In my last post I discussed the apparent inversion of the responsibility of the executive branch of government, namely that it has taken on a far greater role in domestic policy while turning its back in large part on its traditional responsibility for foreign affairs. The result has been an over-mighty presidency at home, a weakened and ineffectual Congress, and a rudderless foreign policy. While I challenged the American public to rise against the tide of executive overreach, I did not thoroughly address what Congress itself can do to challenge the siphoning away of its traditional powers. There is in fact a great deal it can do.
It was long the case that American presidents held less power on domestic issues than the Congress. The executive branch could only enact the laws of the legislature with a limited tendency to veto. The president’s real power lay in setting foreign policy, as he had much more freedom of action in that arena than on the home front wherein the checks and balances of the Constitution were in full force. That traditional balance has been overridden in the current political system. The fault for this breakdown of traditional magisteria of influence lies with both the executive and the legislative branches.