That’s the date Barack Obama is scheduled to hand over the keys to the White House to his successor.
This, it seems, is an important reminder for many, including lawmakers in Alabama -- state Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur -- and some 30 other states who are proposing major constitutional revisions. Truth be told, it’s useful information for many of these lawmakers’ supporters who spend a significant portion of each day fretting about the actions and plans of our 44th president’s administration.
Partisans typically fret when the guy in the White House is from the other party. However, there’s a bottom line that ought to pacify the non-stop chorus of opposition to the current chief executive: President Obama will become former President Obama in less than three years. My prediction (and it’s a safe bet) is that by that date in 2017 the United States will not have transformed into an Islamic caliphate, a fascist dictatorship, a socialist-styled workers’ paradise or whatever conspiracy is making the rounds this week.
Before attempting to radically alter our system of government, perhaps our would-be constitutional revisionists should recall the simple fact that our nation has a long history of peaceful transfers of power, a fact we often take for granted until reminded of violence in the Central African Republic, the Ukraine and South Sudan, to cite three examples from this month.
On Jan. 20, 2017, we’ll have a new president. It’s too far off to wager very much on who the 45th president will be or even which party he or she will represent, but we can be sure that after that date we won’t have Barack Obama to kick around anymore. Who knows, over time he may even take on elder-statesman status and become a figure tolerable to a bipartisan consensus of the nation, something that usually happens once a chief executive leaves office.
The aims of supporters behind a revised U.S. Constitution usually don’t mention Obama specifically when pressing their case, yet the president’s shadow seems to loom over the effort. “The federal government is spending this country into the ground, seizing power from the states and taking liberty from the people,” claim the activists behind the Convention of States Project, a proponent of the revision process.
The effort seems designed to take the United States back to a 19th-century version of the country with weakened to nonexistent federal policies to protect food, medicines, water, workers’ rights, the right to a quality education and families that hit on hard financial times.
A “Constitution in Exile” federal courts-focused movement that would eliminate much of the progress the nation made in the 20th century pre-dates the Obama administration. However, a first and then a second presidential term for Obama intensified this drive to wipe away the progressive era. We are at the point where state legislators are setting the stage for a major rewrite of the Constitution.
The beauty of our Constitution is that it’s difficult to amend. The founders didn’t want the whims of the times or opposition to a particular chief executive to drive the process. Perhaps the activists and Republican lawmakers clamoring to radically alter the U.S. Constitution should hold off until after Jan. 20, 2017.
Bob Davis is associate publisher/editor of The Anniston Star. Contact him at 256-235-3540 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: EditorBobDavis.