OPINION: Increasing partisan divide calls for increase in executive power

The U.S., a country founded with checks and balances to prevent the exclusive consolidation of power, now needs a strong unitary executive branch to serve its needs.

Article I, Section I of the Constitution prescribes Congress as the sole chamber with legislative authority. Article II empowers the president as the chief lawmaker to enforce law, giving any presidential decree the force of law. A president may use this tool, known as an executive order, to bypass Congress to create new laws. Executive orders are not absolute and the Supreme Court may strike them down if deemed unconstitutional. Congress may also pass legislation, canceling out the executive order. This rarely happens because the presidential veto requires a two-thirds majority from both the House and Senate for a bill to become law.

Historically, executive orders are used to protect vulnerable groups. In 1957, former President Dwight Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10730, sending the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect nine black high school students into all-white Central High School. In 2014, former President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13672, protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination because the Civil Rights Bill was not yet updated by Congress.

Although executive authority is a force for good, critics have pointed to instances where presidential authority was used for evil. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 sent 110,000 Japanese American citizens into Internment Camps without due process of law. The Constitution does suspend the right to trial during times of war, making this order constitutional, albeit immoral.

Obama was criticized for his use of executive authority when he enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Republicans refused to consider this proposal because they controlled the House. History shows us that once institutions gain power, they seldom return it. Based on this premise, President Donald Trump is expanding upon his predecessors’ use of executive authority to make good on campaign promises.

Although it is dangerous to expand the executive branch, worse consequences will follow if presidential authority is not expanded. The Founding Fathers intended the House of Representatives to mirror our nation’s population. They argued that through this system the people would ultimately control the laws being passed. However, political polarization does not allow compromise with those on the opposite end of the spectrum.

As Abraham Lincoln noted during the Gettysburg Address, government is for the people, by the people. This begs the questions: How can a government function if the people it serves cannot find a middle ground? If we cannot compromise with one another as individuals, how can a legislative body representative of us accomplish any reforms?

When the Constitution was written, rival coalitions discussed ideas and compromised for the greater good. Now, Republicans and Democrats blame their opponents for the wrongs within the country, which takes political compromise off the table. As 20th century novelist Ayn Rand wrote: “In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”

Failure to resolve historical issues such as slavery led to the Civil War, which resulted in the deaths of 620,000 Americans. The war ended and the barbaric institution of slavery was disbanded thanks to Lincoln’s willpower.

Whether you agree with his policies or not, Trump is upholding the law. He is removing Congress’ operation lag through enforcing the laws his constituents chose. We have the freedom to elect a president who represents us should a majority of voters disapprove of Trump’s actions. His replacement could declare a National Emergency and reform issues such as healthcare, poverty, discrimination and environmental reforms. Congress will not pass these ideas, but the president can. The office of the president should be expanded because it is the next step in the evolution of our nation’s democracy.