Sadly, someone I care deeply about was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer — one that is difficult to survive. The problem with this cancer is that it is rarely found until it reaches what oncologists call Stage III or Stage IV, meaning that treatment options are limited and the prognosis is guarded at best — with even “guarded” representing sometimes unjustifiable optimism.
What was so shocking about the diagnosis is that there was no prior indication of illness, certainly none that a person would attribute to a serious ailment rather than to an insignificant virus or just getting a poor night’s sleep. As the unknowing victim moves through life thinking all is well, he is being killed from the inside out. The same is now happening to our national body politic.
The rise of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States suggested a slightly sick country: A completely unaccomplished man elected to the highest political office on the planet on promises of “hope and change” based on radical and ignorant ideas.
To be sure, signs of at-least-minor political illness predate Obama: the Republican brand was (and to a large extent remains) deeply tarnished by years of Republican big spending, corruption, lack of legislative achievements, and did I mention big spending?
No doubt you can name even earlier symptoms.
Despite all the current noise, our national political illness is not defined by the behavior of the president; instead, the cancer is the mindset of the public and of politicians who tolerate or justify the behavior. It is not what you see on the surface but what is happening underneath.
Again, this didn’t start with Obama.
Republicans created Medicare Part D (the prescription drug benefit), a massive entitlement which, on its first day, had an unfunded liability greater than that of the Social Security system. President Bush presided over massive increases in spending — the biggest since LBJ. According to the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards, “Even without TARP and Fannie/Freddie, spending was up a huge 70 percent under Bush over eight years. By contrast, total spending under eight years of President Clinton increased just 32 percent.”
Most voters, including many Republicans, didn’t even blink at this drift from conservative principles and rhetoric. There were always excuses: The Democrats will do something even worse. This spending is necessary and we’ll cut back next year. Nation-building will help us in the long-term. No big deal.
Similarly, President Obama campaigned on transparency and lessening the accumulation of power in the executive branch but has not for a single moment of his reign been true to those promises. In the meantime, he has nearly doubled our national debt while crushing the country under taxes and regulation. And similarly, many voters yawned and thought “this too shall pass,” allowing Obama’s re-election.
When you just have a slight headache, you don’t imagine that it is the first indication of a much worse ailment. But as with my very sick friend, the symptoms have gotten bad enough that we can no longer ignore them. And now we have the terrible diagnosis: our nation has a late-stage political cancer rotting our republic from the inside out.
As with cancer, the big problem is not the most visible symptoms although perhaps we have the national migraine known as Barack Obama to thank for pushing us to get a national political checkup.
President Obama’s upcoming illegal executive amnesty, his lies and deception to pass Obamacare, his push to regulate the Internet as if it were an old telephone monopoly, his cult-like rush to implement “climate change”-related regulations, these things are all representative of a particular unpalatable, ignorant, and fundamentally un-American philosophy. But they are the symptom, not the disease.
The disease is a much subtler — often silent — killer: the acceptance and rationalization of lawlessness by people who would rightly be (and in the past were) screaming from the rooftops if analogous actions were being contemplated by a Republican.
The audacity of Obama’s immigration moves are highlighted by his many correct statements that what he is about to do is somewhere between inappropriate and illegal.
But more important than whatever the president does is his claimed reasoning for doing it: that he just can’t wait anymore for Congress to act. This is a political philosophy without boundaries, a belief in executive authority without limits — despite the latter having been an explicit objection candidate Obama made against President George W. Bush’s approach to governing. It, like cancer, is an assault on the internal political structures on which our nation’s health rests.
Senate Democrats, parroting Obama, are encouraging him to use executive action to “fix our broken immigration system… because House Republicans have not acted.” Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is urging the president to “go big — as big as he can” with his immigration actions.
House Democrats, including Hank “I hope Guam doesn’t tip over” Johnson are also goading the president to break the law because, in typical Progressive fashion, there are no principles, only goals. This despite both the New York Times and the Washington Post noting the president’s hypocrisy on the extent of executive power.
Being surprised or disappointed at liberal hypocrisy is like being surprised or disappointed that your puppy peed on your rug. But it is worth remembering that a few years ago when Democrats were decrying the “imperial presidency” of George W. Bush, former N.Y. Times editorial board member Adam Cohen cautioned that Congress must reassert its important role in limiting executive overreach because “The Constitution cannot enforce itself.”
Instead, Democratic politicians — and, by a 2-1 margin, Democratic voters — are encouraging the destruction of the well-known “checks and balances” between branches of our federal government which are the most important guarantor of Americans’ liberty and the most important reason that our country has been a stable democratic republic for more than two centuries.
Whether this Stage IV cancer of lawlessness originated in politicians and metastasized to Democratic voters or vice versa we may never known. What we do know is that the entire political left is now infected.
Rather than Barack Obama’s particular actions — themselves just a painful symptom — the acceptance and encouragement of ends-justify-the-means defiance of both the Constitution and the will of the people (the former being much more important than the latter), the obliteration of boundaries on executive power based on a temper tantrum of populist impatience, the claim that if lawmakers don’t behave as the president wishes that he can then take on the role of legislator himself, these are the tyrannical rot at the core of current American politics and particularly within the enormous political tumor that is today’s Democratic Party.