Barack Obama became president on the back of a landslide victory in 2008, promising “hope and change.” However, that’s not what happened. Instead of hope and change, we got sluggish economic growth and a divided country.
But there was another problem with the Obama presidency, one that isn’t talked about nearly enough: his disdain for the Constitution. Despite his career in law before taking office, and his stint in the US Senate representing Illinois, his constitutional knowledge is somewhat lacking, at least compared to his successor Donald Trump, a man with no official experience in law at all.
Ever since announcing he was running for office back in July 2015 in a press briefing in the NYC Trump tower, President Donald Trump has argued for the upholding of the Constitution. Over the course of nearly two years of campaigning, he promised gun owners of America that he would uphold their Second Amendment rights, and made it clear that he was committed to preserving the Constitution over the long term with the appointment of constitutionalist Supreme Court Judge, Neil Gorsuch following the death of Antonin Scalia.
However, just as Trump was campaigning to preserve the legal validity of the more-than-200-year-old document, Obama was taking a hatchet to it. Whether it was his stance on illegal immigration or the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, Obama seemed hell-bent on getting rid of any part of the Constitution which didn’t conform to his ideological beliefs. Though Obama paid lip service to the document – as all American Presidents must – his actions told a different story. Whenever the Constitution stood in the way of his political goals, he ripped it up and tossed it aside.
Despite his career as a law lecturer, Obama was constantly in trouble with the Supreme court during his Presidency. Though his coming to loggerheads with lawmakers was rarely reported with any pomp and ceremony by the media, they were far more frequent than the current President’s, or any of his predecessors for the last 70 years. A study revealed that President Obama had been in trouble with the country’s top lawmakers on at least 13 separate occasions, all of which were reported by Politifacts back in 2014. Obama repeated exceeded his presidential authority in cases involving both the Senate and institutions in the executive branch of government.
The question, of course, is why did Obama pursue such a reckless policy? Part of the explanation comes down to his voter base. The Democrats have long been supported by minority groups, particularly Hispanics. They voted by 2 to 1 for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, despite Donald Trump’s promise for better jobs and pay. Obama understood the importance of this voter block, and so he placated them by ignoring the unconstitutionality of illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, and DACA.
Trump, on the other hand, always argued that the current situation regarding illegal immigration was unconstitutional and, importantly, that changing the status quo would not require a constitutional amendment. After consulting with top legal experts, many admitted that he was right, again demonstrating his legal acumen.
Although Trump never officially studied law or the Constitution, he’s arguably been steeped in it all his adult life. Navigating complex business deals and interacting with political figures to advance his business empire – not to mention dozens of legal disputes – have provided him with a legal perspective few presidents in history have had. He understands the legal process and how to play the game, proudly claiming on several occasions that he “never settles,” because it encourages other people to file their own complaints.
There is hope for the Constitution though under Trump. Ever since the beginning of his Presidential campaign, he railed against Obama’s liberal use of executive orders, arguing that the reason the former president was so reliant on them was that he couldn’t get people into a room and have them agree on his ideas.
According to Trump, Obama’s attitude towards the country, the constitutions, and his presidency was short-term. All he cared about was making sure he got the job done before he left office, not the effect that his actions would have on the country at large. So far, the majority of Trump’s executive orders simply rescind those put in place by Obama, many of which were unconstitutional in the first place.
Despite only being in the job for seven months, President Trump is already running rings around Obama – perhaps the most anti-constitutionalist in history – on matters related to the Constitution. Finally, it appears that America has a president who respects the founding document of this great country.