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Obama’s New Found Audacity: Unilateral Action in America

Obama’s address concerning the state of the America union on the 28th of January portrays the defiance of a characteristically non-confrontational American President in the face of deeply divided government. In his speech, Obama drew America’s attention to the partisan bullying of the Republican Party, implying their role in a political scheme to prevent Obama and the Democrats from making good on their election promises. 

Obama argues that where the Republicans have succeeded, America has suffered. He cites the recent shutdown of government services as a result of the collapse of negotiation in Congress concerning the budget bill last spring as a disconcerting example of this. Obama’s message for Congress was clear, “… America does not stand still and, neither will I…” he said. Obama, as he once described himself, “… a skinny kid, with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too …” has a new plan of action; unilateral action. Although not unheard of in the case of Obama, executive orders were, until recently, a fairly unpopular route for the President. For example, over a span of six years as president Obama has made use of his power to issue executive orders only 168 times. This pales in comparison to the late President Franklin D Roosevelt, who over the course of his twelve years in office issued an incredible 3,522 executive orders.

So, what can we expect from Obama in 2014? Should Americans be concerned that so much power rests in the hands of one man? Many think that they should. Republican Senator Tim Scott commented on Obama’s plan of action saying: “We continue to erode the whole notion of the rule of law … to the extent that he continues to move unilaterally without the consent of Congress, I think it doesn’t sit well with a message of unity.” Moreover is genf20 hgh dangerous, according to a recent CNN poll, only 30% of adult American’s who watched the state of the union address agree with Obama’s emphasis on executive orders. However, Obama’s greater use of executive orders will definitely not result in anything close to FDR’s abuse of them, and it does not seem likely to result in very much harm. In fact, his strategy further confirms the paradox that American democracy has continually been faced with situations in which undemocratic means are necessary to accomplish democracy. Obama, now only a snippet of that “skinny kid” since gracing American history with his victory in the 2008 Presidential race, has come to understand this. Obama has now joined the ranks of the other American presidents that have been forced by the near impossible- to- get-anything-done legislative process of Congress to play the role of the benevolent dictator.

After all, despite both the possibility for and the historical record of  executive order abuses, some of America’s proudest moments on the road to completing the Founding Fathers project of democracy have been accomplished by executive orders. Abraham Lincoln, an American President who Obama’s style of presidency is often compared to, used an executive order to achieve the emancipation of slavery. Without this mechanism of executive power, it is very likely that America would not be the nation that we know it to be today.  The current state of the union has propelled Obama into the very same position Lincoln found himself; wedged between the spirit of democracy and Congress. America’s democracy, although it certainly was never intended to function this way, has in reality always needed and always used executive orders. Obama’s strategy isn’t world-shattering, and he just may be able to live up to the Lincoln comparisons by acting unilaterally.

– M’Lisa Colbert

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