On Electing A President (And Other Election Day 2012 Thoughts)

Today is the first Tuesday in November, and that means we’re voting here in the U. S. of A.!

(But, if you’re alive, you are probably aware of that.)

And, every four years we get a little more excited because we are voting for the President! That’s big stuff!

While I will admit that it is, in a way, “big stuff”, I keep feeling like, it shouldn’t be.

Voting is definitely something we should be glad that we are able to do. We have a full voice in so many different races for so many different government positions (and various proposals, as well). That is not something we should dismiss, nor forsake.

But I keep thinking that the whole President thing gets so blown out of proportion. We treat our president as somewhat of a “king”. (Although, we are glad he’s only “king” for four years at a time, and for a maximum of eight years… except for FDR.) We presume and grant authorities to the Executive Branch that were not intended for one person to have. (There’s just something in us that longs for a king…)

It’s been going on for a while. And not just one party’s man. Executive orders, “czars”, budget proposals, laws, etc.

(Note: George W Bush and Ronald Reagan had such “officers” in abundance as much as Barack Obama, who is oft-criticized for his “czars”. From what I can tell, referencing posts appointed by the Executive as “Czars” goes as far back as Woodrow Wilson.)

These are not things the President/Executive is meant to be doing.

The Congress shall make the laws… The President will be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and has the power to convene and adjourn sessions of congress, and even make treaties, if two thirds of the Senators approve. And, well… I’m just going to quote it:

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.

So, here’s the thing. When the first thirteen states decided to form the union we were all born into, they really didn’t want a king. They put nearly ALL of the power for everything in the hands of (1) the states, (2) the two branches of congress of those states, with equal and population-based representation, and (3) they checked that power with a very limited Executive officer (President), and a judiciary branch. But the true power was in the State and Local governments. (NOT in the Federal government.)

And really, that is what we have lost, and why we put SO much emphasis on this quadrennial election of one man (or woman).

They used to refer to our country in the plural, “The United States are …”, but of course, we have been ever-increasingly a large, amorphous single entity, “The United States is…”

And so, we spend millions of dollars, listen to endless debates, go through nearly two years of campaigning … for the one office of temporary king.


The REALLY fascinating thing is, we still do the electoral college! Seriously? 🙂

For some reason, though we think “is” rather than “are” regarding our nation, we still rely on the Electors from each state to grant all of the votes from that state to one candidate (in theory) of their choosing. I don’t know (and am not going to look it up right now) if an Elector or a state has ever gone against the popular vote in that state since we have had popular votes, but… well, I guess they could?

Did you know there were Presidents elected who were not voted on by all the people? That was another indication in the Constitution of the limited role the President would play.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves.

And then, if there was a tie, the House of Representatives would vote to choose the President, with the second person on that vote being elected as the Vice President, with a tie there being broken by a vote by the Senate.

Again… fascinating.

In a republican government (please note the small “r”), the emphasis was on the representation in smaller units. First in a local community, choosing a representative in their state government, and then those representatives choosing some from among them to represent their state in congress with the other states of the union. Thus, in theory, you are actually represented. (With a lesser emphasis placed on the representation the further away from you it got.)

Somehow today (over many generations) we have slid into more of a view that the further away representative is the more important choice. I think there is some correlation between our love for big box stores and franchised/chain restaurants, but… I’m too tired to flesh that out. 🙂

I will vote today as soon as we can get to the polls. I look forward to it. I like voting for the people we know in our small town. I like voting for people who have similar views of government to mine.

I just like voting. I’m glad that we can.

And I hope you will. And encourage everyone you know to vote, too. (If they don’t know who to vote for, don’t just tell them who to vote for! Give them a quick overview of the options, and what they stand for. As unbiased as possible?) 🙂

Get out today and vote. It may not be a perfect system (or what the writers of the Constitution envisioned) but it’s still likely the best in the world, and we’re privileged to be part of it.

(And if you don’t like the results, then hit the campaign trails earlier next time! Either for your preferred candidate/representative, or YOU could be the representative! You never know …)