I suppose some people are surprised that President Trump is willing to use military force without so much as a warning peep. I’m not. That is, after all the, entire reason why we have a single president, and not a council of executives.
The Founding Fathers designed the country to be a particular way. They wanted the constitution of the United States to guide people to act in ways that would protect the interests of the United States and the people of the United States, especially in protecting individual rights.
The Founding Fathers deeply distrusted the so-called “will of the people”. Although their political philosophy was founded on the idea that people had the sovereign right to rule themselves, it was not founded on the idea that everyone has an equal say. Certainly, if we look at who was allowed to vote for the constitution itself, only a limited number of people, particularly white male property owners, were even allowed to make their opinion matter. Everyone else had to accept whatever the property owners decided was best.
This was by design. After all, if you give a large group of people the power to choose for themselves, they will selfishly and short-sightedly choose those things that they want at the expense of what is best for them in the future. By limiting the vote for property owners, they found a rare way to bring in long-term vision into short-term decisions. After all, property owners care most about the value of their property, particularly the productive capacity of their property. Property owners typically have a very large sunk cost that they are trying to recoup. Or perhaps they have inherited the property through birthright and simply wanted to preserve it for their future generations. There is no single group of people that is as forward thinking as property owners.
The three branches of government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial, exist to take action at different times and different ways.
The legislative is the deliberative body, where everyone can come together and make their opinions heard. The halls of congress were supposed to be debate halls, where the great issues of the day are discussed and compromises ensue.
A great example of this from history is the famous Webster-Hayne debate, which President Jackson attended. These two men represented the two most powerful political philosophies of the day, and engaged in a brutal one-on-one philosophical combat, laying out their arguments with nothing left to the imagination. Webster argued that Union and Liberty were inseperable, that any argument which divided the United States was really an argument against liberty itself. Hayne argued that the federal government was a creature of the states, created by the states, and it can be limited by the states arbitrarily. This argument was so important that it became the basis for a full war, the Civil War, roughly half a century later.
The judicial branch is meant to be the place where private citizens have their disagreements reconciled. No one can be convicted without passing through the hands of a judge, appointed to life-time terms, chosen by the president and confirmed by the senate. After the Marbury v. Madison decision, however, all of that changed, as both the executive and legislative branches turned to the judicial branch to determine for them what the constitution said. It is remarkable to know what the effects of this bad policy has been. No longer do we turn to the house and senate to hear the arguments of the day, but we wait for the Supreme Court to meet together and decide our issues for us, without our input at all.
The executive branch is probably the least understood branch of government. On the one hand, it’s not uncommon to hear people say that the president should write a law, or change the law. On the other hand, you hear people trying to stop the president from action by laws or judicial decisions.
Let me help the reader understand the purpose of the executive. Originally, under the Virginia Plan proposed at the Constitutional Convention, the executive was to be appointed for life, to serve a life term. This was nothing short of a king, except his power was constrained by the legislature and to a degree the judicial. The executive was invested with all the power of enforcement as well as the power to wage, but not declare, war.
President Trump is handling this awesome responsibility very well. He is supposed to be the “voice in the wilderness” thrusting obvious reality into the debate. He is supposed to override and overrule the “will of the people”. Someone like Donald Trump, sitting in the president’s office, has no possible ambition beyond doing what he thinks is best. The tradition of the office of president was supposed to be that the president would be so wealthy that he could want for nothing more. (That’s the real reason why kings in Europe are given every worldly desire — you can’t bribe someone who has everything!)
We don’t know what President Trump is doing in the halls of the White House, what he is saying in his secret meetings with the heads of foreign states, nor should we. He answers to no one, only his own conscience and God. That’s the way it is supposed to be.
Now, we can whine and complain and moan about the things he has done, but he should care little for our opinion, because we simply cannot have the vision he has. In his office, he sees things that we will never know about, he knows things that we will never see.
After 4 years, we will have a national referendum on whether he should continue as president. After 4 more years, we’ll have the rest of our lives to try and figure out what he did and why. But by that time, he will be old news and someone else will occupy the White House.
In this way, presidents live on in immortal memory, not for what they have actually done or not done, but for what we think they did.
In short, the new bellicose Donald Trump is not new and not surprising. This is who the president is supposed to be, the kind of president we need, the exact sort of behavior we should expect. I hate war as much as the next guy, but I am relying on our president to be ready and willing to threaten and use it to defend our natural rights.