'Here the People Rule'; Protests May Be a Portent of Things to Come

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

'Here the People Rule'; Protests May Be a Portent of Things to Come


Byline: Frank J. Gaffney Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

On CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday night, President Obama tried to allay concerns that his headlong rush to get a health care bill enacted defies the time-tested axiom that haste makes waste: I intend to be president for a while, and once this bill passes, I own it.

The comment may have been intended as just a colloquial way of describing the responsibility the chief executive will have for making the new health system work. Against the backdrop of myriad other aspects of this presidency, however, a more literal - and worrying - interpretation seems in order.

Mr. Obama's remark prompted a pointed response by Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol on the magazine's Web site: No, Mr. President. It's not about you. If legislation passes, you don't own it. We all own it. Any health care bill will become part of the U.S. Code, not simply an item on the Obama White House Web site. We will all feel its effects. We are all responsible for the future of our country. Here the people rule.

With those four words - Here the people rule - Mr. Kristol has identified what's most grievously wrong with Mr. Obama's agenda. In myriad ways, some great, some small, the new administration seems increasingly to be supplanting the nation's fundamental constitutional arrangements and the institutions built upon them. The trajectory is unmistakably in the direction of certain people ruling, specifically the president.

Reduced to its essence, the endangered order can be defined as a government of, by and for all the people, one rooted in the principle that power must be exercised, pursuant to the rule of law, in representative and accountable ways. Thanks to these constitutional arrangements and institutions, the people's rule here has been assured for more than 200 years.

In the place of such quintessentially American principles and practices, however, we increasingly confront the concentration of power over our economy and society in the hands of faceless federal bureaucracies and - worse yet - those of appointed and generally unvetted czars.

The checks and balances on the executive built by the Framers into the co-equal legislative branch have withered, particularly when the same political party controls the White House and both chambers on Capitol Hill. Legislation is routinely adopted without careful deliberation, let alone real debate. With increasing frequency, votes are taken without an opportunity afforded to lawmakers even to read the massive bills they are asked to approve. The only way one of the most controversial proposals ever considered by any Congress, namely Mr. Obama's reform of health care, will be approved is if the Senate disregards its own traditions and rules designed to protect the rights of the minority.

Perhaps even more worrying is the embrace by Team Obama of a still greater affront to American sovereignty and self-governance: transnationalism. …

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