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Campaigning? Yes. Governing? No.

By Ken Hoagland

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 12:25 p.m. MST

FILE - In this June 21, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

Carolyn Kaster, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Yes, dividing the country was an effective campaign strategy for candidate Barack Obama. Yes, talking non-stop about Mitt Romney and those dirty Republicans worked for him. He won.

It’s over. Or, is it?

He’s still campaigning and still heaping scorn on all those who disagree with him. His inaugural speech did not seek to bring the nation together nor did his State of the Union speech. Not even a nod to the truth that we are all motivated by love of country. Nothing.

Now he is campaigning again to force yet more concessions from House Republicans who already gave in on higher taxes to avoid the fiscal cliff — but he won’t talk with them to avoid the sequester.

It’s proven an effective strategy for winning the office but a disaster in actually governing. When will Obama actually take office and begin acting like a president instead of a candidate?

When will he actually do the hard work of compromise with the legislative branch of our government? The Founding Fathers thought that checks and balances were essential to a government that reserved the final word to the people. To Obama, checks and balances seem to be an insult.

As he promised in the State of the Union speech, if Congress disagrees, he’ll just go it alone on key public policy questions facing the nation. The president, peeved that all do not share his vision of greater and greater debt, greater and greater citizen dependency, anti-growth policies and international dithering, will petulantly hold his breath and talk, in carefully scripted campaign-style events, only to those who agree with him.

Now, however, there are growing signs that even Obama’s cheer-leading media are starting to question his absence of leadership. They are starting to notice that he is leaving out central truths of his responsibility for things like sequestration. Things like the lagging economic recovery. Things like allowing terrorists to gain influence with the Syrian opposition. They are, in essence, starting to ask if the emperor’s new clothes are quite as resplendent as they have reported in the past.

Perhaps they will remember that in our system of government the legislative branch is supposed to represent the hopes, fears, ambitions and yes, combined wisdom of the American people. It is a counter-balance and a sometimes cooperative body but, above all, a separate source of governmental power, distinct from the executive branch. So what does it say when a president not only refuses to deal with representatives of the people, but negates existing federal law by executive fiat?

Many presidents have used executive orders, but few have abused the legislative process or the rule of law so casually or so enthusiastically without indignation from a vigilant “watchdog” press.

Is it really OK that this president “waivered” 4 million Americans out of his own “signature issue,” Obamacare? By what legal right does he refuse to enforce existing immigration laws or the No Child Left Behind legislation? How about the Defense of Marriage Act? Where does he get off granting waivers to welfare/work rules when existing federal legislation is supposed to be the law of the land?

When a citizen disagrees with a law there is no legal option to simply ignore that law. We are told to seek legislation to change it. But this president won’t even talk with legislators. He insists that he will get what he wants and he will do it without compromise and without legislation. The real question of his citizenship is not where he was born but whether he honors the definition.

It is said that George Washington refused titles that smacked of royal deference. He insisted that the protocol for addressing the president be either, “Mr. President” or “Mr. Washington” to make the point that in this country we are all equal citizens under the law. Does Mr. Obama object to this fundamental truth about the American system of government? He acts as if he does.

Ken Hoagland is chairman of Restore America’s Voice, an advocacy group of 2 million citizens who believe that consent of the governed is being ignored in public policy decisions.

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