Sowell says debates about particular issues shouldn’t distract us from the larger picture

Thomas Sowell devotes his latest column to the debate over America’s future that could get lost in a discussion of various hot issues of the day.

The America that has flourished for more than two centuries is being quietly but steadily dismantled by the Obama administration as it tries to deal with particular issues.

For example, the merits or demerits of President Obama’s recent executive order, which suspends legal liability for young people who are here illegally (presumably as a result of being brought here as children by their parents), can be debated pro and con. But such a debate overlooks the much more fundamental undermining of the whole American system of constitutional government.

The separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government is at the heart of the Constitution of the United States — and the Constitution is at the heart of freedom for Americans.

No president of the United States is authorized to repeal parts of legislation passed by Congress. He may veto the whole piece of legislation, but then Congress can override his veto if they have enough votes. Nevertheless, every president takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws that have been passed and sustained — not just the ones he happens to agree with.

If laws passed by the elected representatives of the people can be simply overruled unilaterally by whoever is in the White House, then we are no longer a free people choosing what laws we want to live under.

When a president can ignore the plain language of duly passed laws, and substitute his own executive orders, then we no longer have “a government of laws, and not of men” but a president ruling by decree, like the dictator in some banana republic.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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