495px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_SkidmoreBelow is my Sunday column in the Washington Post on Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entry into the United States. Trump’s rhetoric has shocked many in his promises to unilaterally force sweeping changes regardless of Congress. Yet, Trump’s criticism of Congress and pledge to go it alone should be vaguely familiar for many. Both Obama and Trump advocate to use unilateral powers to change the immigration laws as a rejection of a “do nothing” Congress. Faced with opposition in Congress, President Obama insisted that he would order many of the very changes rejected by the legislative branch. Despite my agreement with President Obama on many of his policies, it is a dangerous and destabilizing legacy or a system based on the separation of powers. While these men may differ on their policy choices, the powers are the same. President Obama has been asserting many the powers referenced by Trump despite constitutional objections and losses in court like the Canning decision. For this reason, the objections from Obama supporters may ring a bit hollow for Trump supporters. While Trump may have coined “You’re fired” as an entertainment tag line, it was President Obama who fashioned it into a political doctrine in his rejection of Congress. This has been a role that Trump has spent years cultivating on reality shows. It is reality TV meets realpolitick. Below is the column.

Donald Trump has spent years cultivating a reputation as someone who won’t accept “no” for an answer, and he’s made clear that’s exactly the sort of president he would be. Never mind if there’s bipartisan opposition to barring Muslims from entering the United States or to building a wall along the Mexican border (and making Mexico pay for it). Trump doesn’t see a need to defer to Congress, which he dismisses as “grossly incompetent” and “pathetically weak.” Instead, he heralds instances of past presidents acting unilaterally, particularly Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order that led to Japanese American internment and Dwight Eisenhower’s deportation of millions under “Operation Wetback.”

These comments have understandably energized the Stop Trump movement. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Trump’s proposal for barring Muslims “disqualifies him” from office. Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin rallied supporters with the message, “We have to be ready to stop him.”

But if Democrats are alarmed by this glimpse into a Trump administration, they are in part to blame. They have supported President Obama’s claims of unchecked authority in a variety of areas, particularly immigration. And the Obama model will be attractive to successors who, although they may have a different agenda, have the same appetite for unilateral decisions.

Obama has used his willingness to go it alone as a rallying cry for Democrats. “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will,” he told supporters in 2011. In his 2013 State of the Union address, his similar line, “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” was met with ecstatic applause from the Democratic side of the chamber.

Of course, the expansion of presidential authority did not start with Obama, and his predecessor George W. Bush was widely criticized (including by me) for seeking unilateral powers after the 9/11 attacks. Yet Obama has been particularly aggressive in his unilateral actions. From health care to immigration to the environment, he has set out to order changes long refused by Congress. Thrilled by those changes, supporters have ignored the obvious danger that they could be planting a self-defeating precedent if the next president proves to be a Cruz rather than a Clinton. While the policies may not carry over to the next president, the powers will.

Consider some of the positions expressed in the GOP primary race:

• Ben Carson dismisses the science on climate change, saying the real worry would be if temperatures stopped going up and down. A President Carson could order the same kind of sweeping regulatory changes that Obama has sought for power plants and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions — only in the opposite direction.

• Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has pledged to recognize personhood beginning at conception. In a Huckabee administration, while subject to Supreme Court restrictions, a host of federal laws could be reinterpreted to treat the unborn as people. Huckabee’s view differs from Congress’s, but so did Obama’s when he parted ways with Congress on the urgency of climate change.

• Sen. Ted Cruz wants to repeal the corporate income tax. Just as the Obama administration claimed discretion to delay enforcement of the health-care law’s employer mandate and to defer the deportation of some undocumented immigrants, President Cruz might be inclined to use his executive discretion to extend, perhaps indefinitely, the deadline for corporate income tax payments. Likewise, Cruz could order prosecutors not to charge, or to reduce the charges associated with, certain corporate offenses, as Obama did with some nonviolent drug crimes.

• Various candidates have denounced what they see as biased treatment of religious groups and individuals on college campuses. The next president might want to order the Department of Education to strip away due process protections for those accused of anti-religious speech, just as the Obama administration did in cases of alleged sexual harassment or assault — putting federal education funding at risk for any university that defies the White House.

