Process Matters

My first column for the Forum News Service published over the weekend – here’s a link to the Fargo Forum’s publication of it. In it I defended Congressman Kevin Cramer’s suggestion that President Barack Obama’s gun control announcement could prompt a troubling reaction from the public.

The thrust of my argument is that process matters. Equally as troubling as the content of Obama’s policy changes in the manner in which he’s changing policy, through executive fiat and not the legislative process in which our elected representatives have a say.

Our nation fought a revolution to be free of decisions made a single person, even if that person is elected.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]A federal government which did less, and kept what it did restricted to what is authorized by Congress, would do a lot to make America a more peaceful place.[/mks_pullquote]

If I might build on that notion for a moment here on the blog, I would point out that we live in an extremely divided age. A good deal of that has to do with Obama’s term in office. Far from being the dawn a post-partisan, post-racial era Obama has been exceedingly partisan and has presided over a marked increase in racial tensions.

But this divisive trend hardly began with Obama. It started before his term began, and it tracks neatly with the rapid expansion of federal powers and federal bureaucracy in recent generations I think.

The federal government is more involved in our day-to-day lives than perhaps any time in our nation’s history, and many of the policies which have pushed the feds further into our lives have been the result of a less than democratic process. Presidents and bureaucrats, essentially, making up laws as they go along.

Obama’s gun policy changes are one example. Another is the EPA’s push to grant itself larger and more intrusive powers. Sometimes doing things that Congress has expressly forbidden.

But it isn’t just people to the right of center who have been angered by that sort of overreach. The Bush administration gleefully used and abused executive branch powers, and we can go all the way back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who issued an executive order during World War II forcing certain Japanese, Italian, and German Americans into internment camps in the 1940’s.

It wasn’t until 1988 that Congress and President Ronald Reagan passed Republican-sponsored legislation to pay reparations to those imprisoned.

Enough with the digression, however. My point is that much of the frequently-denounced partisan rancor that grips this country is – be it witting or unwitting – a response to the increasingly undemocratic manner in which we are governed.

A federal government which did less, and kept what it did restricted to what is authorized by Congress, would do a lot to make America a more peaceful place.

Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

Related posts