As outlined in posts here and here, the electoral system of Article II was designed to produce presidents of the caliber of George Washington and not that of Barack Obama and possibly Hillary Clinton. The Framers strove to make the president’s fidelity to the Constitution coincident with his personal interest: enduring fame. The men to become the Framers’ president had already made their mark in their professions, communities and states. All that remained was to earn the respect and admiration of the entire nation and . . . history.
The Framers’ president was above faction. Not only did he not owe his job directly to a congress, state governors, or the people, he didn’t even know the names of the electors who put him in office! Upon taking the presidential oath, he owed zero political debts and could faithfully “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” With this in mind, how would the conduct and administration of government by the Framers’ president differ from modern presidents?
First, the Framers’ president didn’t campaign for election in the modern sense. Since no faction put him into office, there’s no reason to travel the country and make promises in exchange for votes and money. The Framers’ president would not contend with, on a daily basis, the opposing and irreconcilable pulls of loyalty to both his political party and the Constitution.
The tone, the general feeling of the administration under the Framers’ president would be on a much higher plane. Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electoral process “affords a moral certainty that the office of the president will never be held by any man who is not eminently endowed with the requisite qualifications . . . (and) that the station will probably be filled by men pre-eminent for their ability and virtue.” Since all organizations take on the attributes of their leaders, and a noble, if not natural aristocratic president was the Framers’ intent, the president’s appointive offices would be filled with talent, and not with factional partisans.
The people themselves also take on in sympathy the nature and morality of their government. Public men are the patterns of the private. Whatever the virtues and vices of the governors quickly becomes the virtues and vices of the governed. This effect, that the character of the president permeates the nation is seen in the recent WikiLeaks release of Democratic National Committee emails. The DNC, in simpatico with president Obama, assisted the Black Lives Matter movement and riots at Trump rallies. Police officers were murdered by BLM adherents inflamed with hate spurred on by the president.
Second, the Framers’ president was accountable. Unlike the King of England and eleven of the thirteen state governors in 1787, the president could not blame an executive council for executive branch missteps or mistakes. The president’s sole accountability for the executive branch promoted honesty and morality. While men of honor naturally avoid the remote possibility of impeachment or censure, the accountability of sole proprietorship in the executive power encourages conduct consistent with the Constitution.
In our corrupted system, president Obama and his secretaries are held blameless. The administration lies that it learns of its own misdeeds or crimes from newspapers. Low-level underlings were blamed yet went unpunished for the IRS abuse of hundreds of conservative non-profit groups. Obama knew that Hillary communicated the nation’s most closely held secrets on an unsecure server, yet was not called to account.
Third, the Framers were less fearful of presidents reelected time and time again than they were of men limited to one or a number of terms of office. After all, what is there to fear from a man with a record of serving his Constitutional duty? Hamilton wrote that it is a general principle of human nature that a man is interested in whatever he possesses in proportion to the firmness or precariousness of the tenure by which he holds it. With unlimited reelection, the Framers’ president was encouraged to educate and lead the nation in furtherance of his policies; he didn’t respond to every sudden breeze of passion aroused within the people by clever men who flatter the community’s prejudices to betray their true interests. The strong and uncorrupted president was confident enough in his judgement to submit the record of his performance every four years. If reelected, he knew he was on the right course and could confidently continue. He would keep his trusted and proven advisers and secretaries. The law would reflect a comforting consistency rather than mutability in execution.
On the other hand, Hamilton thought that a Framers’ president limited to a certain number of terms would be apt to have little interest in undertaking extensive and arduous enterprises in his last term. The most to be expected of noble men in such a situation is the negative merit of doing no harm, instead of the positive merit of doing good.
As opposed to the Framers’ ideal, what we regard today as “lame duck” presidents can be the most dangerous. Without pretense of any duty to the Constitution or even appeal to popular reelection, a modern second term president is practically free from all restraint and can impose the worst regulations and DOJ inspired court orders imaginable on an innocent people.
Fourth, the Framers’ president, being above faction and dedicated to the Constitution, would abhor the nomination of bug-eyed progressives and social justice warriors to the federal courts.
Fifth, when factional demagogues attempt to inflame societal discord and encourage measures opposed to the common good, the Framers’ president infuses cool and objective reason into the public debate. Following the president’s example, respectable leaders at the state and local level join in to exert their influence on the community. Together, the president and local leaders reinforce republican rather than democratic principles. Consent of the governed is not synonymous with following the immediate will of the people.
Unlike authoritarian countries that use raw force to silence opponents, the Framers’ system was not designed to stomp out loud and boisterous factions. No, their system was designed to minimize if not eliminate the damage that factions, if allowed, are certain to do to free government.
When I reflect on the Leftist corruption of all that used to be decent and good, I often have to fight despondency. Instead of operating above society’s various factions, the popularly derived president encourages the very societal divisions that are deadly poison to republics, and is certain to end in strong-arm tactics to quell violence. Adios republic, hello tyranny.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Perhaps there is no turning back, but that is no reason not to try to restore free government. Thinking Americans must understand and inform others that elections alone cannot possibly restore free government, that happy condition wherein government respects and protects the unalienable, Natural Rights of the nation, and makes no law without its consent.
We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States.
Eidelberg, Paul. The Philosophy of the American Constitution. New York: The Free Press, 1968. Book.
Hamilton, Madison, Jay. The Federalist Papers, #68-72. (1788). Book.