• Some of the presidential candidates reject evolution and support the teaching of creationism in schools. The new president could alter national science curriculum standards and waive requirements on the teaching of science. After all, the Obama administration offered waivers to school districts that didn’t meet state-defined goals for math and reading proficiency, in direct contradiction of No Child Left Behind.

• Trump has insisted that killing terrorists is not enough. He told Fox News that “you have to take out their families .” While many people were horrified, Trump is simply adding another target package to a program formalized by Obama. The current administration has asserted the authority to kill even U.S. citizens, anywhere, at any time, if it deems them to be imminent threats to national security.

• Most of the candidates oppose the Affordable Care Act. Assuming that Democrats have enough votes in Congress to prevent a repeal, the next president might be tempted to refuse to defend the law against court challenges, under the view that the law is unconstitutional. The Obama administration did that with the Defense of Marriage Act, announcing in 2011 that the Justice Department would no longer defend the statute.

• Most of the contenders have criticized increasing regulation and bureaucratic costs for businesses. The next president could order the delay of any new rules on workplace safety, wages or discrimination. After all, the Obama administration treated deadlines specified in the Affordable Care Act as little more than aspirational. Alternatively, the next administration could simply relieve businesses of such statutory obligations. Obama’s administration told companies that when imposing layoffs connected to federal budget cuts known as sequestration, they could ignore the 60-day notice requirement in place since the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act was passed in 1988.

• Virtually all of the candidates have called for the repeal or weakening of Dodd-Frank, the financial reform law designed to curb abuses by big banks. The next president might be inclined to declare that banks are not required to fulfill certain obligations under the law. Consider the Obama administration’s treatment of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. TANF was signed by President Bill Clinton to condition receipt of welfare benefits on work (or preparing for work). The Obama administration, however, told states that it would waive that requirement .

The problem with allowing a president to become a government unto himself is that you cannot guarantee who the next president might be. Now the leading Republican candidate is someone who views most of his creations in eponymous terms — as reflected by 20-foot letters spelling out his name on top of his hotels. He is the perfect uber personality to fit our uber presidency.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

73 thoughts on “WHAT OBAMA TAUGHT TRUMP”

  1. I can’t wait for trump to be the president and show the democrats how things are supposed to be done . Trump will bring a period of complete annihilation for primitive democrats and the GOP establishment . The era of Americans finally getting in touch with reality is to start in January 2017!

  2. The climate always has and always will change. Americans started warning people to stop smoking in the 1960’s and began reducing vehicle and industrial emissions at that point. What rational people refuse to do is turn the greenie weenie movement into a religion with the fervor of Islam with an Imam Al Gore, for example.

    The murder that is abortion violates many of the Ten Commandments. Liberals are self-contradictory and self-resolving. To liberals, abortion is OK because it involves an unviable tissue mass. Then the cops charge the murderer of a pregnant mother with double murder – oops, he murdered a pregnant woman and a non-viable tissue mass. Only psychotic, irreverent, anarchist liberals could dream this murder-as-an-innocuous-act up. Understanding that America’s birthrate is in a “death spiral,” abortion is not only heinous and irrational, it constitutes national suicide – an American Extinction Event.

    Corporations never have, don’t and never will pay corporate taxes. Their customers do. Corporate tax is the tax for dummies and collectivist redistributionist bleeding-heart liberals will take revenue from any source to build their lucrative little fiefdoms by illicitly obtaining OPM (other people’s money – in case no one noticed, that is antithetical and unconstitutional considering the right to private property). In a perfect world, progressive democrats would embarrass themselves out of existence into Never Never Land.

    Separation of Church and State means you believe and practice whatever and however you choose on Sunday but do not bring it to work on Monday. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,” The next President should dismantle the antithetical and unconstitutional Department of Education. The Dept. of Education has NO constitutional function and exists only to further political control and the political correctness of the Political Officers, the Commissars, who report to the Presidium. No government worker should ever be allowed in a union just as there is no union in the military, there shall be no union in any level of government structure. Education is local. Not every American will matriculate at Harvard. Not every American will become Albert Einstein or Peyton Manning. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The ridiculous dictatorial machinations of the entirely bogus Department of Education will help no one – with the exception of that Commissar and his cadre and beneficiaries who populate his personal fiefdom. The constitution allows citizens to move in and out of any state, not the federal government or its Dept. of Education.

