The far Left and the far Right both have some things in common. They both have an innate belief that they, and only they, know the “truth” and want to “save the country.” The other thing they have in common is a complete inability to understand the Constitution, although they’re more than willing to use it as a convenient justification. Virtually everything they say circles around it. Read them, and you hear the same things. The President should have “forced” Congress to do something, the President should “demand” they do this, the President should have “done” that by Executive Order. He needs to be strong and forceful. Reading all those comments, either in favor if their party is in the Presidency or worrying about it if their party isn’t, just tells me one thing: They don’t want the system of government we have.
In the form of government we actually have, Presidents don’t get to order Congress around. Really, truly, seriously. A President can persuade, he can ask, but he can’t tell a Member of Congress what they’re going to do. They don’t answer to him. They answer to their constituents, and any President who tries the heavy handed “I’m ordering you” approach is going to seriously piss off that member of Congress. Congress doesn’t get to order the President around, either. They can pass laws – but he can veto them. They can withhold funds, but that doesn’t necessarily stop him. There’s another balance in the equation as well. The courts. You see, the courts get to decide what is or is not “allowed” according to the Constitution. So either one or both has to answer to that law.
That’s the form of government we have. It’s creaky, sometimes arcane, frustrating, and often slow. That situation is exacerbated when you have different parties controlling one or more of the branches. Throw in regional concerns and priorities, and there is going to be a continuing set of conflicts and disagreements Yes, some of the procedural rules in Congress could use changes, but the President doesn’t get a say in that. That’s up to Congress. But, like it or not, it has worked for the past 220 years.
Those of us who actually read the Constitution, those of us who have more than a passing understanding of history and government, understand that. But, in reading through the pundits, the frustrati, tea party, various right-wingers, and so on, it’s obvious that they don’t. They want (or fear) a “unitary executive.” Someone who, with a stroke of the pen or a loud bombastic decree orders something done, or a policy implemented. The job of the legislature is to rubber stamp that, or produce the required law without any tedious debate needed. There are countries like that. We call them dictatorships.
Now they’ll all bluster and fulminate that that they don’t really want that, but read through what they say, what they think a President can do, or demand that he do, and it’s pretty obvious what they want. I just wish they’d be honest about it. They may want a dictatorship, but they’re not going to get it. The worst thing that could happen to them is that they get what they wanted. You see, in dictatorships, people like them are usually lined up against a wall, sent to re-education camps, or thrown in prison. So they can bitch, scream, and whine all they want, but they can do that only because they aren’t getting the dictatorship they wanted. It’s just not what we have. I’m a pragmatist. I’d rather deal with reality, and if I don’t like how the current Congress is structured, then I work to change the membership. I recognize the very real limits a President has, and no, I don’t expect him – or want him – to be able to do something by decree. I live in a representative democracy, like they do, and I’m damn glad of that. Pity they aren’t.