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The one question to ask every 2016 presidential candidate

April 2, 2015

“If elected, will you support and ultimately sign a law restricting the ability of a U.S. president to issue narrowly biased domestic executive orders or enter into international agreements injurious to the greater good of the country without Congressional oversight?”

If Barack Obama leaves no other legacy, he will have shown that the nation’s CEO has the virtually unchecked power to hurt the country.

Case in point, this president’s newly revealed deal to cut U.S. emissions by 26-28% over the next 10 years, while at the same time exempting the world’s other largest polluting nation from even starting to cut emissions until 2030.

No matter where you stand on climate change, a deal that weakens the ability of the United States to enjoy the benefits of cheap and readily available power for manufacturing, defense and even just personal comfort weakens its position as a world leader while bolstering the standing of other nations.

That is not any president’s job.

For some reason, this particular president seems to have a real chip on his shoulder about America, a view apparently shared by many in his camp.

Many people have castigated rapper Azealia Banks for her “I hate America” rant, but if the young lady did nothing else, she gave public voice to, and a clear window into, a very real anti-American sentiment operating not very far under the surface in the United States.

She is entitled to voice her personal opinion, a right given to her by the Constitution of the country she professes to wants to leave.

Presidents, on the other hand are supposed to have the good of the entire nation at heart.

Even if the 44th president shared all of Miss Banks’ views, and no one is implying that he does, as president he is not supposed to act upon them.

Putting aside any racial overtones, as hard as that is in the current environment, it is crystal clear that if any president wants to hurt the country, he or she can get it done pretty easily.

An example of that is the Iranian nuclear negotiations. A U.S. president who is on the side of protecting America probably should be taking the position that a nation that wants to destroy us shouldn’t have even the slightest ability to create a nuclear weapon. Sort of a “no nukes, now or any other time” stance.

Obviously, that’s not exactly the bargaining stance at present.

The original authors of the Constitution had one major blind spot. While they didn’t discount the deleterious effects of having a dictatorial commander-in-chief, they couldn’t envision that any American would actually govern in a way designed to harm the country.

They believed that by creating a checks-and-balances system comprised of three branches, they would prevent someone from declaring themselves a monarch.

What they didn’t do was to provide an immediately efficacious method to stop any such eventuality while it was happening.

Make no mistake. This is not a black or white issue. It is an issue of protecting the country from zealots of any stripe.

Eight years is a long time to have someone operating against the national interest, whether that person is a deep-cover spy or a president.

The only constitutional way to prevent that from happening in real time is to legislate a way to curtail presidential overreach in real time.

Squishy interpretations of what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors” or other impeachable offenses may need to be reviewed and clarified.

Borrowing from parliamentarian governments, perhaps the ability of Congress to hold a vote of “no confidence” needs to become part of the democratic process as an intermediate step,  putting future leaders on notice that they have overstepped their bounds.

Perhaps the country needs to be able to hold a recall election at the executive branch level.

Whatever the legal answer is, it won’t happen if candidates who might become president are unwilling to participate in the cure as well as spread the disease.

Ask the question, and consider the responses carefully.

From → op-ed

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