    Education is local. Local Industry professionals must set the curricula. Private schools succeed through the curricula they offer. The federal government is not a constitutional dictatorship. Obama and the federal government have no authority over free people and local schools. Obama is free to do so and should open a private sector charity and private school with free tuition. There is no mandate for a federal education system.

    America must prevail with regard to security; it must fight fire with fire and do whatever is necessary to secure the country. Enemies of America have tortured and killed. At some point, America must do whatever is necessary and leave “judgment” up to the hereafter.

    The House, under Nancy Pelosi, committed the unconstitutional and treasonous acts of approving a blatantly ineligible candidate for the office of the President and passing the unconstitutional ACA which all democrats swore was NOT A TAX. The next President should liberally apply an accelerated rendition of Article 2, Section 4, setting a precedent of swift and severe justice for negligent and derelict elected officials unwilling to faithfully execute their constitutional duties.

    Homosexual marriage must be decided by the Sovereign, the People, no matter the incessant and egregious “legislation from the bench.”

    American must be repealed to the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights of 1789, when government was limited to:

    Common Defence
    Promotion of General Welfare

    while the “blessings of liberty” were freedom and free enterprise without interference by government. People have to adapt to their own characteristics and live with the consequences of freedom. Charity is a vibrant and flourishing free market industry in the private sector. Any man may open and operate a charity

    (Abraham Lincoln was free to boycott, recommend divestiture and operate a charity – Abe chose to kill).

    The principles of the Communist Manifesto are anathematic and unconstitutional:

    NO Central Planning
    NO Control of the Means of Production
    NO Social Engineering
    NO Redistribution of Wealth

    The American thesis is freedom and self-reliance.

    Madison et al. intended no amendment and only amendment providing clarification, not modification. The founding documents were written to stand In perpetuity. Who among you, excluding Karl Marx, believes himself qualified to amend the Ten Commandments?

    Government exists in America to facilitate freedom.

    Free men and free businesses live and die and take care of themselves.

  3. Wow. Olly. Get a fracking life. Can you read? I said YES, I support it. Let them sue the president. Let them take back some power. Let them stop being a bunch of whiny cowards and do something other than throw tantrums. Let SCOTUS decide something. And then let them and you and all the other crybabies live with it should another republican ever get into office. Jeebus Crispness boy, pay attention.

  4. “I DO hope that Congress will step up and take back their power.”

    Good to know phillyT you support Turley and Congress as they sue Obama over the power of the purse. Of course to oppose such an action would demonstrate your supposed HOPE is a bald-faced lie.

  5. Sorry DBQ but you’re dead wrong. If you read my posts instead of just projecting your own fears and wishes you would see what I ACTUIALLY said.

    Truth is, I lived through Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes. I thought they were all pretty terrible, especially Reagan who most definitely should have been impeached over Iran Contra. Somehow Congress managed to work with all those horrible terrible presidents. But the Congresses elected during Obama’s tenure have been a bunch of babies, whining, crying, screaming and refusing to do their jobs.

    I survived all those stupid republican presidents, and you will survive this one.

    As I ACTUALLY said in my previous posts, I DO hope that Congress will step up and take back their power. But I doubt it because they are a bunch of cowards and paranoids. They voted to repeal the ACA 57 times or so, but not ONE of them has ever proposed an alternative. They won’t even authorize military action in Syria because they are such a bunch of cowards none of them will stand up for anything.

    Back in the day, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to get that disgrace of a president Nixon out of office. Both parties. Did their jobs. Also came together to reform the CIA. All they Republicans can do now is say NO. No new ideas. No real legislation. Bunch of cowards and do-nothings.

    Maybe try reading my posts, unless it’s just easier to make sh*t up.

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