It’s a scary thought, but here it is: If some red states were to openly defy the authority of President Obama in the exercise of his constitutional duties, would today’s Republican Congress side with him? Or would they honor the insurrection?
I wish it could be said with confidence that the legislative branch would oppose a rebellion against the executive branch of government. But I’m not so sure.
Last month, the Republican-led Arizona House of Representatives passed, on a 36-to-24 party-line vote, a bill sponsored by tea party Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the President of the U.S. that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”
If adopted by the Arizona Senate and signed into law, executive orders issued by the president would have no force or effect in that state. What’s more, the Arizona House has passed a number of other bills aimed at nullifying policies, rules and regulations of the Obama administration that have not been approved by Congress.
The word “insurrection” does come to mind. Yet the resistance out West to federal authority has been received in virtual silence on Capitol Hill. It’s almost as if the GOP Congress wanted an uprising against the president.
This country has drifted far beyond the rough-and-tumble give-and-take that historically occurs between the parties. It’s one thing to oppose the president’s policies. It’s quite another to refuse to acknowledge presidential authority.
That’s what we are witnessing in the Arizona House. That’s what we also saw with the 47 Republican senators who wrote to the Iranian government, warning that Obama is seeking a nuclear agreement that won’t last beyond his administration.
Sabotaging Obama shows up in other ways.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told countries involved in negotiating a U.N.-brokered international climate change agreement that they should “proceed with caution” because of intransigent opposition to Obama’s efforts to significantly scale back U.S. carbon emissions.
McConnell also seeks to undermine presidential authority here at home. In a March 3 op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell told states to ignore the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate for clean power regulations. “Think twice before submitting a state plan,” McConnell implored the states. “Hold back.”
The Arizona insurrection, the GOP senators’ attempt to undermine negotiations over a nuclear agreement, the Senate leader’s effort to rupture international climate change negotiations and his call for open defiance of federal regulations are all aimed at marginalizing Obama by rendering him powerless.
Sometimes, in their zeal, the Republicans get out of control.