Watergate. Iran. Iran-Contra. "Read my lips." Monica Lewinsky. Bush-era gripes. And now gun control.
I think we can all agree on one thing--the Office of Chief of Executive, whether you want to talk about any particular Republican occupant or their Democratic counterparts, has become too big for one man. And so, I propose it is time to act to reduce the power of the one in an effort to empower the nation to greater prosperity, Liberty and freedom going forward. Specifically, I propose the following:
- Divorce all members of the current cabinet from the President, including the Vice President. Each cabinet official shall be elected separately from one another and from the President, including the Vice President. We already have the mechanism in place to elect these individuals (namely the Electoral College), and by separating their election from the President I am not necessarily advocating keeping, say, the Department of Education. Which agencies to eliminate is a completely separate discussion from reducing the power of the Presidency. I am simply advocating removing all power from the President.
This proposal would, in effect, empower the Committee Chairs of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Now, instead of answering to the President each individually-elected member of the Executive Branch would report occasionally to their corresponding Committees, which would, by nature, increase the level of oversight by our elected representatives in Congress, and reduce by corresponding proportion the powers of the Office of Chief Executive.
It would also by nature empower the Vice President to be a greater influence in government than they currently are. As the directly elected President of the Senate, we would be ensured of having a more direct say in the management of that body as well as greater influence over their actions. Imagine, if you will, a U.S. Senate as today with a majority of Democrats--and a Republican Vice President serving as President of the Senate! Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would be beside himself.
Again, this is a separate discussion from which agencies might be eliminated. That is a separate issue unto itself. I simply acknowledge that perhaps we have allowed the government to grow too unwieldy for one individual--no matter which Party or their individual qualifications--to effectively manage the entire government.
Additionally, it would be far easier for one person to effectively manage, say, the Department of Defense, if they answer directly to the corresponding Congressional Committees regularly and to Americans through direct election. And, again, by divorcing the role from the President, it restricts one individual's power (both the President's as well as the Secretary's) as well as empowers the Congress to step up and take a more direct role in oversight--a key provision assumed in this proposal.
The President would retain only the powers to sign or veto legislation passed by Congress and the power of appointment in the case of Executive vacancy. Another option to consider in such a case would be for a Commission to be established which would even divorce this role from the President as well. Such appointments could include appointments to fill Executive and Judicial vacancies (including the Supreme Court) and could be made by a Commission including the Vice President (President of the Senate), the Speaker of the House, the President, the Secretary of State and the Majority Leader of the Senate, or some variation thereof.
- Reduce the term limitation on the Office of Chief Executive to one, four-year term. My first sentence recounts the second term "issues" we have seen dating back to the 1970's. Were the list to stop at Iran-Contra we may be able to write off this entire proposal. But it did not. And it is not restricted to one party or one issue. It includes multiple generations of American Presidents, both parties and a variety of issues. We owe it to both these individuals as well as to ourselves to protect both them and ourselves going forward.
The underlying issue under consideration here is, we are a nation full of incredibly talented people. Both in considering who would fill the role of President going forward as well as the multiple individuals who would fill the newly created Executive roles, I have no doubt that a very impressive roster of individuals, talented in a multitude of arenas, would rise to the top for consideration. In addition, it makes logical sense that perhaps a person qualified for the position of Secretary of Defense may not make the greatest Attorney General, or a wonderful Secretary of State may not be the best candidate for Health and Human Services. And so on. By divorcing these roles from the Office of Chief Executive we would now have a direct say in these individual roles as well as in the vetting of the qualifications of the various candidates for the same. No more contentious appointments. If we don't like the candidate, we vote for their opponent. And in the same way, the prospect of electing the Vice President directly and separately from the President adds a very distinct and interesting dynamic to American government we have never seen--one where it would be quite likely that the Vice President would enjoy more influence in government as the President of the Senate than the President would as Chief Executive.
And since we are a nation chock-full of talented Governors (50) and Senators (100) as well as gifted entrepreneurs and corporate executives, there is no reason for us to limit ourselves to having to re-elect a person in four years. One and done. Again, this adds an interesting dynamic to the American experience.
- Restrict the relatives of a President from being elected President. This one would actually affect each Party, if you think about it. Had this already been in place we would have seen a different President from 2000 to 2008, George W. Bush's father having previously been President. And it would have restricted Hillary Clinton from seeking the Democratic nomination, her husband Bill having previously served as well. Again, we are a nation of incredibly talented people. We don't need to settle into a system of inherited status--especially if we're just going to reduce the Office of Chief Executive to that of the nation's literal #1 amateur golfer, a position the President already maintains in a figurative capacity.
- Lastly, there needs to be a restriction on the total number of terms served in the Executive Branch. I would be reasonable here and say that two terms below that of President plus one term as President. And only one term each in any particular role. So perhaps an individual serves one term as Secretary of State, then as Vice President and lastly as President. Or Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of State and President. But again, there is no reason to depend upon one individual to serve in the Executive Branch for an interminable period of time. Every 20 years we have a completely new cast of perfectly qualified individuals capable of serving. Get in, get out and go join the speaking circuit at $10,000 per hour.
The current debate over gun control is a complete waste of time. However, it highlights one of the problems we face. The current President is speaking of issuing Executive Orders as if he were the God-annointed King of our otherwise constitutional Republic. And this sort of behavior is not the first time a President has overstepped the power delegated to them or misbehaved in a manner unbecoming of the Office in which they serve.
We owe it to these men to allow them their dignity when they complete their time of service. We owe it to them to allow them their honor and reputation when they leave public life for the private sector.
But of even greater consideration for all concerned, we have allowed our government to become to unwieldy for any one human being to faithfully execute the Office of Chief Executive to the best of their ability. And so we owe it to ourselves to change the laws governing this position so that those who serve us in the Executive Branch are capable of serving in a manner of honor, abiding by the oath which they pledge themselves to once again.
It is not an easy proposition to digest, much less to agree with every tenet of. But a simple review of the inadequacies of two generations of incumbents reveals the necessity. And so now we must make the effort to effectively tackle a very complicated issue in a manner which we can all agree afterward, "That was the right thing to do, and we by God did it."