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Obama Forgets About Constitutional Rights

It didn’t take long for the Obama presidency to fail to live up to its promise. As our writer Jim noted earlier this year, Barack Obama promised that if he were elected he would restore the constitutional rights that have been degraded under George W. Bush. Of course, that was early in 2008, before Barack Obama tacked to the right, before the Democratic Convention systematically censored comments about restoring constitutional rights, before Senator Obama voted for the FISA Amendments Act.

Oh, but that was all just to help get Obama elected President, said his supporters. Obama was a professor in constitutional law, they said. Surely, once he’s elected, he’ll get to work at restoring the Constitution.

Well, Barack Obama has now been elected. He doesn’t have to worry about voters not supporting him any more. So, what’s Obama doing about restoring our Constitution?

Obama isn’t doing jack.

The Obama team has already set up a special government web site for the transition leading up to Inauguration Day. Prominent on that web site is what’s called The Agenda:

“President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden have developed innovative approaches to challenge the status quo in Washington and to bring about the kind of change America needs.

The Obama Administration has a comprehensive and detailed agenda to carry out its policies. The principal priorities of the Obama Administration include: a plan to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives.”

Comprehensive? Is this agenda comprehensive?

I don’t see thing one about protecting, upholding and restoring the Constitution in this agenda. That’s a glaring omission, given what the Constitution itself has to say about the role of the President. The Constitution establishes the Oath of Office for the President as follows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

There’s nothing about education, or Social Security, or fighting in Iraq in the Oath of Office. The Oath of Office establishes the protection and defense of the Constitution as the core of the President’s job.

Barack Obama isn’t preparing to do that job.

Now, Obama’s defenders may say that the time isn’t right yet. Just like they said before that the Constitution needed to be put on the back burner so that Obama could be elected, now they’re saying that Obama needs to consolidate his power, and make sure that he gets off to a strong start, and so the restoration of constitutional rights will need to be delayed for awhile, until Obama gets firmly established as President.

Firmly established as President? How long will that take? A year? Two years? By that time, it will already by time for Obama to start preparing his re-election campaign, and Obama’s defenders will have their new excuse: Barack Obama will restore our constitutional rights eventually, but first we need to get him a second term in office. They’ll say that Obama will need to make compromises to build a political coalition and to get re-elected, but once 2013 comes around, then we’ll see the reforms to the Constitution that were promised so long ago.

Whatever happened to the power of now? The fierce urgency of now?

We’ve been waiting for almost an entire decade for Democrats to stand up on the Constitution, and if President Barack Obama with his strongly Democratic Congress can’t get the job done now, they will never get the job done.

So, go to that Change.Gov web site, and tell them your story. Let the Obama transition team know what you think them shoving the restoration of Constitutional rights off to the side for the sake of political convenience. Tell them another story too – a story about what you’ll do as a citizen activist to keep the pressure on until President Obama fulfills the Oath of Office, and preserves, protects and defends the Constitution from the rot of Executive authoritarianism.

16 thoughts on “Obama Forgets About Constitutional Rights”

  1. tom says:

    Well, thanks for the link – i explained how i voted for him to restore and uphold the Constitution and DEMANDED he DO HIS JOB.
    Hopefully, he’ll address this during the inauguration. If we don’t restore our basis as a democracy we’ll just spiral further down the fascist, broke, hopeless road to ruin, just like if we don’t start addressing climate change we won’t get a second chance.

  2. James says:

    At least the website switched the required or demand for volunteerism which threatened the 13th ammendment of the constitution…and it does not give me warm fuzzies to see the american dream redefined or how the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty and pursuit of happiness)has suddenly become a collective inspirational instead of an individual right. I voted for Obama. I believe in him. But no president can threaten our liberties, our rights, and definitely the constitution which he swears to uphold because the constitution is bigger than the officer who holds the biggest job of the land.

  3. Hard G says:

    James 10:10, What are you talking about?

  4. Laura says:

    I think this is what James is talking about:

    Another goofball at my work this morning starting sending around an email about how Obama was now going to “require” all Americans to do a certain number of hours of community service. They claimed: See it’s already started, he’s a socialist! This is indentured servatude against the 13th amendment! Get yer guns and run for the hills, he’ll enslave us all to get back at whitey!

