Why Celebrate the Presidents?

By almost any objective standard, the institution of the U.S. Presidency is a failure. Certainly at a moral level as well as by the intent of the founding fathers, who worried collectively about creativity a “foetus of monarchy,” no right-minded person could defend the institution. Generally, it has been led by incompetents, many of them immoral or incapable of moral agency toward the good.

Even a cursory glance at Article II of the U.S. Constitution reveals that the framers worried most about a presidency getting out of hand. Hence, the office originally had next to no power, with restrictions on almost everything. Yet, today, the office possesses the greatest amount of power ever entrusted to a single person. At the tips of the president’s fingers reside not only the largest and most lethal military arsenal ever assembled by humanity, but also access to the most intimate information about every single American citizen.

There is nothing in the 1787 Constitution that allows for a “national emergency” to be declared by the president, nor does it allow for “executive orders.”

Yet, we take each of these things as a matter of course.

To my mind, only five to seven men have been worthy of the office–and I speak here from a constitutional standpoint, not a policy one–Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Reagan.

And, yet, we have a federal holiday dedicated to the failure and horror of the whole thing. Sickening.

One thought on “Why Celebrate the Presidents?”

  1. Well said! My only hesitation is that we oughtn’t identify the massive power now wielded by the Executive *Branch* with the comparatively minor de facto authority wielded by the Chief Executive. Our problem isn’t strongmen run amok; it’s much closer to bureausclerosis.

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