Perhaps Pat Buchanan needs to think a little more before he speaks. Either hate Executive Orders, or don’t. They’re not different under Trump.
Patrick J. Buchanan is someone who at times has a speckled reputation with the right. Buchanan was long the “conservative voice” on CNN’s Crossfie, after working in the Nixon and Reagan administrations. He also ran for president three times, twice as a Republican and once with the Reform Party, as an outsider populist (much like Donald Trump). Buchanan created The American Conservative as a buffer against what he saw was the prominence of neo-conservatism and interventionism. But he’s also faced criticism for suspected antisemitic views and his belief in tariff wars.
It shouldn’t be surprising Buchanan supported Trump during the 2016 election. Both have similar viewpoints on immigration and trade, and run very populist in their political rhetoric. Buchanan told The Washington Post in January how Trump was the future of American politics, specifically the Republican Party.
“Take a look at Europe,” Buchanan said. “Ethno-nationalism from Scotland to Catalonia to Flander, and nationalism in the form of parties like the UKIP in Britain and FN in France, new governments in Warsaw and Budapest – this looks more like the future than Angela Merkel or the E.U.”
Buchanan is now pressing Trump to push forward with his agenda, now that he’s won the White House with his most recent column saying the president-elect could “put a seal on American politics as indelible as that left by Ronald Reagan” (emphasis mine).
On January 20, he should have vetted and ready to nominate to the high court a brilliant constitutionalist and strict constructionist…
Folks in Pennsylvania, southeast Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia should be shown, by executive action, that Trump is a man of his word. And when the mines open again, he should be there.
He should order new actions to seal the Southern border, start the wall, and begin visible deportations of felons who are in the country illegally…
He should take the president’s phone and pen and begin the rewriting or repeal of every Obama executive order that does not comport with the national interest or political philosophy of the GOP…
The question is whether these types of proposed actions are consistent with the other. Buchanan famously called President Barack Obama a “Rogue President” in 2014 for his action on illegal immigration.
Thus does our constitutional law professor-president “faithfully execute” the laws of the United States he has twice swore to uphold?
Our rogue president has crossed an historic line, and so has the republic. Future presidents will cite the “Obama precedent” when they declare they will henceforth not enforce this or that law, because of a prior commitment to some noisy constituency.
We have just taken a monumental step away from republicanism toward Caesarism. For this is rule by diktat, the rejection of which sparked the American Revolution.
Does anyone see the hypocrisy here? Buchanan says it’s not okay for Obama to use executive action, then implores Trump to do the same thing only because he lies what Trump represents. If it’s not okay for the left to do it, then it shouldn’t be okay for the right to do it and vice versa. If it is okay for your side to do it, then shut up when the other side decides to use similar tactics.
The debate over executive orders has been raging on for almost 20 years. Both Heritage Foundation and CATO Institute have weighed in on when executive orders are good and proper and when they are not. Heritage argues executive orders work under five situations: Commander in Chief, Head of State, Chief Law Enforcement Officer, and Head of the Executive Branch.
“When the President is lawfully exercising one of these functions, the scope of his power to issue written directives is exceedingly broad,” Todd Gaziano opines in The Use and Abuse of Executive Orders and Other Presidential Directives. “In short, he may issue or execute whatever written directives, orders, guidelines (such as prosecutorial guidelines or nondiscriminatory enforcement policies), communiqués, dispatches, or other instructions he deems appropriate.”
CATO argues the Constitution is too broad in its language, which means people need to pay attention when executive orders or actions are issued. Congress is also blamed for ceding power originally given to the legislature.
“The problem of presidential usurpation of legislative power has been with us from the beginning, but it has grown exponentially with the expansion of government in the 20th century,” William J. Olson and Alan Woll write. “In enacting program after program, Congress has delegated more and more power to the executive branch. Thus, Congress has not only failed to check but has actually abetted the expansion of presidential power.”
There are solutions to this but most of them involve Congress doing its job, and the hope people will pay attention when executive orders have been put in place. Some states are also picking up the ball by suing when they policies which may or may not be constitutional, and hoping the courts will interpret it the same way. The biggest solution is cutting back the size of government, so these types of fights don’t happen. The only problem is that could take time and Americans aren’t exactly known for their patience.
Perhaps President Rutherford B. Hayes was correct when he told a journalist about the dangers of executive orders.
The executive power is large because not defined in the Constitution. The real test has never come, because the Presidents have down to the present been conservative, or what might be called conscientious men, and have kept within limited range. And there is an unwritten law of usage that has come to regulate an average administration. But if Napoleon ever became President, he could make the executive almost what he wished to make it. The war power of President Lincoln went to lengths which could scarcely be surpassed in despotic principle.
Buchanan’s desire to see Trump rule by fiat falls into the Napoleon category. It’s incorrect, and only blurs the line between separation of powers. Buchanan should know better, given the fact he wants a “constitutionalist and strict constructionist” appointed to the Supreme Court. It’s too bad he doesn’t want that in the White House.