I commend Sen. Roger Wicker for both his support of border security and his support of the Constitution. He has worked tirelessly to secure border security funds by congressional vote, but he properly recognizes that, under our Constitution, the people’s money can be spent only by the vote of the people’s representatives.
I share the frustration felt by many Mississippians that the border is unsecured. The contrast with the prior administration is telling: President Obama was elected on a promise to socialize medicine, and his supporters bent the budget rules to make sure that we would keep spending that money as long as the economy can produce it. President Trump was elected on a promise of funding a single project to provide the border security that has been neglected ever since President Reagan left office, but those same legislators have frustrated the fulfillment of that promise at every turn. I can fully understand why some see an emergency that requires circumvention of the Constitution.
At the heart of the Constitution, however, is the understanding that it should be hard, not easy, to spend the people’s money or to do anything else in their name. The Framers of the Constitution well knew that their first president would be the man who could not tell a lie, but they did not authorize George Washington to spend one penny without the approval of Congress. Even kings had long required the approval of their subjects to raise funds, and the people who won the revolution had no intention of creating a president stronger than the king they had just defeated.
Donald Trump is exactly like George Washington. Each man was entrusted by the American people with the responsibility to protect them and their Constitution. The availability of more money than Congress has been willing to provide would help to protect the American people from threats at the border, but it would undermine the security against arbitrary action that the Constitution has always provided.
Whenever the current administration may end, the next president will be neither Donald Trump nor George Washington. Most of those presently running for president have already proclaimed their support for the Green New Deal, which seeks to eliminate cars and cows. If they can fund that effort without the consent of Congress by a simple declaration of emergency, they will not hesitate to do so.
Any law that permits any president to spend the people’s money without the consent of the people’s representatives is a bad law. Sen. Wicker and many of his colleagues have begun the necessary effort to change that law so that no president will ever again be able to dip into our pockets by declaring an emergency. That effort deserves the support of all Americans.
The Constitution does not guarantee good government, but it makes it possible. The only way we can build security at the border or anywhere else is by the consistent support of the American people. One election does not change everything, and, if it did, another election could change everything again. Sen. Wicker, through many elections, has won the people’s support for sound constitutional government. We should support him as he continues that effort in the days ahead.
Michael Wallace is a Northsider.