While we look to the 2016 presidential election with a combination of trepidation and hope, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Barack Obama will be with us for another year. Throughout his presidency, Obama has made his distaste for firearms clear—this is a man who, earlier in his career, reportedly said outright that he didn’t think people should be allowed to own them. But he has spent what political capital he could muster on other causes, failing to generate much support for gun control in Congress.
The frightening thing is that as Obama nears the end of his second term, he appears more willing—even eager—to impose his agenda by executive fiat, the will of the people be damned. As Democrats in Congress lost ground during the midterm elections in 2014, aides and associates noted that the president appeared to be in higher spirits: No longer would he have to fret about building a consensus. “He gained some clarity for the next two years that is liberating,” said former press secretary Jay Carney. “He doesn’t have as much responsibility for others.” The same article described Obama as newly “… more comfortable with his executive powers …”The frightening thing is that as Obama nears the end of his second term, he appears more willing—even eager—to impose his agenda by executive fiat, the will of the people be damned.
All of this indicates that during his last year in office, Barack Obama will be flying solo, with no fears of being held accountable for his actions. He has become increasingly aggressive on the subject of gun control, appealing directly to the American people with an air of demagoguery. In October, shortly after Hillary Clinton brought up the possibility of implementing stricter gun regulations by means of an executive order, Obama’s staff drew up a plan for him to beat her to the punch. Disillusioned by his failure to sway voters or elected politicians, he is circling around the conclusion that the only word needed on the issue is his. In his notorious words from early 2014, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”
And in case you suspected that he might be losing his motivation, just last week Barack Obama made clear his intention to elevate gun control to the top of his agenda in his final year. “There’s no doubt that the longer I’m in this job, the more confident I am about the decisions I’m making and more knowledgeable about the responses I can expect,” he told HBO. “And as a consequence, you end up being looser.”
In the same interview, Obama claimed to be interested in a post-presidential career not in politics, but in the NBA. All of the signs are really piling up, aren’t they? At the end of his term, the president has the option—and apparently the inclination—to burn every bridge that it takes to get his way. The bitter, irascible tone of an increasingly isolated lame duck is about to give way to the cool flippancy of a man who doesn’t care about justifying his decisions to anyone, the closest thing to a dictator our nation has seen for a long time. At the end of the day, if guns are more difficult for law-abiding Americans to own and he’s got part ownership of the Bulls, he’ll be happy.