Monday, October 1, 2012

Cult of (Presidential) Personality

What is the President of the United States supposed to be?

Is he (or she for when it happens) to be someone relatable?  Is he to be someone you can have a laugh, or beer with?  Is the President someone whom after you've met, leaves with the feeling of, as Joseph Campbell said "good fellow well met"? 

We are bombarded with images of a smiling face responding to numerous questions, nominees stating what their 'guilty pleasures' are, appearing on network shows to joke and be 'eye candy', and of course shaking hands and kissing babies.  With all of this, it seems the President should be the good fellow well met.

Is that what the President should be?

The President of the United States is first and foremost the head of the executive branch of the government; the rest of the triumvirate includes the judiciary with the court, and the legislative with the congress.  The President is not to be the one passing laws, or ruling on laws, but to be the chief enforcer of the laws.

This brings us to: what are the laws?  As we have 'progressed' through the decades, there are numerous laws - thousands of pages - and in those pages, laws contradict, overlap and make exceptions.  With that, we must look at the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.  For example, where laws have been passed that may otherwise restrict free speech, we have Cohen V. California: Cohen was arrested for 'disturbing the peace' by wearing a shirt stating 'Fuck the Draft'.  Just over a word, Supreme Court Justice Harlan wisely observed in the court's opinion "This case may seem at first blush too inconsequential to find its way into our books, but the issue it presents is of no small constitutional significance."

The Constitution was held as the supreme law of the land - that it should be held as - and Cohen's conviction was reversed.  There have been times of other violations and those violations come to the highest court to be ruled upon to check the constitutionality of those laws, policies and rulings.  Therefore, the President as the chief enforcer of the country has his first fealty toward the Constitution - it's in the oath of office when he is sworn in.

There is a difference between the power delegated to the President in the Constitution, and that which has become allowable in expanding precedent in actions taken by previous Presidents - and the Congress.  Congress passed the Patriot Act and NDAA, both of which violate Constitutional rights, but have not been heard by the Supreme Court (outside of one statute deemed 'anti-terrorism').  President Obama acted as jury and executioner with the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (Anwar's teenage son), both of whom were American citizens and had their rights violated. 

Constitutional rights of due process are not to protect the guilty, for if guilty and judged as such they will be punished as judged; constitutional rights are to protect everyone from being falsely convicted.  In a trial, we do not just let the prosecutor provide his evidence and not let the defense have their voice: why would we allow the power of judging to one who is pulling a trigger at the same time?

The President is in essence a magnified and glorified National Sheriff, charged with upholding the laws of the land, and acting as the legal representative of the country.  He is to be judicious and fair in following the laws passed, but most importantly upholding the base the laws come from, being the Constitution, and from that Natural Law. 

Does how much he can smile, or how many babies he can kiss have anything to do with how he will act in the role of President instead of appeaser to the masses to get elected?  Such superficialities may help get him elected, but they won't help him in the role of being President.  Do you want someone you can have a laugh or a beer with in the role, or should the President be more than that and be the chief enforcer of laws?-what is more valuable?

The carefully groomed and manicured front-runner nominees of Obama and Romney… how different are they?  Both want(ed) NDAA, the Patriot Act, auto bailouts, TARP, CISPA, healthcare mandates, the drug war, expanded military interventionism overseas, among various other shared interests.  What is the substantive difference between these two?  In the media, the difference is their personality: though both are rich, Romney is lambasted as out-of-touch and rich, while Obama is the likeable professor-type, but aloof.  However, they both make their rounds on television, their jokes, public contact eating where they can be seen to be 'one of us' and again, shaking hands and kissing babies.

According to the left/right media, Obama claims he'll help the poor more, while Romney will help 'the job creators' more; in either case, it's more of the government getting into the market - remember, both embraced the bailouts and other programs so they're not that different.  The media skips the similarities, focusing on how they each 'look' presidential.  Joseph Campbell advised it's a lessening of the role of the President to be the good fellow well met.

Their presidential look is a Potemkin village; in the role to uphold the highest law of the land, they both embrace policies and laws that violate the Constitution. 

It is up to us as citizens to elect someone that isn't just 'likeable', but is someone ready for the role; the role not to be a cheerleader, not to be someone's friend, but to be the chief enforcer of the supreme law of the United States.  This is true not just for the President, but also for those trying to get into Congress.  We must rise above the tricks and manipulations the politicians and their handlers try to use, and ensure the elected officials follow the Constitution.  If we do not follow the Constitution  and allow them to overlook it as well, then we'll have nothing to base our defense upon when we may be looked upon as the 'bad guy' and be scapegoated, having our property or even our lives taken - we will be Constitutionally insignificant, for the Constitution will be.

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