Emotion before reason and action before fact. Ready, fire and no need to aim. Too many people truly do not understand what is required to be a responsible citizen and have relegated the critical action of voting to an emotionally dysfunctional task. I am reminded of a man who once told me that he voted for Bill Clinton because he identified with Clinton saying “He’s my age, chases women, and smoked marijuana. I can see myself having a beer with him”.
In that vein, let’s begin elevating how we elect a President in this election cycle. Here is a plan of action for your consideration:
1. First and foremost, what does the job of president entail?
In essence the Constitution in Article II provides the President the powers to “be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy . . . and of the Militia of the several States, . . . have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons . . . and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; 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, and . . . shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, . . . He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”
Only Congress is granted the power to make laws, whereas the President must faithfully execute the laws. The President does have the power to veto legislation to prevent it from becoming a law, but such veto can be overridden by Congress. So when presidential candidates say they will give free college education or rebuild the military they are merely saying what their policy preference is. As president they have no granted power to do any such thing unless it is passed by both houses of Congress and withstands any court challenge.
2. Make a list as to why do you support a specific candidate?
Choosing a candidate should be a somber and reasoned decision. Make a list of what policies you like and dislike. A candidate’s policies are critical and should be compared and limited to Article 1 Section VIII of the Constitution. These 18 paragraphs define the limited powers of the national government and all else is left to the States and people.
You may like Donald Trump but what are his policies beside his tag line to make America great again? Yes, many are angry at government and media, but anger should be channeled into reasoned research not emotional reaction.
You may like Hillary Clinton for her many years in politics but she has a proven record of deceit and in all her time in Congress and as Secretary of State, what has she accomplished? Which brings us to the critical point, that for all the talk of a candidate, do they have a reasonable avenue to achieve what they propose?
For example, Chris Mathews grilled Bernie Sanders on how he was going to get 60 votes in the Senate for any of his policies. Sanders only response was that Mathews did not understand that Sanders was starting a revolution and young people would come into the streets to demand change. This, by itself, indicates Sanders has no support for his policies and he has a daunting task to get his legislation by a revolution.
3. Examine your list
Is your list reasonable or simply talking points by the candidate and media? Does the list pertain to the powers of the President and is it reasonably achievable. A good candidate is someone who you agree with 50% of the time.
4. Come to a verdict on each candidate
Question each candidate. This is a job application and do not limit yourself to one candidate or one party. If all this results in questioning your prior conception of your support of the candidate – good.
Being a responsible citizen and voting responsibly is no different than your professional life. Whether you study or are employed in engineering to the performing arts, you learn a discipline through the practice of it. Politics is no different. It requires study and constant practice. Do not be drawn into a chaotic and emotional disastrous selection – this is what politicians and media want. It plays us for fools and reduces our choices to identity politics or drama for ratings. Gather facts, reason judgments and make your decision.