When the American people headed to the voting booth on Nov. 2, 2010, they thought they were putting an end to President Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America. They were wrong.
In the face of an unprecedented wave of public discontent expressed at the ballot box and throughout his time in office, Obama has remained committed to an extreme left-wing agenda.
If the separation of powers described by the U.S. Constitution remained intact, Obama's disrespect for the American voters wouldn't matter -- he would be unable to move the country further left because he would be unable to pass his agenda through the Republican House.
Unfortunately, for decades, Congress has been delegating away its legislative power to bureaucratic agencies that Obama is now using to bypass Congress and the American people to pursue his agenda.
Obama's fundamental transformation agenda -- which proceeds apace despite the Republican control of the House of Representatives -- would turn America into a very different country.
It would be a country where the federal government has vastly more control over our jobs, businesses and families; judgments of individuals are supplanted by the judgments of Washington politicians and regulators; life-and-death decisions of health care are taken away from patients and doctors and given to regulators; every aspect of our financial lives is managed by regulators; our energy supply is tightly controlled and regulated; government regulators control the Internet; and regulators are positioned to nudge away from our own freely made decisions and into the paths they choose.
The message from Obama and his administration in the aftermath of last year's election was clear: We will accomplish our policy objectives at any cost, and by any means.
Ironically, Obama campaigned against President George W. Bush's executive excesses, promising a return to a constitutionally limited executive branch. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, all of the elements of excessive executive power that the Left feared from Bush have continued -- or worsened -- under Obama. He has used the financial crisis as an excuse to seize control -- without Congress' approval -- of the energy supply, industrial activities, the Internet and labor policy.
Some of the loudest voices opposing Bush's use of executive power are now cheering for Obama to push things much further. It's different when it's your guy in charge.
Robert Higgs wrote the seminal work -- "Crisis and Liberty: The Expansion of Government Power in American History" -- on how crises drive permanent increases in the size and intrusiveness of government, substituting centralized control for individual economic freedom. He observed that regulatory action is the likely outcome.
A central thrust of the Obama presidency has been to seize on the financial crisis as justification for vastly more intrusive federal regulation of many aspects of American economic life.
The administration has done so openly, starting with this explanation from Rahm Emanuel, who infamously explained, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
One of the mysteries Higgs addresses is the question of why, following periods of crisis (usually a war or an economic depression), government never returns to its pre-crisis levels. One of the likeliest explanations is that most Americans simply do not know what the costs are of expanded regulatory power.
Our challenge, then, is as simple -- and as difficult -- as exposing the astonishing costs of Obama's command-and-control regulatory policies. If we expose them to the public and bring them to bear as election issues, the American public will reject them as intolerable.
The cycle of ratcheting up federal power during a crisis is a common one throughout American history. It is a cycle we must break.
Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and author of "Democracy Denied: How Obama Is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America -- and How to Stop Him." It is available at DemocracyDenied.org