[November 14, 2016] While waiting to vote this past week, Election Day Tuesday, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman and his wife. He was a Korean War veteran, she a retired state judge, both were vivid reminders of how much our older generation still has to contribute. While none of us volunteered who we would be voting, the conversation quickly turned to how much power the U.S. president has gained over the past 50 plus years or so. Such a concept is not new but the two authors I highlight today reinforce that idea and are convincing why it has happened without much notice by the people or by the Congress. Good reading!
The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power , Gene Healy, 2008 (updated 2009)
Cato Institute scholar and author Gene Healy has written about a subject most people in Washington D.C. don’t want you to hear about. Both political parties, as well as the American people, want a stronger, more active, more powerful president who can fix the world’s problems and fulfill their individual needs. Healy convincingly argues that the more power the U.S. president gains – in opposition to the constitutionally arranged checks and balances – the more danger the citizens are exposed to regardless of political party. The presidency has morphed into a messianic, personality-centered cult, not the modest office of the executive branch. Healy does a great job at tracing the growth of this power of the office from one of specified and limited power at the time of our Founding Fathers to one of tremendous power today. This explains the gross overreach in the last several political administrations. Highly recommended.
False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy, 2012
Author Gene Healy follows up on his 2008 book (see above) which was written at the end of the George Bush, Jr. presidency. The latest book uses president Obama’s first term as a major example to validate his original arguments. Healy tells us that Obama has claimed broad powers over the U.S. economy, foreign affairs (including treaties), the power to launch wars, assassinate American citizens abroad (not on the battlefield), and greatly empower large bureaucracies that have no accountability to the Congress or the American people. The campaigns for Obama were a chance to show everyone that he could miraculously “transform America” and solve all the nations problems including “slowing the rising tides of climate change.” Note however that this is not a hit piece on Obama but on the steadily increasing power of the presidency that threatens our freedoms. Highly recommended.
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