Afraid Government Will Ruin Your Life? Reduce Their Power.

 

This weekend has seen protests from coast-to-coast, lawyers flooding airports, and media and politicians engaged in a to-the-death hyperventilation contest. Why? Because President Trump issued an Executive Order they don’t like.

Sure, criticize the wisdom of the order, the ham-handed rollout, or its weak legal vetting, but Trump is using a tool employed to sweeping effect during Barack Obama’s tenure. Conservatives consistently pointed out the extra-constitutional actions of President Pen And A Phone, but their warnings were laughed off as partisanship if not racism. Did these self-styled elites actually think a future President wouldn’t use EOs in ways they didn’t like? Of course not.

So where do these constitutional converts go from here? I proposed a truly radical idea in this weekend’s column for the not-quite-center-right Arizona Republic:

I recommend everyone step back, take a few breaths from a paper bag, and ask why control of the government is so damn important to partisans of both sides.

A few years ago, protesters feared that President Obama would sideline school choice, kill off their existing health insurance and make them violate their traditional beliefs. Today’s protesters fear President Trump will defund public schools, take away their health insurance and persecute LGBT citizens.

Despite being on opposite sides, protesters on the right and left can end their fears the same way. If you’re afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government.

Our Founders wrote the Constitution to ensure than government would be filled with checks and balances. Not only in the power relationship between Congress and the President, but also between Washington DC and the states. America wasn’t designed to orbit around the whims of an imperial capital. Instead, all decisions without national import were to be decided in statehouses, county seats, and local townhalls.

Though today’s leaders consider themselves far smarter than James Madison, et al., they don’t possess a fraction of their wisdom. Instead of ignoring the Constitution while your guy’s in the Oval Office and suing over it while the other guy’s in, respect it as the law of the land for both.

Then, your day-to-day life won’t be much effected by which party is signing orders in the White House.

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There are 65 comments.

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  1. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Quite.

    • #1
    • January 29, 2017, at 3:57 PM PDT
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  2. TES Member
    TES

    This has been a good week for persuading the left on a few of our ideas.

    They now understand that tariffs are paid by the consumer. They were screaming for due process for folks on a government terrorist list. If we can convince them to reduce the power of the president and delegate power of the federal government to the states and people, I’m going to care a lot less about who is in the White House.

    • #2
    • January 29, 2017, at 4:00 PM PDT
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  3. tigerlily Member

    Outstanding column Jon.

    • #3
    • January 29, 2017, at 4:42 PM PDT
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  4. tigerlily Member

    Tony Sells (View Comment):
    This has been a good week for persuading the left on a few of our ideas.

    They now understand that tariffs are paid by the consumer. They were screaming for due process for folks on a government terrorist list. If we can convince them to reduce the power of the president and delegate power of the federal government to the states and people, I’m going to care a lot less about who is in the White House.

    True, although I fear their fear of federal power will only last until the next Democrat is sitting in the White House.

    • #4
    • January 29, 2017, at 4:44 PM PDT
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  5. Percival Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Trump is using a tool employed to sweeping effect during Barack Obama’s tenure. Conservatives consistently pointed out the extra-constitutional actions of President Pen And A Phone, but their warnings were laughed off as partisanship if not racism. Did these self-styled elites actually think a future President wouldn’t use EOs in ways they didn’t like? Of course not.

    I didn’t like it then. I don’t like it now.

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: If you’re afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government.

    Yup.

    • #5
    • January 29, 2017, at 4:50 PM PDT
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  6. Knotwise the Poet Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Despite being on opposite sides, protesters on the right and left can end their fears the same way. If you’re afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government.

    But, but, then how can I force other people to do and pay for the things I want!?

    • #6
    • January 29, 2017, at 4:59 PM PDT
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  7. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Despite being on opposite sides, protesters on the right and left can end their fears the same way. If you’re afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government.

    But, but, then how can I force other people to do and pay for the things I want!?

    Exactly.

    And the underlying philosophies of the left insist that the average individual needs the elite to tell him what to do. Can’t have states and localities letting people do what they want — it might embarrass the elites by actually working.

