Most of the time I don't really care who the American president is, and neither should you. It's always been an important job, but its occupant was never meant to be Captain America or Leader Of The Free World.
Our president is not supposed to create new policies except in an emergency; the task of setting the national agenda belongs to Congress. Presidential power was originally restricted to running the government and serving as Commander-in-Chief during times of war.
Our first president, rest his soul, didn't enjoy his time in office and is probably appalled at how the American people have turned the presidency into a personality-driven media show. George Washington rejected the hero worship shown to him during his days as a living legend, and he warned of the danger that comes from giving too much power and having too much faith in any one person.
And that's what we've done. We've surrendered power in a creeping process that started early and has grown steadily over the 24 decades that Americans have been governing themselves. We turned the president into America's CEO, which hasn't worked out very well for anybody lately – except for the ultra-rich, but things usually turn out well for those folks even when everyone else suffers.
The president needs to be a skilled manager of people, someone who can steer a clear path through the inevitable bureaucracy that governments create. A president must make military decisions, so the ability to consult with experts and make the right call is a crucial skill.
As our representative to the world, the president's conduct also serves as a role model for all Americans. Your statements need to match your behavior when you represent a nation.
That's about as far as the job description goes. But today, the White House occupant is expected to be all things to all people. That's not possible, and our unreal expectations might be the biggest flaw in modern politics. The Senate is weak because we elect politicians instead of visionaries; the House is in chaos because we elect partisans instead of representatives.
We are the real problem. We vote poorly, we vote seldom or we don't bother to vote at all. When we do vote, we choose people for their personalities instead of their abilities. As a consequence, we get exactly what we deserve...
Popular posts from this blog
"Fake News" has become a popular phrase these days. Our president certainly likes to use it, often paired with another common phrase – "mainstream media". Both are convenient but meaningless labels that misrepresent the business of publishing the news in America. The general contempt that a lot of folks have for news media is certainly nothing new. A century ago, newspapers often engaged in what was called 'yellow journalism' and reporters were held in such low esteem that they were referred to as 'ink-stained wretches'. Newspaper publisher William Hearst was the poster boy of Fake News in those days. Hearst and his editors frequently printed misleading or entirely dishonest stories that promoted Hearst's personal views or demonized people he was at odds with. That's completely different from advocacy journalism, which most news sources practice. Some even acknowledge that reality. I was once the editor of the Haleakala Times, a bi-weekly newsp…
By the time you read this, the total debt of the federal government may have reached 20 trillion dollars. Add in all of the estimated state and local government debts and America owes somebody nearly $25 trillion. But that's not enough; Congress is coming back into session in September and will probably raise its self-imposed debt limit in order to borrow some more. They always have before. There's no question who gets the bill for the interest on that debt every year: we all do. Who's paying down that debt? Nobody at all. No president or Congress has lowered the national debt for more than half a century... The cost of nearly 17 years of American military operations in Afghanistan is hard to calculate, but it's more than one trillion dollars. That amount will keep growing every day, because there's no real change coming in our overseas commitments. There's plenty of room to argue over what we're doing in a land long known as the Graveyard of Empires – maybe w…