Tuesday, September 02, 2008

President or savior?

I often write about understanding the role of our various governments (federal, state, local) and about the job descriptions of the people we elect to oversee those governments.

So often these days, people look first to government to 'solve' any and all problems or perceived problems. We also blame government whenever anything bad happens in our lives. After all, if government can solve all our problems and yet we still have problems, it must - obviously - be the government's fault.

Even today, as we look at the presidential campaign, we have candidates who are promising to solve all our problems and all it takes to do so is to elect them. Nothing could be further from the truth, but campaigns are not about truth so much as they are about persuasion.

I came across this article, "A President, Not a Savior:"

"What moved Barack Obama to seek the presidency was "the basic idea of empathy" and the notion that if "we see somebody down and out ... we care for them." Republican John McCain explained that he was running "to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest."

Noble sentiments, to be sure, but in the original constitutional scheme, the president was neither Empath-in-Chief nor a national life coach. His role was to faithfully execute the laws, defend the country from attack, and check Congress with the veto power whenever it exceeded its constitutional bounds."

It explains our unconstitutional expectations of the office holder - which also explains why the candidates are making unconstitutional promises.

My question, though, is this: if we know the nation's expectations of this office holder are unconstitutional, what do we do about it?


Tim Higgins said...


We know of common sense that we need to return to the goals and limits set by out Founding Fathers to promote individual rights and responsibilities. This should be followed by the responsibilities of the local, state, and finally federal government.

Our compassion however, sees all who may stumble and fall if the government crutch is pulled out from under them. I'm not sure if it's guilt over the dependents that we have created or the dependence that we have created.

Regardless, it seems as though we lack the political will to step back from the precipice that the nanny state is fast bringing us to.

Carol said...

To elect a President that would follow the Constitution to the letter would mean that we, as a people, would have to take responsibility for our actions.

We all know that that is not a popular idea. We have created generation upon generation of grossly dependent people that have no skills to survive without the teat of the government.

I do believe that we are a compassionate people, but we are not able to wean from all the "support" that government has seen as a cure all.

It's unfortunate, but I don't think that the American people, as a whole, are self sufficient enough to make it on their own.

Kadim said...


I spent a lot of time thinking about this post.

Last week's Economist had a book review from a conservative author who delved deeper into some of these thoughts...

“Citizens”, he remarks with justice, “yearn for a restoration of a mythical Old Republic. Yet one might as well hope for the revival of the family farm or for physicians to resume making house calls.” Beginning with the election of John Kennedy, he writes, “the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure, and, inevitably, the betrayer of inflated hopes.”

People complain of what Arthur Schlesinger called “the imperial presidency”. But this, snorts Mr Bacevich, is “mere posturing”. For members of the political class, serving, gaining access to, reporting on, second-guessing or gossiping about the emperor-president (or about those aspiring to succeed him) has become an abiding preoccupation.

He is an acidulous critic of the incumbent administration and its military servants. Yet he does not comfort himself with the idea that the election of a new president would easily change things for the better. “No doubt the race for the presidency matters. It just doesn’t matter as much as the media’s obsessive coverage suggests.”
(emphasis mine)

It sounds like it'll be a fascinating book.

Alas, all my thinking, and I haven't come up with a response to your question yet.

But, I'm running for a office, so if you haven't contributed any money this year to a campaign for your Ohio income tax credit, do let me know. :-)

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