    • #7
    • January 29, 2017, at 5:25 PM PDT
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  8. TKC1101 Inactive

    I am quite confused as usual, as I frequently am by extreme small government thinking. Are you saying the federal government should not determine which individuals come into our country ?

    Are you saying that in a complex world, the President should not be able to halt inbound traffic from countries with problems? That is the job of Congress , to determine a 120 day ban?

    I have trouble taking the ‘just change everything’ as a solution to anything but utopian writing and discussion.

    Just an opinion. You may have a different one.

    I prefer to hire folks who take the tools they have to do the job. We have problems, we have a creaky , lumbering big government. We either wait for the government to change or we take what we have and use it.

    I would suggest the ‘change it all folks’ are sitting and discussing utopia from the sidelines.

    • #8
    • January 29, 2017, at 5:49 PM PDT
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  9. Trinity Waters Inactive

    All executive orders are not created the same. Trump is merely telling DHS, for example, that it’s time to enforce the law. Entry into our country can be stopped for any class of immigrant by the President’s choice. Constitutional rights only apply to citizens. I’d capitalize that c word, but the moderators take a dim view of expressing ourselves this way.

    I challenge whoever is exercised by his orders to quote one order Trump promulgated this last week that either is beyond his constitutional powers or tramples on the legislative branch in the manner Obama’s did. One. Please.

    • #9
    • January 29, 2017, at 5:53 PM PDT
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  10. Knotwise the Poet Member

    TKC1101 (View Comment):
    I am quite confused as usual, as I frequently am by extreme small government thinking. Are you saying the federal government should not determine which individuals come into our country ?

    Are you saying that in a complex world, the President should not be able to halt inbound traffic from countries with problems? That is the job of Congress , to determine a 120 day ban?

    I think the point of this post isn’t necessarily that Trump does not have the authority to do what he’s doing immigration-wise, but rather that liberals freaking out about all of Trump’s executive orders should take some time for self-reflection and understand that whenever you concentrate more power in the federal government so it can force the policies you want, there’s always the possibility that others will one day use it to force policies you don’t want. I think the Founders’ original vision was for the federal governments’ powers to be restricted to a clearly defined limited sphere (I agree with you that immigration policy is within that sphere), whereas the states and local governments were supposed to have a broad sphere to act in without a lot interference by the feds.

    • #10
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:01 PM PDT
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  11. TKC1101 Inactive

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):
    I think the point of this post isn’t necessarily that Trump does have the authority to do what he’s doing immigration-wise, but rather that liberals freaking out about all of Trump’s executive orders should take some time for self-reflection and understand that whenever you concentrate more power in the federal government so it can force the policies you want, there’s always the possibility that others will one day use it to force policies you don’t want. I think the Founders’ original vision was for the federal governments’ powers to be restricted to a clearly defined limited sphere (I agree with you that immigration policy is within that sphere), whereas the states and local governments were supposed to have a broad sphere to act in without a lot interference by the feds.

    So we get a President who is using his authority to stay within the sphere you describe and that is somehow wrong? Defense, immigration, national security, and stopping regulatory overreach seem like the closest we have to a limited government executive in ages and the small government extremists are still complaining.

    • #11
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:06 PM PDT
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  12. Douglas Baringer Coolidge

    @Jon Gabriel: Though today’s leaders consider themselves far smarter than James Madison, et al., they don’t possess a fraction of their wisdom.

    Another famous founding father, he of the cherry tree, admonished us all to beware of factions. Prescient thought.

    • #12
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:11 PM PDT
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  13. Knotwise the Poet Member

    TKC-1138, I think the focus of the article was a critique of liberals’ hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance when it comes to the federal governments’ power, not the pro’s and con’s of Trump’s policies and how it was rolled out.

    • #13
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:13 PM PDT
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  14. TKC1101 Inactive

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):
    TKC-1138, I think the focus of the article was a critique of liberals’ hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance when it comes to the federal governments’ power, not the pro’s and con’s of Trump’s policies and how it was rolled out.

