The Rule of Law Should Be Obama's Top Priority

01/11/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

Is straightening out the state of the economy an urgent priority for Barack Obama when he steps into office? Of course!! The financial markets are in turmoil. The Big Three are on the ropes. People have lost a tremendous amount of money from their savings and nearly everyone is concerned for their jobs.

Global warming has not been addressed at all in the past eight years. And if the experts are right, if we don't address this we might not have to worry about any of the other issues. Saving the earth from a climate catastrophe seems like a pretty high priority.

Iraq has been a mess for five years now and our troops continue to die every single day there for a war we should have never started. Afghanistan is spiraling out of control as the Taliban regains control in some areas of the country.

Then there is healthcare, the ballooning budget and countless other urgent priorities. But despite all this, my top priority for the Obama administration is the Constitution and rule of law.

The Bush administration systemically shredded the rule of law wherever they found it. The fourth amendment says you need warrant before listening in on Americans' communications? So what, ignore it. We signed the Geneva Conventions that prohibit torture like waterboarding? So what, ignore it. There are no laws that restrict private contractors in Iraq from doing anything they like to Iraqi civilians? So what, let them loose. There are no regulations that would prohibit financial companies from taking enormous risks that can crash the whole economy? So what, let them loose.

Every step of the way, the Bush administration created a lawless atmosphere where they put themselves and usually their corporate friends above the law. This, more than anything else, undermines what this country is all about. It also causes a lot of the other problems that we face today. There were no rules or regulations in the financial markets to check out of control risk taking, so people responded to the incentives that were in place and took a lot of risk. Then, just as you would expect, when that risk came crashing down on their heads, they turned around and put it in our lap.

The beginning point for fixing all our problems is to restore the United States Constitution, legal system and rules and regulations. They were there for a reason. They are what made us American. Let's put these rules back in place before we do anything else and we'll be half way home. If he does just this, he will already be an infinitely better president than George W. Bush. Give us America back and we can handle the rest.