role of government in the current debates surrounding the enactment of universal healthcare and the illicit drug war along the Mexican border, it is critical to look to the powers granted by the Constitution. Yet, the Constitution has always meant different things to different people throughout American history. As any law student will tell you, one of the major conflicts surrounding the Constitution is the concept of Originalism. This legal understanding holds that if the Constitution is to mean anything, the courts must interpret it through the lens of the men who put the ink to the paper and established the government (Scalia, 1998). Yet, significant flaws exist in this theory as the Founders themselves were not of one mind but were a diverse and politically combative group to the point of fighting duels with one another (e.g. Hamilton's murder at the hands of Burr). To return to these modern issues, the real issue being faced is the power of the federal government to address issues that were not specifically assigned to it in the Constitution and how that document should be interpreted.
Proponents of universal healthcare argue that the legislation enacting it was Constitutional under Congress' expressed power to regulate interstate commerce. Detractors argue that rather than mere interstate commerce regulation, the healthcare legislation is an un-constitutional tax that overrides states' rights. Unlike other requirements imposed on citizens, such as serving on juries, registering for the draft, filing tax returns or responding to the census, the legislation requires citizens to engage with a private insurance provider (Washington Post, 2011). Focusing on the border violence, the issue is one of the healthcare debate in reverse. Critics complain there is too little federal action and that states should be allowed to address the issue despite the fact that it involves non-state actors working from within the borders of a foreign power. Constitutionally, it is only the federal government which has the right to interact with foreign states and therefore this is a minimal case that can be made for states to act besides that of self-defense (Immigration Policy Center, 2009).
To remedy these problems, there is one unifying solution. In order to address modern problems, Americans must recognize that the Constitution is a living document which has the elasticity to deal with problems as they arise as long we do not confine ourselves to one single interpretation of its meaning. By understanding the healthcare market as falling within interstate commerce, the government can help millions of its citizens lead healthier, longer lives and remedy the shameful national health statistics in comparison to other developed countries. Furthermore, the federal government can allow states to act appropriately with oversight to defend their border and ensure organized and safe borders. Having the flexibility to govern is vital and should not be restricted by the limitations of men's imagination in the 1780's.
2) To understand why Republican names for the 2012 presidential election are being forwarded one year into the Obama administration, one simply needs to understand the GOP. More than any other president in recent memory, Obama is despised by the Republicans for a variety of factors from the current state of the economy, his successful enactment of healthcare legislation, his foreign policy decisions and entertain all sorts of concerns regarding his race, religion and background. Therefore, it is not surprising that a wave of opposition has emerged.
It is likely that these names will be around into the election cycle and that more will join them. These current names were all governors during the Bush Administration and are therefore removed from the failures and missteps of that Administration while still holding significant positions in the GOP hierarchy. New names will emerged based on what is perceived as Obama's weaknesses. If the economy continues to struggle it is likely that Republicans with experience in the private sector or as governors of successful economies will step forward. If Obama is seen on weak on foreign policy, it is more likely that Republicans with military or national security backgrounds might see an opportunity to run.
The strategy that frontrunner Mitt Romney needs to follow to beat Obama in 2012 is not complicated. Assuming a continued poor economic outlook, he can look back to a successful governorship of Massachusetts as well as time spent in the private sector where he made hundreds of millions of dollars. He can hammer Obama on the employment figures and the high national debt. In addition as Romney is the richest man to ever run for president, with a personal fortune of $250 million, he can essentially fund himself and not rely on donations (Milbank, 2012). Lastly, he will present himself as all Republican candidates do as more American than the Democrat and us Obama's unique ethnicity and race to scare voters. Following these steps it is possible that Romney could overthrow the incumbent.
3) Obama's two-tiered strategy of conciliation with the House GOP and taking initiative on his own policies is both a success and a failure. Stemming from the unprecedented vitriol that emerged from the healthcare debate, Obama has sought to be more inclusive with Republican lawmakers in crafting legislation. Yet, more often than naught his policies have been blocked or filibustered (a Senate rule not found in the Constitution). It seems like currently Obama is following his own lead on legislation but making actions which only superficially look conciliatory to a GOP caucus which has no desire to see the President pass any legislation.
Obama's technique is working in some regards. First, is political. The Congress has the lowest approval ratings on record due to its obfuscation (Fiegerman, 2011). Even some members of the GOP are questioning their leadership when it blocks legislation it once supported because Obama now supports it (Matthews, 2012). Second, is technical. Obama is generally able to get what he wants through recess appointments or executive order so that the kabukis show on Capitol Hill does not affect day-to-day governance.
Where Obama's two-tiered approach is failing is in restoring American confidence and in tackling new major policy issues. Currently, American confidence in the political system and in particularly Congress is abysmal. Also, in this partisan climate it is hard to imagine the effort that would be needed to pass any sort of landmark legislation such as the healthcare bill or any form of deficit reduction moving forward. It is unclear how these issues could be resolved with the current actors in Washington, Democratic and GOP, staying in office.
In short, Obama's two-tiered approach to legislation, being conciliatory to the GOP Congress while also following his own policy plans, has been both a success and a failure. It allows for Obama to paint the GOP as obstructionist which hurts them politically without limiting his ability to run the government. Yet, it discourages the development of new legislation and undermines faith in the American system of distribution of political power.
4) Following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush worked to dramatically expand the power of the chief executive in a variety of ways from the military to the law to relations with Congress. Though he opposed these actions on the campaign trail, Obama is now ignoring many of the same constitutional limits as well regarding. Obama grossly overstepped presidential powers in the manner in which he took us to war in Libya without congressional approval much like Bush did in Iraq. Also, of concern is the Obama administration's use of signing statements. First developed under the Bush administration, this practice allows the President to tack onto any legislation a bunch of things passed in that law that he isn't going to follow (Baker, 2010).
In addition, the Presidency is usurping power through its use of recess appointments. Article II of the Constitution states that the…