    This was the link:

    If you actually READ it, it talks about “calling on” Americans, “setting goals,” and the decision to “choose” volunteerism to help in areas like education, health, veterans, and clean energy.

    Didn’t even President Kennedy say that famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Didn’t he found the Peace Corps? At that time was that called socialism, or did it freak people out with fears of indentured service?

  5. Brandon says:

    James was referring to: “…Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year…”

  6. Hard G says:

    Well, fuck, we might as well move to RUSSIA!

  7. Jim says:

    Yes, HardG, but which one first?

  8. Ralph says:

    I just read this from AP:

    “WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama’s advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the U.S., a plan that the Bush administration said Monday was easier said than done.

    Under the plan being crafted inside Obama’s camp, some detainees would be released and others would be charged in U.S. courts, where they would receive constitutional rights and open trials.”

    Closing Guantanamo and restoring legal rights to the detainees would be a significant step toward the restoration of the rule of law under an Obama presidency.

    Let’s hope he sticks to it.

  9. Jim says:

    That would be *great* news, although not a completion of what he needs to do regarding the return to constitutional government.

    The past eight years have made me into such a cynic that I find myself thinking, “we’ll have to wait until we see it.”

  10. Hard G says:

    Well, he hasn’t solved world peace yet and he’s had a whole week to do it. I have also heard that some people in our own country are HUNGRY still. What dupes we were.

  11. Laura says:

    I know McCain supporters that do have the attitude that Hard G is talking about here in his last comment. I had (yet another) bonehead at my work the day after the election saying, “Everyone on the news says that Obama’s going to change this country for the better. So, what’s changed today? Not one person can tell me anything that’s changed for the better in America this morning.”

    I have to add an additional observation as well: I was thinking more about McCain supporters like the one at my work today sending around that email about endentured service as I mentioned above. From my observations, it really seems to me that many of these people would be thoroughly gleeful if Obama did completely fail as president. This really doesn’t make sense to me from a practical standpoint, even if they are disappointed with the election.

    If McCain did win, while I wouldn’t be happy about it, on some level I believe I’d be at least a *little* bit hopeful that he would do a better job than W. has. After the election I think I would probably say: Ok, you won — now prove me wrong & pull us out of this.

    I mean, this country is in the shitter right now for the most part. If the new president fails miserably, then we’ll all be in even worse shape than we are now. They really want him to completely fail & all of us be worse off just so that they would be able to be proven right? That’s cutting off you’re nose to spite your face. Not exactly logical.

  12. Jim says:

    Ooh, that’s harsh, HardG! The difference between where I stand and the field in which you’ve planted my straw replica is that in the field of straw Barack Obama is a pure resident of a shining city on a hill, a wonderful Wizard of Oz who hasn’t done anything to make him doubtworthy. Where I stand back here in the muddy ditch next to that house that smushed my sister, it’s that very same spot where Barack Obama ditched the 4th Amendment just five months ago. Over here, a little caution is called for.

  13. Jim says:

    Laura, doubt isn’t the same as hoping someone fails. I think we have to be just as careful that we don’t just say to ourselves, “Great! Barack Obama defeated Darth McCain, and now we Ewoks can dance and play stormtrooper-helmet-xylophones!” Just as John McCain isn’t a devil, Barack Obama isn’t a saint. He’s the most powerful man on Earth, and he bears watching.

  14. Laura says:

    I definitely agree that he’s not a saint. He’s a human being (contrary to some opinions) and a politician at that. He’s imperfect and fallible like the rest of us.

    But this is my point: I’ve seen a startlingly high number of people at my workplace (I gotta find another job — if only the job market weren’t so crappy) who not only doubt him, but openly talk about hoping that he fails miserably so that they would be proved right. Again, that would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    If McCain had won, I truly do not believe that I would actually *hope* that he’d fail. If the new president is a complete failure, then the whole damn country is a whole lot worse off than it is now. That wouldn’t be good for any one of us.

  15. Jim says:

    You’re absolutely right.

  16. 1010 wins school closings says:

    I?ll be looking forward to seeing that write-up. 🙂

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