A common theme amongst the power hungry is their ability to work around systems and practices to remain in power. Whether it be changing the laws on the books to benefit themselves, redistricting to retain more votes, enacting emergency orders unnecessarily, or using bureaucracies to execute an agenda.
In the time of ‘now’ where instant gratification is expected, politicians are resorting to nefarious practices to stay ahead. Instead of acknowledging that a democracy as large as the United States with the checks and balances built into the foundation takes time, Washington politicians beg, borrow, and steal to create the perception that they can deliver anything at warp speed.
The circumvention of the American foundation is a disease infecting government from the city to the national level. Although it often seems the system is working, politicians are constantly working against it. In the executive branch, executive orders and emergency powers are both unconstitutional forms of circumvention by presidents desiring more authority. Or when Congress writes laws that go directly against Supreme Court rulings, undermining the final decision power of the courts. The US justice systems are even using private warrants and illegally collected information to blackmail people in power or keep people from attaining power.
In fact, any pain felt among the American people can usually be traced back to this type of work around and constitutional violation. The most obvious example being the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency orders were meant to be used in times of war, not to quash ideas and possible solutions to illness. Furthermore, emergency orders were not meant to be put in place to eliminate democracy or take power from the people but to protect them from invading foreign enemies. However, what we saw during the pandemic was authoritarianism – sweeping demands and laws without a single vote from the people being cast. The COVID-19 emergency orders also gave many governors the right to award no-bid contracts, which resulted in billions of fraudulent contracts given to political donors.
The ability to reward no-bid contracts during a declared emergency was designed so that wartime leaders could buy supplies, weapons, or infrastructure to keep people safe. However, today it’s a blank check for politicians to do anything that benefits them. As of today, the emergency orders for COVID 19 issued by the president have been extended 11 times. During these emergency declarations, hundreds of billions of dollars have been redirected to welfare and Medicaid, whilst taxpayer costs went up.
Additionally, executive orders are another form of circumventing checks and balances giving the President unchecked control over things like energy, supply chain, travel restrictions, and military action without votes. George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden are guilty of abusing executive orders like the misuse of tarp funds or the cancellation of new drilling leases. This form of executive overreach has become the new normal and goes directly against the purpose of government of “by and for the people”.
The executive branch is not the only area of government that constantly uses loophole and workarounds to avoid the democratic process. We just saw this with Congress in response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Instead of respecting the final decision of the Supreme Court, which it is the final decision, Congress decided to create laws that circumvent the ruling. Enacting a handful of abortion rights laws from Congress that go directly against a Supreme Court ruling is an exercise in futility. The same applies with the marriage protection act that protects same-sex marriage, which as of today has been ruled constitutional. Until something changes no additional federal laws can change that. When Congress creates new or additional laws that directly violate a Supreme Court ruling, they are waiving their middle finger at democracy.
The last but probably the most serious circumvention of democracy is within the Justice Department. Whether or not the motivation is politically driven, the Justice Department has a set of off-book laws and work arounds to avoid accountability. Things like FISA warrants used by the FBI, The Patriot Act used by Homeland Security, illegal surveillance used by the entire Justice Department, and hush-hush illegal weapon regulations within the ATF.
These practices of working around the restrictions and checks and balances within our democracy is why we end up with things like erroneous laws, record breaking energy prices, illegal surveillance, and the presumption of guilt versus innocence. The Constitution was not designed to make things easy. In fact, avoiding the people and the process is what motivates authoritarians and dictators.
Today we have an extremely divided government with the two sides in Congress refusing to work with one another. It’s frustrating and keeps things from getting done, but that is the point of our democracy. It should be difficult. Part of being a politician in a democracy is to diplomatically convince others to your side. Instead, our politicians today would rather use things like emergency orders, silly laws, and illegal law enforcement practices to selfishly get what they want.
Divisiveness, a specific party or politician, groups, speeches, and tech companies are not the true threat to democracy. Each do have their own contributions to constitutional ignorance, but the only thing threatening our democracy is not following the democratic process. Almost everything painful we’re feeling now such as economic conditions, foreign relations, and censorship are results of circumventing the Constitution and American democracy.
There are a million ways to lose weight, but if you don’t make it a way of life you will always regain again. Our democracy cannot be treated like a fad diet, it’s a way of life. Democracy must be worked, lived, and practiced all day everyday. It's the oath every politician took when we elected them. Democracy needs to be respected and appreciated, not used as an attack on political opposition. Sadly, Washington sees democracy as a hurdle and not a solution, or more importantly, our salvation.
A Convention of States is our last chance to demonstrate the power of democracy and our Constitution when worked correctly. Article V was written to preserve democracy. It does not abuse it and until we reign in those in Washington who do not respect democracy or our Constitution, our pain will continue to grow.
The largest threat that exists to democracy would be NOT calling a Convention of States, which would correct many of the loopholes hurting us today.