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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Is it becoming trendy to disregard the Constitution?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23288 points ) January 5th, 2012

I’ll admit that I don’t pay enough attention to politics or government, but it seems difficult to miss the fact that Bush & Obama have both taken big jabs at the Constitution.
Can you give me some examples of ways that this has happened with past presidencies?
Should we be concerned about this happening with future presidencies?
Were you surprised by the contents of the National Defense Authorization Act? Were you surprised to see it come from Obama?

Any thoughts on the subject are welcome, but I am really most curious about the possibility of this becoming a trend. I try not to run leaping into conspiracy theories, but I can not be the only person that feels like something fishy is going on.

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16 Answers

Michael_Huntington's avatar

The only example I can think of is Lincoln’s presidency. So Lincoln was doing it before it was cool.

Charles's avatar

Ninety nine point nine percent of Americans couldn’t pass a basic test on the US Constitution or amendments or bill of rights or branches of government or who their local, state elected officials are. It’s so complicated and deeply controlled by politicians and lawyers.
How many people think the person that wins the popular vote becomes president?
How many people thought if a president is impeached by Congress he is automatically out?

Your typical Americans:

Americans Aren’t Stupid

filmfann's avatar

Obama had his arm twisted by the House Republicans. He didn’t want this, but had no choice.
It’s not like when Reagan sold weapons to Iran to secretly fund an illegal war in Nicaragua.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

The Founders knew people always try and violate the rights of others, it is human nature. That is why they wrote the Bill of Rights.

The first thing George Washington had to deal with was people saying the Federal Government had no right to tax them, and they needed to take the government back for the people. It was called the Whiskey Rebellion, and these people joined the newly formed Republican Party after the war.

So it is not new. But these things tend to swing in pendulum arcs. In the fifties, we had McCarthyism. Thirty years prior, we had the red scare. We are in a period where the Government is over-reaching, but historically it swings back the other way just as quickly.

VoodooSocialite's avatar

The first thing that comes to mind is the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The Sedition Act and Espionage Act during World War I.

Also, I really don’t think Obama was in a fair position. If he hadn’t signed the NDAA, many benefits to veterans would have been cut, among other things, and Republicans would have been able to demonize him for this. This way, the Republican party may undermine the constitution to push whatever agenda they feel necessary at the moment, and pin it on the Democratic president.

Symbeline's avatar

Passing a law that rapes the magna carta up the ass seems way passed trend status to me, however I certainly see your point. I respect America a lot, but I have to say, a lot of the politics in the country always seem like such jester shows. In such a case, if it doesn’t get any better, I sure hope it just remains what it is, and doesn’t get hardcore serious, because if it does, that’s going to be some frightening turn of events. To answer a part of your question, yes, it could definitely get worse with future presidency. Not a big fan of conspiracy myself, but as you say, one does have to wonder at times…(whether it comes from a president himself, or some third party)
No examples, just thoughts, sorry. XD

Jaxk's avatar

Unfortunately power has been transferred to the president since the country was formed. We have created countless regulatory agencies, all reporting to the president that have the authority to enact laws (we call them regulations). All of these usurp the authority of congress and have the ability to tax, jail, or otherwise penalize anyone they choose.

Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus in his fight against the Confederacy. Truman by executive order interred thousands of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WWII. Bush under the guise of the War on Terror expanded presidential authority beyond belief. And Obama has pushed the envelope even further. During the reign of FDR the power of the president reached historic levels. so much so that congress felt it necessary to limit the term of a president so that it would never happen again. It didn’t work.

Over the years the power of the president has expanded with each generation. Even when the power was obviously an overreach, the policies may have been impeached but the power has never been returned. We are reaching a critical point where there is little difference between our democracy and totalitarian government. We can still reverse this trend but we have little time left with which to do it. I hope we make the right choices.

