders of this sort (v.i.), which reason I have not heard mentioned by anyone, unless it be the subject of the Professional Services Council's imprecise reference to the order's "dubious legality."
The controversy started me wondering just what an "executive order" is anyway. Research into the matter revealed that the term applied originally to an order given by the US president in the course of administering the executive branch of the US government, which branch he heads; they were exercises of executive power rather than usurpations of legislative power. Most executive orders have fit into the former category, and can be likened to instructions that a mistress of a household might give her maid on the frequency of changing bedsheets. Progressively, though, our chief executives, especially serial abusers of authority such as Franklin Roosevelt, Clinton, and Obama, have deformed something innocuous into a means of unconstitutionally issuing de-facto laws. (In recognition of this, one left-wing organization, the Soros-funded Institute for Policy Studies, put out a report that urged Obama to bypass Congress and henceforward rule exclusively by executive order, viz., by decree.) What's execrable about Obama's draught fiat (which may not even be the most outrageous example in history) is not just its partisan quality but also the very fact of its intrusion into the legislative sphere.
Even I, cynical though I've long been about the (mal)functioning of the US government, was shocked to learn of the perversion of executive orders, and, even more so, to realize that this deceitful practice has won tacit acceptance. Our president is called the chief executive because his true rôle is to execute laws enacted by Congress, rather than to enact laws himself. I'm no Founder-worshipper, but, if we're going to call this country a "democracy" anyway, we might as well try to ensure that its governance according to the US Constitution is the fact as well as the theory. Conversely, if we're to continue to run the USA in such a way that the Revolutionaries wouldn't recognize it, we ought to perhaps change the spelling of the second syllable in "democracy" to "mock."