What Are You Looking For In A President?

It is an amazing thing to me what we often look for in a President here in America. In 2008 people bought into the lie of Barack Obama when he claimed “more transparency”. Instead, we got more closed door sessions and bills signed into law that we barely knew what was in them when they were passed. He has claimed to have worked so hard and yet we have seen him take in 100 rounds of golf and vacation at our expense.

In this election people are looking for someone with the ability to turn the economy around, as if that is the President’s ability or job. Mitt Romney is getting a lot of attention because of his experience at Bain Capital. While that is all fine and dandy, this does not fit the job description of the President of the United States.

I thought about what the job description actually is for the President and do you know what I found out? According to the U.S. Constitution, the President of the United States has a job description of just 358 words, including his oath of office. Did you get that? We aren’t talking 358 pages, just 358 words in his job description.

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I want to lay them out before you here and the sections of the Constitution that speak to this issue. In Article II, Section 2 we read,

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The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Here is what he is to do:

  • The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of America.
  • The president has power, with the advice and consent of the Senate (requires 2/3s of the Senate’s approval), to make Treaties.
  • The president can appoint Ambassadors, public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of hte Supreme Court and other Officers of the United States, including cabinet members. He can also fill up any vacancies during the recess of the Senate in granting Commissions which expire at the End of the next Session.
  • The president is also allowed to grant pardons for crimes other than impeachment.
  • Finally and most importantly the president is to make sure that the laws, which Congress passes, are executed and enforced as written. This is because he is the head of the Executive Branch. This is summed up in the oath that he takes in Section 1 as the chief law enforcement officer.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

He does have one more thing that he must do and that is related to how he deals with Congress. In Article II Section 3 the Constitution reads,

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Notice in all of this, there is absolutely no mention of “executive order.” This was purposeful as the Constitutional Convention wanted to invest limited powers in the president. It wanted the powers balanced between the three branches of government so that one was not more powerful than the other, but that they could each keep the other in check.

While the colonists of America stood against King George, they did so because George thought he was an absolute monarch rather than a constitutional monarch. Even at the time of the writing of the Magna Carta in 1215 it was understood that the British Sovereigns was purposefully limited.

Charles I also found this out the hard way, when he wanted to bring in foreign armies to attack his own people. He lost his head literally over that as Oliver Cromwell stood up to him.

Sadly, we have seen on both sides of the aisle presidents that have overstepped their job descriptions and wandered into areas they should not. Let us keep this in mind this election season.

Remember that the president, as well as Congress, is not elected to give into our every whim, but to uphold and defend the Constitution. They are not our kings, but servants of the King of kings, Jesus Christ, and representatives and public servants of the people. Sadly, many are not asking the most relevant questions of the candidates before us and that is: Will they actually perform that job description and then press them to make sure they know what they can and cannot do.

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