“When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”~ Richard Nixon
Presidents don’t give up power.
Executive orders don’t expire at the end of each presidential term.
And every successive occupant of the Oval Office since George Washington, who issued the first executive order, has expanded the reach and power of the presidency.
The Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers: to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the military, grant pardons, make treaties (with the approval of Congress), appoint ambassadors and federal judges (again with Congress’ blessing), and veto legislation.
In recent years, however, American presidents have anointed themselves with the power to wage war, unilaterally kill Americans, torture prisoners, strip citizens of their rights, arrest and detain citizens indefinitely, carry out warrantless spying on Americans, and erect their own secretive, shadow government.
These are the powers that will be inherited by the next heir to the throne, and it won’t make a difference whether it’s a President Trump or a President Clinton occupying the Oval Office.
The power to wage war. Ever since Congress granted George W. Bush the authorization to use military force in the wake of 9/11, the United States has been in a state of endless war without Congress ever having declared one. Having pledged to end Bush’s wars, Barack Obama has extended them. As the New York Times notes, “He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president… he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.” More than that, as the Atlantic makes clear, “Obama is inaugurating an era of unbridled war-making by the commander in chief, without any of the checks and balances contemplated by the American constitutional system.”