    Knotwise, telling the liberals to reduce executive power they do not like gave us the way Vietnam ended, the CIA destruction by Senate committee, the Nicaraguan mess and many more.

    I am old and have seen how telling progressives to limit the power of the executive when they are not running it comes out.

    By the way, you confuse me with a George Lucas movie. I am TKC1101.

    • #14
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:19 PM PDT
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  15. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):
    TKC-1138, I think the focus of the article was a critique of liberals’ hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance when it comes to the federal governments’ power, not the pro’s and con’s of Trump’s policies and how it was rolled out.

    Very true. I wrote the op-ed on Tuesday when these latest immigration orders weren’t yet an issue.

    • #15
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:19 PM PDT
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  16. Knotwise the Poet Member

    TKC1101 (View Comment):
    By the way, you confuse me with a George Lucas movie. I am TKC1101.

    Image result for thx 1138

    Haha! You are correct. My apologies.

    • #16
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:24 PM PDT
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  17. JcTPatriot Inactive

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):
    TKC-1138, I think the focus of the article was a critique of liberals’ hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance when it comes to the federal governments’ power, not the pro’s and con’s of Trump’s policies and how it was rolled out.

    Very true. I wrote the op-ed on Tuesday when these latest immigration orders weren’t yet an issue.

    Whew! I had a big reply primed and ready, but got a phone call, and you had posted this reply by the time I got back. I am still a little wobbly over your suggestion that I have ever ignored the Constitution, at least since my Army years.

    • #17
    • January 29, 2017, at 6:56 PM PDT
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  18. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    TKC1101 (View Comment):
    I am quite confused as usual, as I frequently am by extreme small government thinking. Are you saying the federal government should not determine which individuals come into our country ?

    Are you saying that in a complex world, the President should not be able to halt inbound traffic from countries with problems? That is the job of Congress , to determine a 120 day ban?

    I have trouble taking the ‘just change everything’ as a solution to anything but utopian writing and discussion.

    Just an opinion. You may have a different one.

    I prefer to hire folks who take the tools they have to do the job. We have problems, we have a creaky , lumbering big government. We either wait for the government to change or we take what we have and use it.

    I would suggest the ‘change it all folks’ are sitting and discussing utopia from the sidelines.

    Fair certain you missed the entire point of what Jon was trying to say.

    • #18
    • January 29, 2017, at 7:41 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. TKC1101 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Fair certain you missed the entire point of what Jon was trying to say.

    Then that would make us even today if it were true.

    It is a fantasy to tell a progressive the make the government smaller as they hear ‘make the part the other side runs smaller” every time.

    But fantasies are free unless others pay the price.

    • #19
    • January 29, 2017, at 9:41 PM PDT
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  20. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    TKC1101 (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Fair certain you missed the entire point of what Jon was trying to say.

    Then that would make us even today if it were true.

    It is a fantasy to tell a progressive the make the government smaller as they hear ‘make the part the other side runs smaller” every time.

    But fantasies are free unless others pay the price.

    If convincing people of the correctness of your positions given new evidence is impossible then what the heck are we doing?

    • #20
    • January 29, 2017, at 9:43 PM PDT
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  21. DocJay Inactive

    Somehow I expect what you logically and rightfully desire will never happen.

    • #21
    • January 29, 2017, at 9:47 PM PDT
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  22. TKC1101 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    If convincing people of the correctness of your positions given new evidence is impossible then what the heck are we doing?


      Some are debating , assuming the other side is here for tea and crumpets, some are gathering forces to beat the other sides brains in.

    • #22
    • January 29, 2017, at 10:01 PM PDT
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  23. Guruforhire Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    TKC1101 (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Fair certain you missed the entire point of what Jon was trying to say.

    Then that would make us even today if it were true.

    It is a fantasy to tell a progressive the make the government smaller as they hear ‘make the part the other side runs smaller” every time.

    But fantasies are free unless others pay the price.

    If convincing people of the correctness of your positions given new evidence is impossible then what the heck are we doing?

    Exactly.

    There is no point in engaging the left, and parts of the right at all.

