Saturday, February 14, 2015

Governing by executive order; does it mean ‘Shut up and do what you’re told’

How far removed are we from the old days when we had government officials who seriously tried to reach a consensus amongst the electorate on the great issues of our day?

It seems that everybody is choosing to govern these days by executive order, as in permitting the chief executive to issue orders that impose one’s will – regardless of whether there is a serious opposition to that stance.

NOW I KNOW the ideologues who are conservatively motivated amongst us will claim the chief practitioner of this style is President Barack Obama himself – what with the way he’s trying to force something to be done to address the bureaucratic mess that is our nation’s immigration policy.

He has had to use such powers because the Republican political people in Congress have made it clear they are determined to do nothing on this issue.

But while we technically now have an immigration policy that tries to acknowledge that we shouldn’t be thinking in terms of deporting the roughly 11 million individuals now suspected of living in this country without either citizenship or a valid visa, we need to realize it is fleeting.

As is evidenced by the recent activity in Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback issued a pair of executive orders for that state – one of which was solely to rescind the executive order that was imposed eight years ago by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

THAT WAS THE order extending civil rights protections to state government employees based on sexual orientation. Sebelius wanted to ensure that state employees would not be discriminated against if they were gay.

Brownback wants to ensure to the ideologues who support him politically that they don’t have to take any such attitude into consideration when they act on behalf of state government.

As has been pointed out by some observers, a state university professor who was gay woke up one day with certain legal protections, and by the time he went home from work that day, the protections were gone!

Brownback, in his statement, made a point of saying only the Legislature should be able to enact such changes, similar to the ideologues who are claiming only the now-Republican Congress can act in a lasting manner on immigration matters.

WHICH IS VERY realistic to say. Because the reality is that political partisanship is a cyclical matter. It is only a matter of time before a different president comes into power and decides to instantly eliminate the immigration protections that Obama has provided for certain newcomers to our country.

Because the Senate currently is stuck in a mode by which certain members of the GOP majority there are determined to make a stink about immigration. Protections provided by executive order are just too insufficient to amount to anything.

What gay people in Kansas now are going through is going to be the status of immigration across the country if lasting change isn’t made.

All of this is relevant in Illinois as well, because of the way in which new Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued several executive orders this week to impose many ideas he knows are going to be politically unpopular.

MOST RECENTLY, THERE was his desire for government “consolidation” that he says is inspired by DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin – as in cutting government agencies and positions currently filled by people who might be politically opposed to his ideas – much of which are meant to bolster the interests of big business over those of the people.

He also is trying to use executive order powers to inhibit the finances of labor unions representing state employees, although the people who oppose that concept surely are happy that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has already said the governor can't tamper with the union dues withheld from worker salaries and state Comptroller Leslie Munger has said she will follow Madigan's legal advice.

These are two of among 15 orders he’s already managed to issue during his month in office. It will be intriguing to see how the Democratic-controlled General Assembly responds, and if we get the same type of tactics that Congress is usingto try to undo Obama’s immigration desires. Or will there simply be a waiting game for a future date when a new governor can instantly erase everything Rauner is doing now with a few swipes of the “executive order” pen?

Regardless of how one views the issues, you have to admit that this level of instability and lack of any lasting public policy IS the real problem our governments face today!


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