This Thanksgiving Republicans should give thanks for President Obama. This man has destroyed a Democrat coalition that looked unstoppable in 2008. Wonks and gurus from the New York Times and the Ivy League Schools kept assuring us that the “Emerging Democratic Majority” was unstoppable and their favorite trope that “Demographics is Destiny” guaranteed that the identity politics of the American left would only continue to build upon its sweeping success in 2006 and 2008.
Reality has not been kind to these predictions. Half of the senators who voted for Obamacare are now gone while the Democrats have lost nearly seventy seats in the House of Reprenstatives. When Obama came to office there were eight more Democrat governors than Republican governors. Now there are fourteen more Republican governors than Democrat governors in this country.
The real gift to conservatives, however, came just last week when the President announced that henceforth he will use the executive branch’s “prosecutorial discretion” to “prioritize resources” to effectively stop the enforcement of our immigration laws in four to five million cases where he would prefer to see them repealed.
This might not, at first, appear like something to be grateful for. For all the President’s oratory the timing of his announcement reeks of political opportunism. The decision itself is blatant abuse of executive power. His own former press secretary has acknowledged that he is doing “literally” what he has previously promised not to do and insisted he cannot do without abusing executive power. The President will only get away with this because the constitution requires a two thirds majority to really hold the executive branch accountable for abuse of power and Obama’s political supporters (who still make up over 40% of the country and the senate) will stand by him.
But while the President undoubtedly undermined the rule of law and the nature of the Republic there is a pretty bright silver lining in all of this. Obama has just created a precedent that can be used to dismantle just about any government program that a future Republican president might care to take apart with or without the support of Congress.
Suppose in 2017 that President Ryan/Paul/Bush/Cruz/Rubio/etc is frustrated with a Democrat filibuster in the senate preventing him from lowering the corporate tax rate. No problem, all the president has to do is announce that he will use his “prosecutorial discretion” to direct the IRS to “prioritize resources” away from enforcement of the corporate income tax. A future Republican President might have trouble getting through Congress a repeal of the individual insurance mandate, the employer mandate, or the requirement that insurance companies sell insurance to people who are already sick (thus making it not really insurance). No problem, all he has to do is announce that he will direct the Department of Justice to “prioritize resources” away from enforcement of any of these aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Problem solved.
Under the new precedent Obama created last week the President still doesn’t have the power to single-handedly create a law or government program but he can effectively repeal/eliminate any law or government program by announcing he doesn’t want to enforce it. All he has to do is make sure he has 1/3 of one of the chambers of congress supporting him (to block impeachment). This is like a retro-active line-item veto… only even more powerful. If there was actually any truth to the Democrats’ incessant accusation that Republicans wanted to end Social Security and Medicare the next Republican president would be able to do so immediately by suspending enforcement of the payroll taxes.
This may not be how a constitutional Republic is supposed to work but, you have to admit, the new rules are likely to be a lot more helpful to those of us who are seeking to reduce the size and scope of the federal government than they are to those who seek to expand them.
So when you gather with your family on Thursday give thanks for President Obama. Give thanks for his short-sighted abuse of power and give thanks for his supporters who apparently, despite recent elections, cannot imagine the possibility that they might ever lose the White House.