President Trump has been busy signing Executive Orders since he was inaugurated on January 20th. The aims of these orders include relaxing the regulations contained in Obamacare, laying the groundwork for the building of the Southern Border Wall and directing government agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one introduced.
But easily his most controversial executive order is that on national security or as it has been labelled the “Muslim ban”. It bans travel to the United States for citizens of seven Middle Eastern nations for 90 days and the admission of refugees for 120 days. The order has been condemned by politicians and activists from the progressive, conservative and libertarian sides of politics. They are of the belief that the order is both unconstitutional as well as violating several federal laws.
Some conservatives and libertarians are hoping they can use President Trump’s preference for using executive orders to be able to educate the left and progressives about the importance of limited government, the separation of powers and the Constitution, and to build a Coalition to oppose any abuse of power by President Trump.
But believing that the left is open to being persuaded to abandon their authoritarian ways is a serious political error. Although it is noble to try and build grand coalitions to achieve political goals history shows that when elements of the right work with the left they will eventually get burned.
What is the proof of this? We have been in this situation before as President Trump is not the only Republican President who was fond of executive orders. President George W. Bush signed numerous executive orders and also violated the Constitution in his war on terror. The left at the time were appalled by the abuse of executive authority Bush engaged in, not to mention the two foreign wars he got the United States involved in and laying the groundwork for the American surveillance state.
Libertarians and traditionalist conservatives back then thought that the left would learn from the Bush Presidency and favour a much more limited government in the future. But once President Obama was in the White House most of the left stopped caring about the principles of limited government or the Constitution. They wanted Obama to introduce their preferred policies by any means necessary.
They cheered on Obama when he signed executive orders to combat climate change, introduce gun control and transgender bathrooms. Not to mention they hardly said a word about Obama’s foreign interventions in Libya and Syria, his drone killing program, his prosecution of government whistle-blowers, and intimidation of the free press.
This cheering on of the abuse of presidential power from the left would have continued if Hillary Clinton had won the election. But now since a person they don’t like is in the White House suddenly the power the President has scares them. Given the left has already had an opportunity to embrace limited government when the switch happened from Bush to Obama why does any libertarian or conservative think that the left will learn their lesson this time?
Given that the left has become more extreme over the past eight years it would appear they are even less likely to embrace limited government when a Democrat gets back in the White House. Libertarians and conservatives should not allow themselves to be useful idiots of the left like they have been in the past as they will once again be thrown under the bus when the left get back into power.
It is also worth pointing out that President Trump’s use of executive orders is no different to any of his predecessors. We should not fall for the media spin that he is acting like some dictator the United States has never seen. The reason he is issuing so many executive orders so early is because he is wanting to be seen as taking action, as passing laws through Congress does take longer. If Trump continues to govern by executive order and does violate the Constitution I will criticise him, but at this early stage I am not going to be hysterical like many people are over his first actions. His nomination today of Neil Gorsuch to the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court who has a proven track record of adhering to the Constitution shows that Trump himself does have respect for the Constitution.
An important function of any government has also seemed to be forgotten with all this rage about Trump’s executive orders. That is Democracy, Trump was elected to implement the policies he is laying the groundwork for. You may find his policies outrageous, but that is what the American people voted for. Because the election didn’t go the way you wanted doesn’t mean the system is broken, democratic nations are still the freest nations in the world.
If Trump’s executive orders are unconstitutional then the judiciary will strike them down, like they always have and is their job. If these orders violate Federal law then Trump will get Congress to change the law, remember the American people voted for a Republican Congress so that Trump could implement his legislative agenda more easily.
Libertarians and conservatives should not run into the arms of the enraged left and swallow the narrative that Trump represents a threat to American government and allow themselves to used and spat out by the left. By all means continue to preach the virtues of Constitutional limited government to those who are willing to listen and be persuaded by it and I do hope that you are successful in gaining more converts. But keep in mind that the left will once again learn nothing and any future Democratic President will be guaranteed to be an even bigger abuser of authority and will be cheered on by their left wing supporters.