The End to American Democracy?


Last night the President delivered his annual State of the Union address.  He tried to sound upbeat and positive.  For the most part his proposals were modest, and he appealed to everyone’s good common sense.

There was one aspect to the speech, however, that had an ominous ring.  He repeatedly stated that he was prepared to take executive action of Congress failed to take action itself.  His frustration with Congress is understandable.  Congress’ record for the past two years has been abysmal.  But this points to an alarming trend in American politics.  People expect the government to act — to fix problems; and increasingly it is the executive branch of the federal government that takes the action.  We now have a host of federal agencies, all a part of the executive branch, that are charged with the oversight of everything from fixing bridges to mandated educational standards.  And more alarmingly, presidents have made increasing use of executive orders and signing statements to advance their agendas.

This development should be a cause of alarm to all.  Our Constitution provides for a system of checks and balances precisely to keep any one branch of the federal government from becoming too powerful.  What we are witnessing today is nothing less than the erosion of our constitutional liberties.

Is this the beginning of the end for American democracy?