Monthly Archives: January 2016

Obama, Executive Orders, and Aristotle’s Stages of Government


The following article discusses the use of executive orders by President Obama. Donald Trump has said that he had no idea there was such a thing as an executive order and that he will repeal any attempt to limit gun ownership laws by an executive order (https://www.yahoo.com/politics/gop-targets-president-obamas-plan-for-executive-182618605.html). Some partisan media sites have stated that Obama has issued more EO’s than any other pres in history. The fact is that that honor goes to FD Roosevelt, with almost three times the number of any other president. He averaged 307 per year (note that there are only 365 days in a year) (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/orders.php). Since 1980, the highest number was issued by Ronald Reagan, who had a comparatively small 381 in his entire presidency. Obama has averaged 33 per year, a number that is lower than both Clinton and Bush II, who left office with a total of 291. To see the horrific depth of the misrepresentation of the facts regarding this, please have a look at the following article by factcheck.org. (http://www.factcheck.org/2012/09/obamas-executive-orders/)
Sites such as Snopes.com deserve to be discredited:(https://www.google.com/url…).

More concerning than the numbers though should be the way in which such orders are used by the President. This cuts across party lines and has to do with a problem emerging over the balance of power in the government. A political science professor I once had at SFSU made the claim that the executive branch in the Bush years began to cede power from congress and was beginning to take on more of an imperial look. One now hears voices in the GOP and right wing media calling Obama an “imperial” president. The underlying problem for Obama has been the consistent inaction of congress to even take up his proposed bills. The fact is that the 113th congress will be the least productive in history (see chart here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/president-obama-said-the-…/). Some might call the current EO, which seems to infringe upon the power of the Supreme Court to interpret laws an imperialistic abuse of power. If not one has to wonder whether the precedent set will be abused in the future. A further question is whether the president ought to take such unilateral action in a climate of desperate inaction. If not, should he undertake action when the added layer of the possibility of lobbyists (NRA, big business (oil, pharma, big health care) having a significant impact upon legislation is present? In other words, if the government has become dysfunctional should the President be granted the right to make it work? To do so might ultimately mean a threat to democracy in the sense of a government where the power ultimately in the representation of the citizenry. Perhaps there is some insight here into the way in Democracies move toward Monarchy onto tyrrany.

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