The Liberty Test - Part 2

The Liberty Test moves on from evaluating candidates by America’s foundational principles and character to the nitty-gritty of the executive’s constitutional powers.

Voters interested in protecting liberty should pay particular attention to whether the candidate understands the limited powers granted to the president and the federal government. In the late 1780s, the free and independent states of America created a government where all power resided with the people as represented by the states. To ensure the people’s liberty was protected, they wisely limited the scope of the federal government’s powers, and within the federal government delegated specific powers to the legislative, executive and judicial branches. All other power was reserved to the states and the people. This is important.

It would do everyone good to read the Constitution:

Look closely at the powers delegated to the Executive Branch described in Article Two, sections 2 and 3 and to the Legislative Branch in Article One, sections 7, 8 and 9.

The president’s job is to protect our liberty by exercising the tremendous powers of this office with strength and diligence. Liberty is threatened when presidents fail to exercise their authority or exceed it.

America’s founders were very clear that an authoritarian ruler, like a king, was not an option to head the executive branch of this new country. Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #69 responded to concerns that the presidential powers in the Constitution were too expansive. With apologies to Mr. Hamilton, here is a synopsis of his argument.

While a king rules for life, the U.S. Constitution limits the president to a four-year term before running for re-election. The 22nd Amendment further limits the president to only two terms. The idea is that the president would be a citizen statesman, not a career politician. Be aware that President Obama, without mentioning the unconstitutionality of it, said he would be elected to a third term if he wanted to run.

While a king can declare war, raise military forces and command them, the American president is limited to being the Commander-in-Chief of the armed services. The president has great power in directing the armed forces, but he is prohibited from raising an army or making the decision to wage war. Those powers belong to Congress. We haven’t been doing too well in this area, have we?

While a king can appoint ministers, ambassadors and judges at will, the president requires the advice and consent of the Senate. If you will recall, President Obama illegally appointed folks to the National Labor Relations Board without the Senate’s consent, as well as numerous advisors. Have any of the current presidential candidates hinted at avoiding congressional oversight in this area? What liberty-protecting criteria will they use to appoint cabinet members and Supreme Court Justices?

While a king can enter into or disband treaties at will, in essence rewarding and punishing friends and foes alike, the president’s treaties require the consent of the Senate. The Iran “executive agreement” is an egregious violation of this provision. What principles will your candidate follow in negotiating treaties and other international agreements?

While a king can legislate at will, the president’s responsibility is to “take care that the laws are faithfully executed.” Think about the changes this president has made unilaterally to our immigration, justice and health care systems in the past 7 years. He has implemented liberty-limiting regulations and executive orders promulgated with no legislative oversight.

The liberty loving candidate will take a long hard look at how power is delegated by the Constitution, keep what rightly belongs to the federal government, and restore to the states the powers that rightly belong to them, such as education, marriage and healthcare. Over time, this reduction in federal power will result in the government living within its means (perhaps with a balanced budget amendment to guide it), reducing the immoral national debt that will enslave our children and grandchildren, and returning to the people the freedom to control their daily lives.

There are other powers the Constitution gives the president, like appointing officers, welcoming foreign dignitaries, and reporting regularly to Congress on the state of the union. In essence, we are hiring a president to protect our nation, defend our interests abroad, and see that the laws of the land, including the Constitution, are followed.

Which of the candidates seem to embrace an authoritarian “king-like” style of leadership? If any of them win, liberty loses.

Much of the president’s power is wielded in consultation with Congress. Who among the candidates is talking about how they will work with the legislative branch rather than continuing to demonize and marginalize it? How will they do it?

America’s liberty will continue to erode before our eyes unless we the people do the hard work of identifying the candidate who will legally exercise their constitutional power and lead the other branches and the states to do the same.

Is your candidate the liberty candidate?

Next: The Liberty Test – Part Three – Liberty and Policy