Progressives are rejoicing now that it seems there are no legal challenges left for President Donald Trump to avail himself of. It looks like we’re about to see Joe Biden in the White House. While that’s far from ideal, it simply is what it is.
Unsurprisingly, though, it seems that progressives who have blasted Trump for supposedly abusing the power of his office want Biden to do the exact same thing.
For four years, Democrats have protested President Trump’s aggressive use of presidential authority, accusing him of abusing his powers as he sought to bypass Congress’ control of federal spending, defy its subpoenas and flout the Senate’s authority to confirm senior government officials.
Now, President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he would abide by traditional restraints on presidential power — and perhaps accept some new ones — as part of his effort to restore norms that Trump trampled.
But a lot of progressive Democrats would like to see him do just the opposite.
The debate over how aggressively to push executive authority is emerging as the latest point of tension between the nascent Biden administration and the Democrats’ left wing.
Faced with the prospect that Republicans in Congress will block major legislation, progressive groups are increasingly going public with demands that Biden commit to broad uses of executive authority to wipe out student loan debt, reform the immigration system and combat climate change, among other priorities.
And it’s not just activists in those topics pushing Biden.
That’s right. The anti-gunners are at it, too.
Major gun control organizations have urged him to use his authority to achieve less dramatic goals that the president-elect is likely to favor. Everytown for Gun Safety, for example, recently issued what it described as a “road map” for gun policy. It included executive actions to tighten loopholes in federal background checks for gun sales, crack down on so-called “ghost guns” — gun parts that can be purchased online without background checks, then assembled into working firearms — and put new resources into research on the impact of gun violence.
And let’s be honest here, Trump has laid the foundation for Biden being able to do just that. By using the power of his office to push the ATF to reclassify bump stocks, he may have headed off potential legislation, but now he’s laid down a roadmap for just such action.
To be sure, Biden may claim he’ll respect these “traditional limits” on executive power, but he’s already made clear his intention to use it to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights. That makes any other claims he might make regarding respecting those limits suspect.
Then again, he was Obama’s vice president. His then boss was famous for his use of executive action wherever and whenever he felt like it, so there’s little reason to believe Biden won’t be the same way.
Yet as the left has lamented every executive action taken by the Trump administration, we can see what the real problem was. It was simply what the president was doing, not how he was doing it. If it were a question of his method, they wouldn’t be so quick to jump and do the exact same thing this time around.