The relationship between the executive, judicial and legislative branches could be described as similar to three bickering siblings, arguing over petty issues as they stubbornly refuse to compromise, postponing the debates of important topics. Congress has developed a shameless habit of instituting filibusters to derail the topics under discussion and, in order to resolve this, presidents willingly introduce executive orders to further their political agenda regarding controversial issues ranging from immigration to gun control to minimum wage.
In the past several years, Congress has become increasingly stubborn in their beliefs, and their inability to compromise is obvious to both the public and political figures, forcing presidents to use an alarming number of executive orders. What was once used in times of turmoil to rescue the American public when necessary is now a normal procedure overused by the past several presidential administrations. In short, executive orders give presidents an enormous amount of power and the public should be questioning the president’s use of them. Do these orders disregard the three-branch system and sacrifice the voice of the American public? Have political leaders become so divided that executive orders are, in fact, necessary to accomplish anything? Can we not trust our political leaders to make informed decisions based on a genuine concern for the wellbeing of the American people? Why must we resort to centralizing power in a single person, rather than utilize the informed opinions of other political leaders?
Technically speaking, executive orders are permitted and considered necessary to ignite change in our country. On the other hand, the over usage of executive orders will create an unbalanced political system, therefore establishing deeper tension between the parties, branches of government and political leaders. In addition, executive orders have the tendency to undermine the legacy of previous presidents and congressional leaders alike. If the president feels like they must rely on executive orders to implement regulations and laws because Congress refuses to compromise, this fosters a toxic and negative relationship. Yet the American people have no other choice but to place their trust in this dysfunctional institution.
Put simply, the overall support for executive orders will depend on whether the president is a Democrat or Republican. When President Donald Trump announced his executive order regarding immigration earlier this year, millions of Republicans suddenly supported the use of executive orders. Conversely, when President Obama signed his own executive order concerning immigration in 2012, Republicans were outraged at the idea that he could sign an executive order dealing with immigration.
The problem boils down to Congress. If Congress had been slightly more willing to compromise with President Obama, dozens of his executive orders could have been avoided. The gridlock that Republicans in Congress created only caused problems in Washington and discredited the beliefs of the opposing party.
Regarding executive orders, there is a fine line to walk when presidents begin to sign them more frequently. It becomes a question of how to determine if an order is necessary and if so, whether or not it will result in positive change in the future. In the current political climate, executive orders are necessary to accomplish anything. It is worrying that Trump’s executive orders have received incredibly negative responses from the general public, yet he has continued to release them.
For the next four years, Democratic members of Congress should fear the use of executive orders that disregard their opinion and silence their voice. Hopefully Republican Congress members will see that their inability to compromise has created this plague of executive orders.
Katie Anderson ’20 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from St. Paul, Minn. She majors in theater.