Responsible leadership from Congress? Not lately.As you may know, there has not yet been a congressional bill approving the use of force in Libya. The War Powers Act mandates that Congress authorize war no more than 60 days after the commencement of military operations. US-run airstrikes on Qaddafi's forces continue, despite the fact that the deadline has passed and the act has been violated. Now, Obama continues to insist that Libya constitutes a special exemption. In continuing Bush's legacy of forays into expanded executive privileges, Obama is flouting the constitutional system of checks and balances, spending money to interfere abroad without permission from the people's representatives. Unfortunately, none of them seem to care. When Senator Rand Paul pushed for Senate debate on the issue of going to war, he was shut down by a vote of 90-10. The fact that our chambers are turning a blind eye to laws they created and giving the Executive Branch absolute control over military operations sets very bad precedent.
But the issues extend beyond our involvement in Libya. In a deal negotiated by Democratic and Republican leaders, the unconstitutional Patriot Act is virtually ensured a four-year renewal. The Patriot Act gives the government unprecedented power to circumvent the Bill of Rights. It includes provisions which allow for warantless searches, wiretaps, government access to personal library records, and confiscation of any "tangible item" deemed suspicious. Not only does the Patriot Act allow covert subjugation of "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" (Fourth Amendment), but it is perpetually being renewed by overwhelming margins, sometimes via backroom deals like in the recent negotiations.
Congress is wrongly giving away the rights of the American people, whose civil liberties should not be trampled by measures to fight terrorism. But our so-called leaders do not stop there, also wrongly relinquishing their own rights to manage declarations of war. This institution has grown dormant, complicit in a national erosion of freedoms. It's time for it to wake up, so that Democrats and Republicans alike can stand behind constitutionally enshrined justice. Where's the grassroots movement to protect the most sacred tenets of our democracy? I haven't encountered it, certainly not in the mainstream media. And if anything does, these abuses of power call out for change.