“As President, I would….” “If I were elected President, I promise you…”
When you ask children these questions, you get a lot of silly answers, like, “No school”, “free ice-cream Wednesdays”, “Every family must have one dog, one cat, one fish, one horse….”, and many other equally bizarre answers. They are naive, of course, but we don’t expect the children to understand our complex and multi-layered government. Mostly, we are interested in hearing what the child values most.
When we ask actual Presidential candidates this question, you get all kinds of things, but what is surprising if how often those promises mirror children: They aren’t really answering the question for what they would do as President, but more what they would do as Kings (or Queens), or Autocratic rulers.
Children’s answer make much more sense if you asked them what they would do as King (you know, before the Magna Carta and all) because Kings have unlimited powers to enact legislation, execute, and interpret those laws as they see fit. We don’t want children to tell us what they would do as President because the actual President doesn’t have Legislative Powers, nor Judicial Powers.
So, why then do Presidential candidates seem to mirror children in their campaigns? Specifically, why are they campaigning as if they have Legislative Powers? Even the pretense that the President doesn’t make Legislation, but sets “major” bills or the general “atmosphere” is in direct violation of the foundation of our Democratic-Republic. The whole point of Congressmen, a President, and a Supreme Court is that the powers are separate, and in contention with one another. They can check and balance one another. When a President has the expectation that they must “preside over Congress” or veto bills based on Legislative reasons, they become Popular Tyrants. This isn’t good.
I know I have posted about this topic before, but before it was much too philosophically/Constitutionally dense. I found an analogue for what is wrong with Presidential candidates which I think really illustrates the problem very clearly.
Don’t let Presidential candidates make Legislative/Judicial promises. Yes, Presidents have a lot of influence, and many people have come to rely on the President to “get things done”, because Congress can’t given their deep divide and literally constant fillibustering, and the Supreme Court is reactionary (only when cases come to them can they make a judgement). Yet, this desire to rely on the President’s influence makes him a Popular Tyrant.
Maybe people like that, they like that they can point to a single person and know what they will “get”, or whose fault it is when they don’t get what they want, or when things go bad. Its easy, and quickly shuts down most calls for nuance. But it isn’t how our government works, and it really, really isn’t how our government should work.
Demand our President’s candidates campaign on actual Presidential matters. Stop letting President’s rule as Tyrants.
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