In one week the political run up to the presidential election will begin in earnest with the first primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. They will finally provide us with a peek at what real Americans are actually thinking. Most of us are already exhausted from the furor leading up to this big day. It’s difficult to imagine that it will only become worse as we move slowly but surely toward November and the final resolution of who will next serve as our nation’s president.
Much has been said and written by the various players in this incredibly important contest. After all of the money has been spent and the arguments have been presented it will be up to the common man and woman to cast ballots. Voting for the President of the United States or for any other office is a moment that we must never take lightly. Our choice will determine who becomes one of the most powerful people on earth. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to use the most rational aspects of our abilities to think critically rather than emotionally. We need to remember that, in truth, a great president is one who is not beholden to a particular group but one who always considers the needs of all citizens.
It occurred to me that we get so caught up in the media blitz regarding the candidates that we all too often focus more on personalities and causes than on a consideration of who might best fulfill the duties of the President of the United States as outlined in the Constitution. This morning I took time for a little review session of the words of our Founding Fathers to remind myself of their intent regarding the chief of the Executive Branch of government.
According to Article 2, Section 2 the president is our country’s most important diplomat. “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. . .” Article 2, Section 3 further outlines the duties as follows, “. . .he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers. . .”
The largest role of the president lies in administrative duties. Article 1, Section 2 tells us, “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Since the early days of our country when George Washington was our first president the number of agencies and departments has grown to be almost out of control. It is virtually impossible for the president to be intimately familiar with the everyday workings of each and every bureaucracy so he/she usually depends upon the expertise and integrity of trusted advisors and appointees to manage the daily inner workings. Still, the president must understand the function and purpose of each of the many layers of administration.
It is up to the president to carefully consider all bills passed by Congress and to determine whether or not to support them. Article 1, Section 7 states, “Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law.” While the president’s function doesn’t include creating laws it is clear that the writers of the Constitution intended that our chief executive have the responsibility of making suggestions. Article 2, Section 3 outlines the methodology for doing so as, “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient”
Perhaps the president’s most important job is to be the official guardian of the Constitution as noted in Article 2, Section 3, “. . .he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed . . .”
It would be wise for all of us to review the dictates of the Constitution as we consider who shall receive our final vote. As we judge the ability of each candidate to carry out these enormous duties we should be asking ourselves who seems most capable of working with all of the moving parts of the office while still adhering to the intent of the laws of our land. Just liking someone’s style or rhetoric is not enough to insure that we get the best person for the job. Bluster and emotional bullying don’t really appear to be needed qualities. It seems clear to me that our Founding Fathers intended the members of each branch of government to guard against one or the other from subverting either the separation of powers or the willingness to work together for the good of the people.
As we go to primaries this spring our own duties are clear. We are to choose the people who will represent our two parties, not based on a single issue or our own selfish needs but upon the likelihood that he or she will be able to execute the duties of the President of the United States with honor and integrity, just as our first president, George Washington, did. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us not to argue with our neighbors or hurl insults but to read and research until we are totally familiar with each of the candidates so that we might weigh their strengths and weaknesses. We need to decide if their bluster is believable or if it will only further divide our country. We need to know that we are choosing someone that we can implicitly trust with the care of our nation.
The American voter has perhaps the most difficult job of all. It is not something to be taken lightly. We each have personal philosophies and beliefs just as the candidates do. We have to look past the media and the political tricks. It is up to each of us to read from many different sources and points of view to insure that we know as much about each person as possible before we give someone our nod. The hardest part is setting our own foibles and prejudices aside and reflectively considering each candidate’s stance with an eye to noting whether or not that person is capable of carrying out the duties as described in the Constitution.
There are some who believe that we the people can be easily manipulated to vote with only our hearts and not our heads. I’d like to think that we are better than that. We’ve made some mistakes in the past but somehow our country has flourished in spite of predictions that our great democratic experiment would never last and that we would soon be running back to our European roots, begging for help. We don’t have to make America great again, it already is. What we do have to do is make sure that we keep it that way by protecting our democracy and our government and even the people with whom we disagree.