by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
“I keep waiting, desperately and near hopelessly, for the Left and the media to reach a Niemöller epiphany before it’s too late,” I wrote last June after the IRS abuse revelations (latest news: Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, just revealed that one hundred percent of the 501(c)(4) groups audited were conservative).
I wrote last August about the silence of professors and media pundits who used to be ever-ready with warnings about an Imperial Presidency when the officeholder was Republican:
The voluntary abdication of their oversight out of blatant service to party politics of the moment, without regard to the negative long-term effects on the country of the precedents they are allowing to set — and not just without their objection, but with their active engagement in trying to destroy those who do object — is one of the great shames of the 21st Century. There is not a Pastor Niemöller among them, just simpleton Parsons.
At least one is speaking out, finally. Jonathan Turley, a constitutional professor and attorney at the George Washington University law school, testified before Congress about dangerous Executive Branch overreach and reiterated his warnings on Fox News with Megyn Kelly:
KELLY: Let me ask you about this because in that soundbite we played before we went to commercial, you said the framers would be horrified because everything they did was to create balance between the branches of government and we’ve lost that.
TURLEY: Well, I’m afraid it’s quite serious because the framers created a system that was designed to avoid one principle thing, the concentration of power in any one branch. Because that balancing between these branches in this fixed orbit is what not only gives stability to our system but it protects us against authoritarian power, it protects civil liberties from abuse.
And what we’ve been seeing is the shift of gravity within that system in a very dangerous way that makes it unstable, and I think that’s what the president is doing. I think that we’ve become a nation of enablers. We are turning a blind eye to a fundamental change in our system. I think many people will come to loathe that they remained silent during this period.
KELLY: We heard a lot of objections when President Bush expanded the powers of the presidency from the left and from the media. They haven’t been raising the same objections now that we have a Democrat in The White House. And you say they do so at their own peril.
TURLEY: I’m afraid this is beginning to border on a cult of personality for people on the left. I happen to agree with many of President Obama’s policies, but in our system it is often as important how you do something as what you do.
And I think that many people will look back at this period in history and see nothing but confusion as to why people remained so silent when the president asserted these types of unilateral actions. You have a president who is claiming the right to basically rewrite or ignore or negate federal laws. That is a dangerous thing. It has nothing to do with the policies; it has to do with politics.