Symbeline's avatar

@Jaxk
We can still reverse this trend but we have little time left with which to do it. I hope we make the right choices.
Agreed. Your post is some scary shit, I really hope things don’t come to that. :/

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Obama hasn’t done nearly enough to scale back Bush’s power grab, but let’s be honest. He has ended torture. He has suspended extraordinary rendition and loss of habeas corpus for US citizens by a signing statement, even though Republicans in Congress forced these odious laws on him by deliberately attaching them to the vital Defense Authorization Act. Had he vetoed the bill, Republicans should have stalled on any new funds till our foices abroad were starved of needed supplies, and then blamed Obama. The biggest problem America faces today is a Republican party gone utterly mad with hatred for Obama.

And you would resolve this by having us elect even more of the Republicans who atttached these unconstitutional laws to the Defense Authroization Act? Just how is this supposed to held?

jerv's avatar

Between SOPA and the recent detention act, I would say that it is… except that it’s been going on for so long that it is less “trendy” than “business as usual”. Every President since (and including) Lincoln has committed acts which should have had them impeached. Congress isn’t much better.

Note that one of those isn’t really the government’s doing though; SOPA is being championed mostly by corporations that stand to profit.

And which side of the aisle has pushed most of those through though? And by “push through”, I include bringing Congress to a complete halt until they get their way, attaching riders to other legislation so that they must be signed ASAP to avoid other repercussions like defunding the military, and other such games?

@Jaxk A rare moment of agreement between us!

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

Actually SOPA is a good example of how all this is going. Generally a government agency is defined to handle the regulations (probably the FCC). They take the law and start creating regulations. What qualifies as piracy, what actions to take how much is shut down, etc. All this of course reports directly to the President. The end result is that the President has direct control over what Internet content is deemed acceptable.

Now I don’t care what party the president is from, I don’t want that power to reside in the president. There are 456 different agencies within the Federal Government. Most reporting directly to the President. Each of these agencies contain sub groups of bureaucracies and all of these create regulations and none of these are elected officials. Most Americans don’t even know they exist, let alone what they do. But make no mistake, every time they decide on a new regulation it carries the weight of law with appropriate fines, fees, or prison. There is no check on these guys, no oversight, and they do the bidding of the President.

Now I know that people like @ETpro believe that Obama is a good guy so transferring even more power to him is OK. But it’s not the party that scares me, it’s the transfer of power. During the Cap n Trade debate, the EPA threatened congress to pass that bill. Stating that if congress didn’t pass restrictions on CO2 that the EPA would. How the hell, does the EPA (reporting directly to the President) usurp the authority of congress? How can the President take the power to regulate CEO pay by simply appointing a Pay Czar? How can the NLRB acquire the power to dictate where an American business locate a new plant?

For all the Democrats that think this power grab is OK because it’s Obama, remember that he will eventually be ousted (unless he decides to eliminate the term limits) and the next guy will inherit all this new power. When you place all the power in one person, that is an authoritarian government. You may think the dictator is a good guy so that is OK but it rarely remains that way. We have transferred way too much power to the President. It’s time to start dismantling some of these agencies and put the power back into the hands of congress. They may be inept, but at least they are fairly well distributed, making a dictatorship more difficult.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I don’t think the FCC has much to do with SOPA, but regardless, it is a piece of legislation. Until Congress puts this on the President’s desk, it’s all Congress… by direction of big money.
However, if it gets signed, then yes, the Executive branch will be given carte blanche.

Note that the legislation that was passed to allegedly crack down on child pornography actually doesn’t accomplish it’s stated purpose, but rather, it circumvents the Fourth Amendment. But SOPA is less about executive power than about money.

No matter which way you look at it though, there is too much power in all the wrong places.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Not at all. You should see some of the scathing letters I have written to Obama. I am unfortunately left with a choice between Obama and complete insanity called the Tea Party Republicans. Given that sort of Hobson’s choice, I will stay the course, and desperately hope for a better selection in 2016..

jerv's avatar

@ETpro You forget that there is a strong “either/or” mentality in today’s politics. That means that anybody who isn’t a frothing-at-the-crotch Conservative is an Obama-loving Socialist; people like you and I who chose Obama as merely the least of all evils in 2008 are either lumped in with the lazy Communists or considered spineless and wishy-washy.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

I couldn’t have said it better :)

ETpro's avatar

@jerv & @Jaxk Lurve to both of you. :-)

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