Thursday, December 29, 2011

Executive Orders - Liberty or Expediency

ex·ec·u·tive or·der
A rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law.

On the very first day I will sign an executive order...”
© 2011 by Mrs. Juli Iles   
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”

We all know that our government has problems...and a lot of them. We all agree that these problems need to be solved. The question is: How?  Is the most expedient way necessarily the best way, or does it set a precedent which could lead to gross misuse of power? Many promises are made on the campaign trail, in the heat of the moment, with the terminology of the day, but when the dust settles what is at the heart of the politician?

If you read Article III of the Constitution, which outlines the Executive Branch, you will not see the term “Executive Order” in it. What we now call Executive Orders were only named in 1907 when they started being numbered for records. Originally Executive Orders were used by the President and cabinet officers to administrate the Executive branch itself and its agencies, they did not affect the people. Through time Executive Orders became a presidential privilege and started affecting the people as presidents found that Executive Orders could be used to “get things done”. The problem was that these Presidents lost sight of the Enumerated Powers that the Constitution specifically authorized. They began to take action in every area that was not specifically prohibited by the Constitution. President Cleaveland issued 71 executive orders, McKinley issued 51, and then there was Theodore Roosevelt who issued 1,006 Executive Orders. Woodrow Wilson issued more than 1,700 Executive Orders, during World War 1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt currently holds the record at 3,466 Executive Orders. During the Great Depression and World War 2, Executive Orders became so numerous and “normal” that they became generally accepted by Americans. The Executive Orders “official” count had reached 12,498 by January 1985, it is unknown how many orders there really are in total.

"The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes." - Thomas Paine

Is the Executive Branch making the Legislative Branch irrelevant? Are we being drawn in by words that entice? Will we be so infatuated with “getting things done” that we allow this usurpation of power by the executive branch “just this once” or because it's “for a good cause”?

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" Ronald Reagan

The Legislative Branch does have problems, but it's our responsibility as citizens to keep an eye on our representatives and vote them out if they do not hold to our principles, values, and ideals. We see in Exodus 18 that a representative form of government is Godly, and Jethro said that Moses judging everything alone was “not good”. We also see in 1 Samuel 8 that the Israelites wanted a king 
“that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” This displeased God and he explained what would happen if the Israelites had a king. This list of things that would happen is extremely similar to the grievances against the King, laid out in the Declaration of Independence.

So today we have a choice. Do we elect someone who will “fight our battles” through Executive Order “On the first day”, or do we continue to labor for liberty and not allow the Executive Office to consume the Legislative and Judicial branches? Do we want a king or a republic?

"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." - William Penn © 2011 by Mrs. Juli Iles  

List of Executive Orders: Federal Register

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