Check Your Premises

Carl Woodward had a very interesting article in the Baltimore Post-Examiner last week. He made a very clear point that I fully agree with that for the next several election cycles the Republicans will retain control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Any Democratic President is not going to be able to push much, if any,  of a legislative agenda.

He illustrates that with the following:

“Every young man or young woman should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18,” she said, adding that states should also offer at least 20 days of early in-person voting.

The proposal is being hailed by liberals as “a huge reform” (Ari Berman), a “big big move” (Greg Sargent), and a “major step” (Andrew Prokop). Not only would it instantly remove a major obstacle to voting for around 50 million Americans by adding them to the rolls – it would also shift the balance of likely voters to the considerable advantage of Democrats. Americans in general are significantly more progressive than our subset of likely voters.

Source: Democrats should demand executive actionBaltimore Post-Examiner

And follows up with asking exactly how is she going to achieve this goal with a Republican led Congress and he’s got that exactly right. However, she couldn’t have done much to achieve this goal of automatic voter registration and 20 days of in-person voting even with a Democratic controlled House and Senate. States set these election laws, not the federal government. Ms Clinton is basing this campaign plank on a false premise.

That’s a false premise Ms Clinton made. There are other false premises in this article. When I read it I didn’t have time to go into detail so I tweeted:

Again, the president having the power to change voting laws isn’t a false premise of Mr. Woodward’s but it is a false premise that was quoted in the article. I bring that up mostly because people tend to think mostly about Federal legislation and look to the Feds for regulating voting, guns and marriage but in truth the states hold almost all the power in those realms. The Feds are there to keep the states honest and to ensure that state laws are applied with equality to all citizens of a state.

The false premises that I found that were Mr. Woodward’s are found in the following passage in that article:

The crucial difference with executive action: it’s actually possible. The attempt, at least, can be absolutely guaranteed.  And the potential is enormous: consider the executive’s considerable discretion over matters of enforcement, her power to pardon, her control of military affairs and foreign policy, and so on.

Executive actions are limited to how existing laws are administered. Executive actions can’t create new law nor can executive actions create new programs. Executive actions set priorities, policies and procedures for enforcement of laws passed by congress and programs created by congress. It is a false premise that executive powers reach anywhere the magnitude of legislative powers.

There is a false premise that just because the president orders something that is within his or her power to order that there will be funding available to carry out that order. There is also the false premise that the executive power over foreign policy is any more than just a leadership position. Agreements with foreign powers must be ratified and funded by Congress.

While I generally agree with Mr. Woodward’s assessment of Ms. Clinton’s campaigning, she is being completely dishonest in presenting her platform as anything more than a pipe dream, using executive powers in a Democratic administrative with a powerful Republican Congress isn’t the silver bullet he makes it out to be.

Whoever becomes the Democratic president (and I’m not at all confident that will be Hillary Clinton) in that environment has only one hope of moving their agenda will be by working along the fissures in the GOP. There are at least three factions of the GOP find a way to get a lever in the cracks and exert pressure.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

One thought on “Check Your Premises

  1. Larry Burton Post author

    One other premise that was made regarding voter registration and turnout. I don’t see any evidence that difficulty of voter registration is to blame for poor Democratic voter turnout. Apathy seems to be the biggest problem. If you automatically register all voters that could very well reduce the overall voter participation due to their no longer needing to be an outreach like you have with voter registration drives.


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