    • #23
    • January 30, 2017, at 5:24 AM PDT
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  24. Eb Snider Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:but Trump is using a tool employed to sweeping effect during Barack Obama’s tenure. Conservatives consistently pointed out the extra-constitutional actions of President Pen And A Phone

    Yes, Jon. Nice article. This point has also been well made by the CATO Institute and one of their contributors Gene Healy. in 2008 Healy published a book with an interesting theme, its was called “Cult of the Presidency” and talks about the much expanded role of the Executive branch and the public expectations for an act, vigorous President to personally solve a bunch of problems through enhanced powers. Healy also had a recent article that members night find interesting called “Goodbye Obama: left a loaded gun in the Oval Office”. Link here:

    http://reason.com/archives/2017/01/10/goodbye-obama

    • #24
    • January 30, 2017, at 5:25 AM PDT
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  25. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    TKC1101 (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    If convincing people of the correctness of your positions given new evidence is impossible then what the heck are we doing?


    Some are debating , assuming the other side is here for tea and crumpets, some are gathering forces to beat the other sides brains in.

    That’s not how a Democratic Republic works.

    • #25
    • January 30, 2017, at 6:15 AM PDT
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  26. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    TKC1101 (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Fair certain you missed the entire point of what Jon was trying to say.

    Then that would make us even today if it were true.

    It is a fantasy to tell a progressive the make the government smaller as they hear ‘make the part the other side runs smaller” every time.

    But fantasies are free unless others pay the price.

    If convincing people of the correctness of your positions given new evidence is impossible then what the heck are we doing?

    Exactly.

    There is no point in engaging the left, and parts of the right at all.

    Then the American experiment is a failure.

    • #26
    • January 30, 2017, at 6:15 AM PDT
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  27. Guruforhire Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    oint in engaging the left, and parts of the right at all.

    Then the American experiment is a failure.

    Yep.

    • #27
    • January 30, 2017, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  28. Profile Photo Member

    As to @tkc1101 ‘s point on the tools at our disposal:

    I praise the genius of the Constitution’s framers in dealing with the specific conditions of the United States (13) in the late 18th century – and having the foresight to hand their descendants the RESPONSIBILITY update the document. The only problem is that we haven’t dealt with the vast increase in popular support for government intervention, and the reduced ease of amending the document with the addition to the Union of 3x the number of states (37) that existed at its founding. Given that the Supreme Court has become the de facto amendment procedure, what are some proposals for amendments to amend amendment? We’ll need them soon if we want to preserve the Constitution.

    • #28
    • January 30, 2017, at 6:23 AM PDT
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  29. Franco Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    TKC1101 (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Fair certain you missed the entire point of what Jon was trying to say.

    Then that would make us even today if it were true.

    It is a fantasy to tell a progressive the make the government smaller as they hear ‘make the part the other side runs smaller” every time.

    But fantasies are free unless others pay the price.

    If convincing people of the correctness of your positions given new evidence is impossible then what the heck are we doing?

    Allow me to rephrase that: If people refuse to be convinced no matter what new evidence is presented, then what the heck are we doing?

    Good question. Myself, I’m moving on and fighting to win.

    In the meantime, let me know how your ‘convincing’ operation is going. If you start to show results, I’m all ears. After 40 years I’m giving that up for now.

    Actually, what I’m working on is trying to convince people here that trying to convince them isn’t working, and a waste of energy, and even self-defeating.

    That’s probably not working that well either, but I still hope…

    • #29
    • January 30, 2017, at 7:14 AM PDT
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  30. cdor Member

    Tony Sells (View Comment):
    This has been a good week for persuading the left on a few of our ideas.

    They now understand that tariffs are paid by the consumer. They were screaming for due process for folks on a government terrorist list. If we can convince them to reduce the power of the president and delegate power of the federal government to the states and people, I’m going to care a lot less about who is in the White House.

    Quite right and also…will never happen. As soon as the left returns to power (may it never be so, please God) they will go full Obama.

    • #30
    • January 30, 2017, at 7:17 AM PDT
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