Charlatan Magazine

Executive Action Hero

JANUARY 30, 2021

Joe Biden signed an unprecedented 40 Executive Actions during his first week in office. More, in fact, than all his predecessors combined.

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Since George Washington in 1789, presidents have been issuing actions that can be described as executive orders. Washington, in particular, had the uncanny ability of being just vague enough to strike terror in his administration. The first of his directives went out to all the departments and instructed them to “impress me with a full, precise, and distinct general idea of the affairs of the United States.”

While the United States Constitution does not have a provision that explicitly permits the use of executive orders, its Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution from which the culture was created. "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America and he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Perhaps the most famous executive order came from none other than President Abraham Lincoln himself when in 1862 he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. On January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war, Lincoln proclaimed "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states, are, and henceforward shall be free."

While Executive orders are just presidential directives issued to their departments, during the Civil War Lincoln used an “Executive Order Establishing a Provisional Court in Louisiana” to create a court and appoint a judge to go along with it.

It is in the presidents’ gift to appoint judges both to the federal and U.S. Supreme Court. Donald Trump, in fact, appointed 3 supreme court judges and 226 federal judges during his tenure in office, effectively shifting the U.S. judicial system to conservatism. Yet Executive Actions can and have historically been overturned by the High Court.

Harry Truman's Executive Order — placing all of the country's steel mills under federal control during WWII — was ultimately invalidated by the Supreme Court. It attempted to create a law, rather than to clarify a law, put forth by the Congress or the Constitution.

Wars have been waged via executive actions, too. The Kosovo War, in particular, was fought with Bill linton’s signature when he signed an executive order authorizing NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia. Yet all wars are subject to the War Powers Resolution. While a president can declare a war, he or she needs the U.S. congress to consent to it and ultimately authorize a campaign longer than 60 days.

The early presidents, the founders, in particular, were reticent to write executive orders. Madison, Adams and Monroe all wrote just one. They were leery of kings and queens and eager to engage and nurture their new democracy. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that we see those numbers jumping into the double and triple digits. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for instance, wrote the most executive orders with 3,522 at an unprecedented time of economic austerity. Woodrow Wilson wrote 1,803 during the Spanish Flu, and Calvin Coolidge wrote 1,203 at the outset of the Great Depression. Joseph R. Biden, Jr — during his first week in office — wrote an unpresented 43 in response to the havoc wreaked by his predecessor and the global coronavirus pandemic.

He chastened America with Racial Equity, admonishing the U.S. census to tabulate and include all of her people in the census. He admonished her to become a little more green; by cancelling the Keystone Pipeline permit, electrifying all the governments cars, and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. He encouraged her to be more tolerant by eradicating Muslim travel bans, reversing a transgender military ban, and reaffirming the Indigenous People’s tribal sovereignty. He encouraged her to start making and manufacturing products here at home again and promised that 100 million Americans would be vaccinated by Spring. Indeed, new cases in the U.S. have fallen a sharp 35% over the past three weeks.

An executive action recognizes an event and triggers a response. Of the 13,985 that have been written since 1789, all were addressed to government officials but delivered to the soul of the nation. The New Deal, in fact, rescued the United States from the economic collapse following the Great Depression, and filled in where the U.S. Congress and banking industry had catastrophically failed. That FDR’s portrait has reclaimed center stage in the Oval reminds us that those who won’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

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US News and World Report

Celebrating America

The presidential inauguration is typically a day of parades, balls and ceremonies attended by massive crowed and public officials. Due to security concerns around the pandemic, and the 2021 Siege on the U.S. Capitol, the inauguration committee encouraged Americans not to travel to Washington for the 59th Inaugural. Nevertheless, the stars were out and shinning.

Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks all sang at the swearing-in ceremony, after which a 90-minute special celebrating a new era of American history unfolded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, John Legend and Ant Clemons. Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” was performed against perhaps the single most spectacular fireworks display in the history of Washington D.C.

Celebrating America shined a light on just some of the American heroes including — teachers, essential workers, health professionals, and medical responders — and was designed to highlight the confluence of many different cultures now coexisting in the fabric of America.

Trump Legacy

Donald Trump was the 4rd President in American history to willfully skip the inauguration of his successor, instead mounting Air Force One at 8:00am as the U.S. President with the lowest approval rating in American history. According to Gallup Poll, he left office on Wednesday with a 29% approval rating somehow descending even deeper into the bowels of disapproval than Richard Nixon. Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” played to the crowds below as the president’s last official flight carried Donald and Melania Trump home.

He'll be remembered for tax cuts and trade tariffs and twitter, of course. He’ll be remembered for putting three conservative justices on the High Court, fast tracking over 200 federal judges, and for leaving the United States judiciary more conservative. The economy expanded faster than it had under his predecessor, and unemployment had reached new lows, offset by a hemorrhaging national debt which expanded to a record $7 trillion.

He’ll also be remembered for his response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the 2021 Siege on the U.S. Capitol, and as the only President in United States history to be impeached twice.

He’ll be remembered for erecting 400 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. It was less than half of the 1000 miles he promised, none of which Mexico paid for, and did in fact reduce illegal immigration. He’ll be remembered for converting U.S.-China Foreign relations into a veritable Cold War, but at the same time taming an increasingly repressive, powerful, and assertive saber into a more sober position. He’ll be remembered for brokering historic accords between Israel and four once-hostile Arab neighbors, and he’ll be remembered for reducing U.S. military forces in conflict zones — Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria — to all-time lows in a doctrinal disdain for what he referred to as “Americas endless wars.”

Trump championed the white rural and working-class resentment into 74.2 million votes whilst the remaining 260 million Americans were getting their footing in the American dream. He'll return to private life in Palm Beach Florida to confront federal and civil lawsuits, and to contend with a legacy that left the nation more divided, polarized and divisive than at any time since the Civil War.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, referring to utility companies that took advantage of the American people, once said, “My friends judge me by the enemies I have made.” Still relatively new to Twitter, the now defunct @realdonaldtrump once tweeted that line himself.

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