The Constitution of the United State of America vests the power of Commander in Chief with the Executive – The President. This feels clear to this writer that the intent was for a citizen, elected by the people, to act as Commander of the military. There was purpose in this intent.
Here is a quote from Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United State, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; ….
The writers of the constitution understood that a ‘committee’ would be ineffective in managing the military – the obvious choice of command was a single person, a focal point, the President. But here is the caveat for this writer – the President is elected by the people with no qualifications about military experience or expertise. The President is a citizen, representing the citizen class, a champion of democracy and of the Constitution.
Indeed, one of the great enduring qualities of American government is the non-violent transition of power. The purpose of the military is singularly violent.
The brilliance of our founding fathers is again evident. History taught them that a professional standing army is dangerous to civil discourse. The intentional subordination of the military to an elected citizen was designed to protect our democracy from misuse of military power.
Former Generals have been elected President – and each of them has subordinated their role as General to that of citizen. Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower carefully constructed their Presidencies in the mold of the citizenry. Eisenhower went so far as to warn against the “military industrial complex.’
The Constitution has not changed – but the interpretation by politicians would suggest otherwise. John Kerry ran for President in 2004, highlighting his credentials as a veteran of a foreign war. John McCain exhausts his audiences with continuous references to his being a veteran POW. But these qualities were not defined by the Constitution either in language or intent. It is very clear that the writers of the Constitution intended a Commander in Chief with a Citizen perspective.
The founders of this great nation knew the dangers of a standing military They understood the need for a properly elected citizen to manage that military. They understood the issues as being one of using sound judgment in calling upon the military – the military was only to be used to promote or protect the Constitution and the citizen class.
The 21st Century has seen the military raised to the rank of first choice rather than last choice. Let us be clear – when we say the use of the military we are saying the use of violence. This is a tremendously important understanding. Violence should always be the absolute last resort, whether raising children, being a spouse, negotiating trade agreements, or promoting democracy.
The Citizen Commander in Chief shall use restraint first, rather than violence first.