Despite his fondness for executive actions in the White House, President Obama recently said he was worried about the American people becoming "impatient with the slowness of democracy."
"I have not changed Washington the way I wanted to change it," Obama said in an interview last week with VICE. "And what I worry about in our politics is people getting impatient with the slowness of democracy, and the less effective Congress works, the more likely people are to start giving up on the core values and basic institutions that have helped us to weather a lot of storms."
Obama made the remarks a month after Donald Trump won the White House.
Obama did not have such patience in 2014, when he declared multiple times, "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone," suggesting he could use the pen to sign executive orders and use his phone to rally people to his cause when Congress did not act to his liking.
"We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help that they need," he said on January 14, 2014. "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone."
Obama also gave numerous speeches explaining where he could act "on my own," without Congress. At his State of the Union address on January 28, 2014, Obama told the legislative branch directly that he would happily act without them when he could.
"But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class," he said. "Some require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
Congressional Democrats responded with a standing ovation.