Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Power of the Presidency

It's weird that since I've been so supportive of Trump everyone assumes I'm a lifelong Republican, with some sort of tribal attachment to the party. It's especially weird with all the liberals who unfriended me on facebook when I started posting pro-Trump material, just a very short time after I had been supportive of Bernie Sanders. Those people surely saw both sets of posts, they would have had to. But when they started seeing Trump on my timeline, they just assumed I was on "the other side" and away I went.

I'm sure they naturally assume I was a Bush supporter. The truth is I never supported Bush, I never voted for him, and in fact I spent most of the Bush era as a fervent 9/11 conspiracy theorist. I got real turned on to Alex Jones at that time, and I did believe we were seeing a mass power grab by the government (and we were), but even to the point of fearing martial law was a real possibility. Needless to say, I did not support the expansion of executive power under Bush.

At the time I heard Democrats saying, "You guys support the empowered president now, but one day there'll be a Democrat in charge and you won't like it." I agree. And lo it was soon true. When Obama came to power I was sure he would be a disappointment. I never supported him. I never voted for him. I suspected that Obama would actually curtail the excessive executive power he had inherited. I believe the standard narrative about him. That he was intelligent, thoughtful, peaceful, a Constitutional scholar. If anyone would re-balance the government it was him. I was sure he would at least not increase the excesses of his office.

So I was somewhat surprised, but not shocked, when the scope of the executive continued to explode under his watch. To the point he was making drone assassination strikes on an American citizen and unilaterally negotiating a nuclear treaty with a power labeled as a state sponsor of terrorism. And I found myself saying to Democrats: "You guys support the empowered president now, but one day there'll be a Republican in charge and you won't like it."

And here we are. Three business days in to Trump. Frankly I'm taken back at what he has already been able to do by presidential decree.
  • Ordered the completion of the controversial pipeline Obama left hanging for him.
  • Effectively crippled the individual mandate, the key aspect of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Withdrew from TPP, the most significant foreign trade project during Obama's term.
  • Froze federal hiring, suspended numerous programs, especially in the EPA.
  • Is poised to end the Syrian refugee program.
  • Will halt immigration from nation's with significant Islamic terrorism.
  • Will begin construction of the border wall.
  • Has begun motion to renegotiate NAFTA.
  • Has rallied numerous jobs and investments to return to America.
These are huge shifts in national policy. Immigration, trade, healthcare, jobs. In three days he has done this. I honestly underestimated the power of the presidency. And so did a lot of people. Think of all the people who scoffed that he could never do the things he promised. But also look at how the establishment became totally unhinged at the prospect of a President Trump. They must have known the true power he was assuming. They allowed it during Bush. They allowed it during Obama. And now Trump has it.

At this point Trump is using that power to undo the mistakes of his predecessors. Eventually he will have to start dismantling the power, and we will have to pressure him to do so.

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