Korobov: Executive orders subvert democracy


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On Sept. 6, President Obama released a statement announcing that he will hold off on any executive action regarding immigration reform until after the November elections. The decision comes as a surprise considering the president had previously vowed to act before the end of the summer.

As usual, the attacks started coming in on both sides.

Political organizations supporting immigration reform bashed Obama for pushing the decision back. Cristina Jimenez, the managing director of United We Dream, said the decision was “another slap to the face of the Latino and immigrant community.” Meanwhile, Republicans quickly asserted that this is just another political stunt to help save the Democrats in the November elections. The president defended himself in an interview stating, “I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure the public understands why we’re doing this.”

Regardless of whom you agree with, the delay adds even more uncertainty to an issue that seems to become increasingly difficult to resolve the more we talk about it.

As I was watching the bickering erupting on all sides of the political spectrum, I couldn’t help but wonder how this is possible in our society. A democracy is intended to be a form of government that evades a despotic regime through the representation of its citizens.

The issue of immigration reform is extremely controversial, and I’m sure that if Obama could pass immigration reform through Congress, he would have. In June, he stated that, “I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing.”

Thus, the proposition becomes that if Congress doesn’t do what he wants (since he would still need to sign the bill), he will do it himself. The notion defeats the whole purpose of a representative democracy and vastly increases partisanship.

In all fairness, Obama is far from an executive-order power-user; he had signed 187 of them as of Aug. 20. In comparison, George W. Bush issued 291 and Franklin D. Roosevelt sits at a whopping 3,522 (the most of any president). The constitutional authority seems to come from a few lines in Article II, which dictate that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Executive orders may have a place in our form of government, but they definitely create confusion. We have a system that’s already riddled with 1,000-page bills and a tax code that requires us to hire someone to understand it. Any additional uncertainty is uncalled for.

Obama was elected with a 51.1 percent of the popular vote in the last election. This still leaves 48.9 percent of voters who did not agree with his views and elected their own state representatives and senators to be their voice in Washington. The role of executive orders needs to be re-examined to preserve our voice in government.

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