During the past eight-years the President and the Democratic Party took measures to by-pass the historical precedents and constitutional limitations of government as they strove to implement their vision of the future on the nation. The phase President Obama used was “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone”[i] as he talked about implementing those policies he thought were in the best interest of the nation.
When frustrated by political gamesmanship in getting judges approved by the Senate, Harry Reid and his fellow Democratic senators implemented what has been called the “nuclear option,”[ii] eliminating the historical ability of a Senator to filibuster a Presidential appointment and block its approval until the filibustering Senator is appeased, or the nomination withdrawn.
Both of these actions met some tactical need for the party in power, but brought with them significant strategic risk. That risk was realized when their candidate failed to secure the necessary electoral votes and fell well short to Mr. Trump who carried with him sufficient Republicans to gain control of the Senate.
As we enter into the new era it does not bode well for the liberal side as Mr. Trump now has the ability to rule by pen and executive order just as Mr. Obama chose to. As political scientists are fond of saying Democracy is a messy and inefficient form of government. Control by a single entity (I’ll leave the choice of terms for you) is more efficient in achieving action, but carries with it the potential for loss of our constitutional safeguards.
It strikes me as we move forward in this new era we seem to be moving along the lines of the Roman Republic, as it became the Roman Empire. Will we shift the office of the President from one of the three equal branches of government to the supreme branch? That certainly appeared to be the intent under the past administration, and I suspect will be the easiest course of action for the new President.
This has already begun as the news highlights of his first workday in office is his undoing of many of President Obama’s directions (i.e. Executive Orders).
If the news is to be believed – during the next two years the President will be able to nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice, and a significant number of lower court justices (making conservative justices a majority in most courts) with Republican approval. Leaving the Democratic Party powerless to do anything but bluster and condemn in a media that supported their actions in the first place.
The next two years will be interesting, as well as telling to see if we are moving further from the Republic envisioned by our founders, or if the safeguards of our Constitution are able to resist the shift to emperor.