For five years Republicans and their teabagger cohort have thrown around the word tyranny and dictator to ramp up opposition to President Obama for leading the Executive Branch of government while being Black. Leading up to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, there were indications by the White House that the President would announce his intent to use his authority to, among other measures, raise the minimum wage for government contractors to $10.10 per hour through the use of an executive order. Republicans are opposed to any American earning enough to stay out of poverty, and the paltry amount does little more than lift contractors from dire poverty to just poverty. Although President’s have been issuing executive orders for over 120 years, Republicans consider it the height of tyranny and dictatorial power because this President happens to be African American; a cardinal and impeachable sin in conservative circles.
The hypocritical outrage over an African American President issuing executive orders was swift and absurd from Republicans within minutes of the President’s State of the Union, and there were accusations that the President is shredding the Constitution and circumventing Congress, but what Congress? Do Republicans mean the Congress that cannot do its Constitutional job and work for the general welfare of the people, or do they mean congressional Republicans shredding the Constitution by passing a preponderance of biblical laws targeting women for being women and gays for expecting protections guaranteed in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment?
If Republicans had done their jobs and followed the will of the people on a rash of topics important to Americans such as equal pay for women (90%), repeal oil industry subsidies (74%), raising the minimum wage (71%), not shutting down the government (80%), or passing legislation to put more Americans to work in the tech manufacturing sector (90%), President Obama would not have to issue executive orders that admittedly cannot take up the slack from an obstruction-minded and do-nothing Republican caucus. What the President revealed in his State of the Union address was that he is concentrating on what can be done, by himself, instead of what Congress should do if they were not motivated by obstructionism to thwart economic recovery and grind governance to a halt. His effort drew a plethora of accusations of “dictator” from Republicans and conservative pundits alike.
Perennial dunce Michele Bachmann threatened the President with a frivolous lawsuit and stated conservatives in the House might sue him because, “He may think he’s a king, he may declare himself king, but that’s not what he is under our Constitution.” Conservative loudmouth Glenn Beck professed that the president is “America’s first dictator,” and Mark Levin proposed that Republicans in Congress pass a resolution nullifying executive orders as if such a measure would pass the Senate or earn the President’s signature.
Teabagger Ted Cruz said, “Over and over again this president has disregarded the law, has disregarded the Constitution and has asserted presidential power that simply doesn’t exist and that ought to worry regardless of whether you agree with his policies or not.” Libertarian Rand Paul sent out a message on social media outlet Twitter saying, “Mr. President we are a nation of laws & we are supposed to follow our Constitution. You do not get to ‘act alone.'” Texas Republican Steve Stockman actually stood up and walked out of the State of the Union address and said, “I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers.” To listen to Republicans and conservative pundits, Barack Obama is the first President in history to issue an executive order, but Republicans know that is hardly the case.
President Obama has only signed 168 executive orders thus far in comparison to George W. Bush, a white president, who signed more executive orders, 173, in his first four years than President Obama, a Black President signed in just over five years. However, Republicans complain that the President is overstepping his constitutional authority by issuing executive orders that are out of the bounds of his purview that has led them to intimate they may have grounds to file articles of impeachment, but it is something they never considered when George W. Bush signed exactly the same orders.
For example, on December 23rd the President signed an order titled “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay” that mirrors an order Bush signed in December 2008 titled “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay.” On May 21, 2013 the President signed an order titled “Providing an Order of Succession within the Department of Agriculture” that Bush called “Amending the Order of Succession Within the Department of Agriculture” and signed it in January 2009 days before leaving office. President Obama signed an order titled “Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees” on September 20, 2013, and Bush signed the “Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees” on September 28, 2007. On December 7, 2012 President Obama signed an order titled “Establishing the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force” that Bush signed on November 1, 2005 only titled “Creation of the Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding Council.” The executive orders are nearly identical, but when a Black President signs them he is a dictator, oversteps his authority, and thinks he is a king.
Regarding presidential executive orders making adjustments to implementing established laws, Bush signed “Further Amendments to Executive Orders 12139 and 12949 in Light of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008,” “Waiver Under the Trade Act of 1974 with Respect to Turkmenistan,” and “Delegation of Certain Authorities and Assignment of Certain Functions Under the Trade Act of 2002” among many others. When the Black man in the Oval Office signs executive orders dealing with implementation of established laws, he is “circumventing the legislative process” and shredding the Constitution that the previous white president signed with Republicans’ blessings.
As far as President Obama’s intent to sign an executive order dealing with federal government contractor pay that has Republicans threatening legal action, Bush issued, and signed four executive orders including one titled “Preservation of Open Competition and Government Neutrality Towards Government Contractors’ Labor Relations on Federal and Federally Funded Construction Projects,” and “Revocation of Executive Order on Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers under Certain Contracts” plus at least two others. No Republican accused white president Bush of tyranny, dictatorial overreach, circumventing Congress, or overstepping his constitutional authority. Obviously in Republican circles, whiteness has its privilege the current crop of Republican racists and conservative bigots do not extend to the Black man sitting in the Oval Office issuing nearly identical executive orders as the previous white president.
If Republicans are so adamantly averse to a president issuing and signing executive orders, they had 291 opportunities to assail George W. Bush for being a dictator, threaten him with lawsuits, and accuse him of overstepping his constitutional authority. If congressional Republicans had spent one-tenth the time working for the American people that they spent investigating the Affordable Care Act, Benghazi, the I.R.S., Benghazi, or voting 40 times to repeal the ACA, the President would not have to issue executive orders doing the work Republicans fail to do. However, this is not about this President doing everything in his power to address the income inequality crushing the economic life out of Americans and everything to do with his race. From the minute President Obama took the oath of office up until today, Republicans have sought any reason to lambaste him as a tyrant and dictator they claim is shredding the Constitution that in their racist minds is the crime of leading the Executive Branch while Black and nothing more.
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