Friday, January 30, 2004

Doubts on the Presidency: Protecting Americans or Protecting what America means?

Daniel Drezner in his weblog comes out with a thoughtful statement:

Here's my position -- I'm genuinely unsure of who I'm going to vote for. More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He's not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he'll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you'd see an Executive Order within 24 hours. Andrew Sullivan and others have delivered this harangue, so I won't repeat it.

If -- a big if -- the Democrats put forward a credible alternative, then I could very well pull the donkey lever.
[emphasis added]

This is an extraordinary statement. Dan has been no apologist for the Administration, but like many Republicans has often chosen to quietly express his dismay with the President's policies. The ultimate problem though is that the Democratic candidates are still tripping over their own feet. There's a seeming "fatal flaw" with each and every last one of them that is on prominent display. One could argue that some are fixable, but it's a hard thing to genuinely and credibly change one's approach to life perhaps even more so since it has proven successful to these gentlemen in the past.

My position is pretty simple on the topic. The first duty of a President of the United States of America, is surprisingly not the directive to protect the populace. Instead every President swears an oath of office which binds him to the duty (that is shared by all citizens) to "... to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." So protecting individual Americans is not the President's first priority, though rightfully Americans seek a President who will protect them, but the President must as his first duty seek to protect what it means to be an American. There is a subtle but all important difference between protecting Americans as a primary obligation, and protecting what it means to be American.

Some may argue that the President is right in his actions. Others may argue that even if they disagree with his tactics, that he is a more credible Executive than his Democratic opponents. However, each American should be ready to lay down their lives if necessary to protect the way of life embodied in the Constitution. If that is our first responsibility and if it is true indeed that "More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon.", then our first responsibility is to democratically remove a President who however seemingly capable of realizing his ambitions includes in those ambitions undermining what it means to be American.

As Benjamin Franklin observed: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety...".


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