What if One Day We Get a Bad President?
I believe I have noticed a problem with President Obama’s declaring that he can blow up Americans with drone strikes without due process.
Stick with me here; this is a bit of an esoteric argument. Now, like most people, I celebrate every time Obama obtains more power. Now he can do whatever he feels needs to be done for the country and not be burdened with getting the approval of his lessers first. So the more powerful the presidency, the better for us all. But I had a terrible thought: What if one day we get a bad president?
For instance, take this power to kill Americans with drones. No one worries that Obama will abuse such a power -- I mean, we're talking about a man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just for existing. It's not like he's ever going to use that power to blow us up (though, according to his lawyers, he legally could... and if he did, we'd just have to assume he had really, really good reasons). But just imagine if that power wound up in the hands of a president like George W. Bush. He'd probably blow up people with the drone all day, thinking he was playing a video game ("I'm gettin' me a high score!"). Or worse yet, think of handing Dick Cheney that power. He'd most likely declare a unilateral war on kittens and puppies, blowing them up from the sky and then collecting the tears of children for some evil Halliburton project.
And the power to incinerate people isn’t the only power I fear could fall into the wrong hands. Like, what about the new authority the government has under President Obama to force people to buy things? That's great for Obama to have, because he can force people to buy things they really do need to buy, like health care (and maybe in the future other things we all should really have, like hybrids or his memoirs). But think of what could happen if a president not as enlightened as Obama wielded such a power, backed by a Congress full of Republican troglodytes? They could make us all buy AR-15s or Big Gulps or Bibles or other dangerous, awful things.
Furthermore, there is Obama's position on compromise. Now, we all agree that it's absolutely ridiculous that Obama has to yield at all to those mindless Republican thugs who somehow hold a majority in Congress. Obama is a brilliant man, so why should he compromise to the ideals of those so far beneath him? That's why he doesn't ever yield and agree to spending cuts and just asks for more taxes on the rich. And if somehow taxing the rich more and more doesn't make the math add up, then we'll ignore the stupid math. I mean, that's why we haven't had a federal budget for years: Why in the world should what Obama can do be limited by some arbitrary squiggles called "numbers"? So Obama will absolutely not compromise with crazed right-wingers or math.
But think of what would happen if a bad president took such an attitude? He'd spend all his time making speeches, listing out promises that would never be fulfilled, while Congress would be locked in constant gridlock. What a pointless, worthless presidency that would be.
Also, the latitude we give Obama might become a problem if bad presidents come to expect it. Normally, if the unemployment rate hovered around 8% for a president's entire term (and was only that low because millions of people had given up even looking for work) while at the same time we were burdened with high gas prices and economic growth ground to a halt, we would say that president was a complete and utter failure. Basically the worst president imaginable. We'd not only want that worthless wretch kicked out of office before he could do any more damage to our economy, we'd want him forced to wander the streets while citizens pelted him with rotten fruit and shouted obscenities at him.
With Obama, though, we're very understanding of what's happened to the economy because of the mess he inherited from Bush. Obviously, someone as smart as him, with all his economic experience from community organizing and voting in legislatures, is doing the absolute best anyone could expect, and four years later he's almost got unemployment going in the right direction. But what if a Republican becomes president and has a similar record and expects the same leeway? He could be a total disaster on the economy -- America could have results almost as bad as during the last four years -- and then finish his first term and expect a pat on the head and a cookie like we gave Obama.
So we are setting a lot of precedents during Obama’s presidency that will give us something to fear if we elect a bad president someday. Still, I know what many of you are thinking: "We'll just never elect a bad president again." It does seem like we've fixed the system so we won't ever elect a bad president, as Mitt Romney, who despises 47% of Americans, lost quite handily to Obama (who despises a much smaller percentage of Americans -- only rich people and business owners). Romney wanted to outlaw vaginas and tie poor people to the top of his car, and there was something about binders that was very bad though hard to coherently explain why, and the people rejected him. But it wasn't that long ago that George W. Bush was elected and reelected. And what if in 2016 people aren't enamored with Hillary Clinton’s charm or wowed by literally one of the sharpest intellects we've ever seen, Joe Biden? What if instead they fall for that psychopath Marco Rubio, despite his affinity for drinking water?
The obvious solution is to have Obama be president forever, but that's not practical. Eventually Obama will get bored and want to be president of a country he likes better than this one. Another idea would be to pass a law that if the president is an enlightened progressive, he shall have dictator-like powers and not have anything he does questioned by Congress or the Supreme Court, but if he's a right-winger, he'll need a supermajority in Congress to do anything. The only problem is that the Republicans in Congress love to block all commonsense legislation like that.
So the only option left is to consider curtailing a bit of the power we're allowing Obama, because someday we might have a president who is completely detached from average Americans, doesn't care about our problems, and ruins everything he touches -- someone completely unlike Obama. I mean, just imagine all that power Obama has in the hands of someone who completely sucks at being president. The economy would be ruined, we'd have disastrous situations abroad, and our liberties would be threatened. It would be a lot like now, but instead of it being Bush's fault, it would be the fault of the current president. So to keep that from happening, we'll have to do the hard thing and put more limitations on Obama's power. I'm sure he'll understand and not drone-strike us.
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