Vice President Joe Biden is saying that President Obama may not need Congress to implement tough new gun control laws.
“The president is going to act,” the Vice President said today. “There are executives orders — executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet. But we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action, we believe is required.”
Whatever your position on gun control, we shouldn’t want solutions to such controversial issues through executive authority.
The democratic process is important. It’s what separates us from anarchy, or rule at the point of a gun. But democracy is a concept that society, at large, must buy into. It is not merely the existence of elections in a society that makes democracy. The process is important.
If Americans feel like the democratic process doesn’t count, or if they feel like our rulers can short circuit that process and impose restrictive and controversial new laws through fiat, then we undermine the respect for democracy.
A good parallel for this is the judicial system’s decision to create a right to abortion out of whole cloth. That right did not exist before Roe vs. Wade. We did not engage in the legislative process through it. Our elected representatives did not vote to create that right. The courts simply waved their judicial wands and created it.
And to this day abortion remains one of the most divisive, controversial issues in the nation due no small part to how it was settled.
Win or lose, Americans need to feel like their was a process. They need to feel like they had something to do with that process. That’s what self-government means. But if Americans get the idea that the democratic process only applies some of the time, then they’re going to lose respect for the process.
And if that happens, our society is in peril.