Dems Should Embrace Russ Feingold
Do the Republicans really want the next Democratic President to have as much unchecked power as Bush? Sen. Russ Feingold wrote the following for TomPaine.com:
As many Republicans focus on defending the President, they are losing sight of what ceding these powers to the President now will mean for their own party down the road. Those expansive powers will rest with whoever sits in the Oval Office. Republicans who argue today that the President has the power to ignore a law passed by Congress are relinquishing authority not just to this Republican President, but to future presidents of any party. They are helping to render future members of their own party powerless to check an executive who claims expansive powers under the Constitution or a future Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution.
The Republican effort to defend the President works against the party in the long run, and it also goes against the party's longstanding rhetoric about checking government power and strengthening individual freedoms. It's hardly in keeping with those values to allow Americans' communications to be monitored without a warrant, or to concentrate power in one branch of government. One of the best ways to limit government power is to ensure that each branch provides a check on the other two, but most Republicans in Congress today aren't checking the President's power or defending the judicial branch's right to do so - they are giving him a blank check to ignore the rule of law.
A party that prides itself on limiting government, and supporting individual freedom and the rule of law, should think twice before it allows any President to ignore the laws that Congress passes. By supporting the President now, Republicans are making it tougher for members of their own party to challenge the power of future presidents and departing from their own values in the process. That's a short-sighted strategy that won't serve either party, or the nation, in the long run. What would serve the nation, and support the rule of law, is for a few courageous Republicans to follow the example set during the Watergate scandal by standing up to a President of their own party, asking tough questions, and holding the President accountable for his abuse of power.