President Obama is relegating political decision-making to smoky backroom deals. And you're not invited.
According to the New York Times, the president has promised that more unilateral action is forthcoming, and activists and businesses are crowding up to the White House's backdoors in order to see what political privileges are being dispensed. The Old Grey Lady noted:
Mr. Obama’s increasingly expansive appetite for the use of unilateral action on issues including immigration, tax policy and gay rights has emboldened activists and businesses to flock to the administration with their policy wish lists. It also has opened the president, already facing charges of executive overreach, to criticism that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, with the potential to reward political backers at the expense of other interests, including some on the losing side who are threatening to sue.
Various groups have been invited to the White House to give their views, completely in private and invisible to the press, Congress, and the nation. Favored, progressive constituencies are helping the administration decide among themselves what the standards will be on one of the biggest issues facing our country.
The New York Times' Julie Hirschfeld Davis spared the niceties and called this deal-making out for what it was: "Policy Made Behind Closed Doors as Obama Acts Alone: As President Obama increasingly turns to unilateral action, activists and businesses are coming forward with wish lists."
There are three huge problems with this practice:
- Dangerous precedent. Lawmaking cannot just be about "our guy getting to do what he wants," because today's "our guy" isn't always going to be there. Be careful what you wish for, as the next "our guy" may be writing policy with which you may vehemently disagree.
- Concentrated power. Historically, the administrative branch executes policy voted on in Congress. 535 elected representatives hash out details and necessary compromises. The genius of the Constitutionally-mandated process ensures that change is slow and difficult. As a result, power is dispersed. Policies created and implemented by the executive branch are not subject to such controls.
- Corruption and cronyism. Imagine what would have to be done or whom one would have to know in order to be invited to give one's "views." Once invited, the opportunity for self-dealing is massive. Paybacks and kickbacks and playing-field tilting would be the rule. And imagine not being one invited: you are out.
Lord Acton pointed out, "And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Is this the kind of government we want? Regardless of your political perspective, this is not what our country's founders intended, and with a little bit of reflection, hopefully not what its current citizens want as well.