This election year, or years, has brought out the best and worst in the candidates. But this is an important process. Each of the candidates, skilled and experienced in the ways of government, are trying to articulate their merits in light of being the President of the United States of America. At this late date, and before all nominations are cast, we should examine the job of the President. And which candidate merits our favor?
Some responsibilities are given. Most educated people understand this. But each of the candidates take a different tact, based on differing values. These values are based on something – and it is this something that we are looking for and the candidates are trying to articulate. The big questions are: How is our military to be used in a very dangerous world? What is the role of centralized government in individual health care? Is it the role of a central federal government or the role of individual States to maintain infrastructure? How are we to view the separation of science and faith? What about Global Warming? There are many questions – and the powers granted by the constitution are considerate of these questions.
We must understand that the President is not the Chief Justice, or the Pope. The President is not a King or a Queen, not a dictator and not supposed to be tyrannical. The President is often the leader of a political party – but he is first the leader of all Americans. They sometimes forget this quality.
So let’s examine the specifics – then talk about the general.
First – what is the oath that the President takes to assume office:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
We live in a world today that is not in agreement about exactly what this oath means. That is to say, what is a proper protection and defense of the Constitution? The populace is not in agreement about the interpretation of the document. But that is OK because, when in doubt, the Judicial Branch will decide. Pretty cool idea.
There are other duties, some think specific, of the President – quoting from the Constitution:
“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
“He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”
The Constitution is clear about specifics – the constitution is clear that the President must report to the Congress, and the constitution is clear that the President is accountable to the laws of the land. But even these seemingly obvious points are argued in the interest of Executive Privilege. This suggests to me that one quality of a President is basic humility, a fundamental lack of personal pride, the ability to humble self before the Congress and the Judiciary.
And then there is the intrinsic question of leadership. Which candidate has the capacity to unite the populace in common endeavors? Lincoln led us trough a time of civil war. Teddy Roosevelt united the country on several fronts, not least of which is the National Park Service. Franklin Roosevelt united the country during a time of depression and guided a united country through a world war. Kennedy propelled us into space exploration. Reagan took down that wall.
Each of these great Presidents had a common quality. Each was a terrific orator, each had a commanding personality, each understood vision, and each understood the need to bring the people together in a united effort.
So we have defined some duties and we have asked some questions about important issues. We are getting down to the fundamental question.
Which of the candidates running for President of the United State can unite this great country, can bring the people together toward a common end, can bring us together to answer the most important questions ever facing the human population?