Yes we can! Catch cry in the 2008 Obama presidential campaign
By Roger Childs
Most Americans woke up this morning wondering why the shallow Donald Trump, who so many had said was unfit for high office, was now President of the United States. However, he may have lost the personal vote by nearly three million to Hillary Clinton, but under the electoral college system, enshrined in the constitution, he won comfortably.
In his inauguration speech and earlier pronouncements, Trump made it clear that he was the man who would solve all America’s problems, sweep away Obama policies and take on the federal establishment on behalf of the people.
However, he is now part of the political establishment. He had also been very critical of Wall St and big business, however many of his cabinet and advisors have been selected from the corporations and the Washington elite.
He has sworn in his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This 230 year old document may actually save America, and the world, from the worst excesses of Trumpism.
Checks and balances
The constitution was carefully devised by the founding fathers to establish a democratic republic, and prevent the president from becoming a dictator. As every American school student knows, they set up a governing system which involved a “separation of powers” between
- the legislature: the two houses of Congress which make the laws
- the executive: the president and his cabinet who administer the laws
- the judiciary: headed by the Supreme Court which interprets the laws
For example, all laws (legislation) must be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president; the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional; the president can veto a law, but this may be over-ruled by a two thirds vote in Congress.
So Republican President Trump cannot just introduce major policies without Congressional backing. It is true that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have Republican majorities, (this could change in the 2018 elections), but Congress will resist any attempts by Trump to subvert their powers.
However, there is a process whereby a president can, to some degree, do what he/she wants.
Executive orders: exerting presidential power
Executive Orders (EOs) are legally binding orders given by the President, acting as the head of the Executive Branch, to Federal Administrative Agencies. Executive Orders are generally used to direct federal agencies and officials in their execution of congressionally established laws or policies. This Nation.com
Fundamentally it is way of speeding up administering the laws of the land, but it can be a means for the president to implement pet projects, carry out foreign policy or get around opposition from Congress.
Barack Obama issued 260 EOs, far less than his predecessors George W Bush and Bill Clinton. For example in the last few months he pardoned whistle-blower Chelsea Manning and set aside land (monument status) in Utah and Nevada for the Cherokee people. (See Leslie Clague’s January 6 article An Obama Environmental Legacy)
No hesitation in picking up the pen
Donald Trump is well aware of the power of executive orders and was immediately in action after the inauguration to fulfil his promise to start the death process of Obamacare.
So his first EO was Minimizing the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal.
No-one regarded Obamacare as being perfect, but it did extend medical insurance to over 20 million people. The system is complicated, but what will replace it?
The new president’s pen is also poised to quickly overturn other enactments by his predecessor from gun control to environmental protection. All in the quest to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
Trump’s use of EOs will be interesting and he may create a record! Hopefully Congress and the Supreme Court will be keeping a careful eye on how he uses his powers as president.
Will the separation of powers keep President Trump in check? Time will tell, but it could be a long four years.