on Pandering

“Pander: to do or provide exactly what a person or group wants, especially when it is not acceptable, reasonable or approved of, usually in order to get some personal advantage” ~ from the Cambridge Online Dictionary

This past week our President decided to go around Congress and make his own form of immigration law by refusing to deport those illegal immigrants that were brought here as children and granted them the ability to get legal work permits. A few weeks before that, he announced that his beliefs had “evolved” to be supportive of same sex marriage and refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Unfortunately, as his reelection draws ever nearer, the President seems more concerned on pandering to special interests that fulfilling his duties as President, which is the enforcement of current law.

Obama has claimed that he is taking these actions based on what he believes is the right and fair thing to do, as well as the Constitutional thing to do. The problem with this though is this: that is not the job of the Executive branch to make that determination. Only the Judicial Branch can interpret what is and what is not constitutional, and only Congress can make or change the law. Our Founders had lived through a Revolution to cast off the tyranny of a King, and so were careful to construct a new government that would prevent the centralization of power around one man. President Obama took an oath to support the Constitution, which clearly delegates certain powers to each branch of government in order to prevent the tyranny of one from happening again. Does that make government slow moving and difficult? Absolutely, but that is the point. It is the only way to ensure that the desires of the nation are met, rather than the desires of one person or preferred group.

The President did this not out of a personal sense of fairness, but out of political convenience. The shameless pandering to specific groups defies any definition of fairness. For instance, in the case of lax immigration enforcement, is it really fair to reward the decisions of these children’s parents to break the law, yet penalize those children of immigrant parents who chose to follow the law? Those children whose parents followed the law never had the opportunity to become good students here, or immersed in American culture, because they are still patiently waiting for entry into our country. Are their personal stories any less moving than those that are here illegally? And finally, how is granting work permits to 800,000 young illegal immigrants fair to those millions of legal Americans (many who are immigrants themselves) who are currently out of work? Did you know that the unemployment rate for 16-19 year old Americans is 24.9%? This defies any real definition of fairness- it is political pandering, nothing more.

Pandering to special interest groups via selective enforcement of the law in the hopes of garnering more votes for an election is slimy and pathetic; it debases the office of the Presidency. I suppose all Presidents of both parties have done their fair share of pandering over the history of our young nation, but this President is flagrantly violating the clear separation of Constitutional powers and that borders on treasonous. At the very least, it is a violation of his Constitutional oath. I don’t know about you, but when I make a vow, I honor it. I don’t make a promise unless I am prepared to fulfill it. Since when has it been okay to break one’s word? If he is not comfortable fulfilling his oath, then he should never have made it in the first place.

I know what some of you might be saying now – “but all politicians, from both parties, have pandered and broken promises”. True, but isn’t it time that we stop tolerating this? It is clear that those who do that care not a whit about the damage it causes to our nation. Perhaps we need to start holding our elected officials to the same standards which we instill in our own children: Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t cheat. Always keep your promises. If ordinary American children can understand these simple truths, why do we adults continue to support and elect those that do not?

With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.” ~ President Barak Obama, at a town hall event on March 28th, 2011, hosted by Spanish-language television network Univision at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

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