Gridlock is Good

Posted on June 27, 2014 by


Yesterday (June 26) the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (we could only wish) said, regarding immigration, “We’re not just going to sit around interminably for Congress.”  He went on to say that the Obama administration was growing impatient with Congress.  Well, this isn’t exactly earth-shattering news.  We have known for say, seven years, that President Obama wanted his way on pretty much everything and was not keen on “waiting” on Congress.  His recent executive orders have only illustrated the point.  President Obama’s administration has been called by some the “imperial presidency,” and though the label was intended for long preceding executives, it seems to fit this president best.  

Here is the question:  Has President Obama ever even heard of the Constitution?  He did teach Constitutional Law as an adjunct at the University of Chicago for a few years, so one would think he might be a little familiar.  But then from what former colleagues and students have reported, even then he showed a remarkable lack, either of knowledge or of care, or both, for this most fundamental legal document.  He appears to think that our government would be better as one man rule.  That would indeed be convenient for those in power–and efficient in some sense.  One could certainly “get things done” as too many today want when they aren’t thinking too clearly.  Even voters think that “gridlock,” the slowdown or complete stoppage of government action that occurs on occasion, is bad, that all governments, but especially the Federal government must “do something.”  Whatever it is doesn’t really matter, just do something, we say.  And when we get that something, we often have “buyer’s remorse” but it is too late.  When we don’t get immediate action, we complain, and give presidents a bully pulpit from which to beat Congress over the head or just to go ahead and take executive action.

Constitution 101:  This is not the way our Federal government was designed to operate.  The separation of powers and check and balances resulting, were intended to prevent just such impetuous and potentially foolish, even dictatorial, actions by executives.  Madison said it, the Christian Scriptures teach it, and it is played out every day:  Men are not angels.  Because they aren’t, a government is structured to prevent or at least minimize the chances to engage in one man rule.  Those in authority cannot just act on a whim to do whatever is politically expedient (though there are appropriate times when even the Constitution allows quick action by the president).

So Mr. President, you must realize that even you have to wait sometimes.  No one person ought to be above the law, and I hope our president cares enough about the nation to refrain from rash and oppressive actions.  Gridlock, after all, is good, it really is.  And Mr. Earnest, be careful what you say.