Within his first two weeks in office, President Biden has signed an unprecedented number of executive orders—47.
Writing for Quartz (1/31/21), Amanda Shendruk notes, “Joe Biden has been US president for less than two weeks and has already issued nearly as many executive action as Trump and Obama did in the same period, combined.” [Emphasis hers]
- “Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad.” The Mexico City Policy. Translation: abortions in other countries, paid for by you and me.
- “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” Boys identifying as girls can use the women’s restroom and locker-room. And bye-bye, women’s sports.
- “Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States.” Translation: We will not discriminate against would-be immigrants, including violent jihadists.
- “Paris Climate Agreement” and “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” With the stroke of his pen, he has already cost thousands of U.S. jobs in a move based on questionable scientific premises.
And on it goes with a radical agenda.
Even the editorial board of The New York Times (1/27/21) published an op-ed: “Ease Up on the Executive Actions, Joe.” They said, “legislating through Congress is a better path.”
One politician pointed out that to govern by executive orders makes us more of a dictatorship than a democracy. “We need consensus,” said he. He also observed: “I have this strange notion. We are a democracy. Some of my Republican friends and some of my Democratic friends even say: well if you can’t get the votes, by executive order you’re going to do something, things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator.”
Who said these things? Then-candidate Joe Biden in a town hall with George Stephanopoulis on October 15, 2020.
Into the third week of the Biden presidency, it appears to be the third term of President Obama. The 44th president once famously declared: “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone, and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”
In other words, if the people’s representatives (in the House and Senate) don’t act quickly enough or do what I want them to do, then I’ll issue executive orders to get my will done. Biden is continuing this tradition—and then some. He has slim majorities in both the House and Senate, but he is bypassing even them.
One doctrine the founding fathers of America seemed to agree upon is revealed in the Bible and proven by all history—that man is a sinner. Therefore, power was to be separated into three distinct branches of government. As James Madison, a key architect of the Constitution, once put it, “All men having power ought to be distrusted.”
Madison also observed (in Federalist #47): “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
What Biden, and Obama before him, have engaged in could be called “executive overreach.”
Tim Goeglein, the D. C. representative of Focus on the Family, once said of such overreach:
“This is unconstitutional, and it’s not what our founders wanted.”
Randy Barnett, a professor at Georgetown Law and the author of Our Republican Constitution, once told me, “All three branches of government are supposed to be our servants, not our masters.”
But I asked him, “Haven’t times changed and thus circumstances changed?”
He answered, “Well, human nature has not changed. Human nature is, the idea that people basically pursue their self-interests—even if that interest is adverse to the rights of fellow people, other follow citizens, or adverse to the public interest. And you needed a republican Constitution to constrain the exercise of government and power.”
All presidents have the right to sign executive orders. And virtually all of them have used that right. But critics note that this is excessive—and not a healthy example of representative government. In effect, it is an end-run around “we the people.”
Calvin Coolidge, one of our most underrated presidents, said, “Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will….The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.”
Goeglein, who worked for the Bush 43 administration, said of the founders, “They designed a system that pushed power downward and outward because they feared centralization of power, and they feared the consolidation of power.”
Hopefully, Biden’s pen will run out of ink sometime soon.© Jerry Newcombe
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.