• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Is there any candidate who (just) wants to be president?

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Watching the coverage of the presidential race, I am struck by the extent of the powers that most of the candidates seem to be striving for. In theory, our Consitution suggests a system of divided powers, in which the three branches have separate responsibilities and also a certain amount and check-and-balance control over each other's excesses. This has been malfunctional for a long time, and the executive branch has been unofficially but really acquiring many of the powers of the Legislative and Judicial branches. This process has been steadily consistent under both Democratic and Republican presidencies. As I listen to the candidates talk, it seems to me that most of their talking points - overhauling immigration policy, changing fundamental elements of the economy, declaring or ending wars - are well outside the scope of the president's actual job, whereas many things that I deeply care about and which actually are the presidents job - setting the tone for the educational system, overseeing management of natural resources, enforcing existing treaty obligations, filling the thousands of job vacancies that Trump has allowed to lapse - don't get nearly as much press. The irony is that most of the candidates, given that they already sit on the Senate or House, technically have more power now to do half the shit they are promising to do as president, begging the question of why they don't want to just stay where they are if those things are truly their principal focus.

Has any of the existing candidates for the presidency actually based their candidacy on issues and policies that the president (according to the bounds of the Constitution, not "unofficial" influence) actually has the legal responsibility to do?

To give an example, Kamala Harris lists the following on her website as her first six priorities:

Ensuring Medicare for all (A president could work to execute a law that guaranteed this, but it is not their job to make such a law or even "get it passed")

Reversing a tax cut (Congress), raising the minimum wage (Congress), and holding corporations accountable for bad practices (Judicial).

Raising teacher's pay (not really Congress' job either, that's more of a district-by-district thing and ignoring this is ignoring unions; but definitely not the president's)

Passing the Green New Deal (Congress) and encouraging alternative energy (this I could see a role for the executive branch in doing).

Reforming the Criminal Justice System (Either Congress or the Judicial, depending on which specific item we're talking about)

Passing Reasonable Gun Safety Laws (Congress)​

That whole list and only one of the things on it is within the constitutional bounds of the office. Are there any candidates who want to just be a president, and not a de facto monarch?
 

PyramidHead

Contributor
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
5,080
Location
RI
Basic Beliefs
Marxist-Leninist
You're leaving out a huge element of what an effective President should be doing: mobilizing popular support for all of the policies that got him/her elected to create pressure on Congress from below. In other words: the bully pulpit, public appearances across the nation, support for grassroots efforts that circumvent official parties, raising awareness of the power people can have when they band together. Informing people that democracy isn't something that just takes place one day out of the year, and putting a spotlight on any activities that demonstrate that fact (strikes, protests, town halls, boycotts, etc.) without demonizing them as Trump often does.

ETA: And a candidate with such policy aspirations has much more influence as President than as a member of Congress in that regard. Electing someone who represents your interests to a position that requires Congressional support to enact anything is how you build the kind of momentum that percolates up into Congressional buy-in.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
You're leaving out a huge element of what an effective President should be doing: mobilizing popular support for all of the policies that got him/her elected to create pressure on Congress from below. In other words: the bully pulpit, public appearances across the nation, support for grassroots efforts that circumvent official parties, raising awareness of the power people can have when they band together. Informing people that democracy isn't something that just takes place one day out of the year, and putting a spotlight on any activities that demonstrate that fact (strikes, protests, town halls, boycotts, etc.) without demonizing them as Trump often does.

ETA: And a candidate with such policy aspirations has much more influence as President than as a member of Congress in that regard. Electing someone who represents your interests to a position that requires Congressional support to enact anything is how you build the kind of momentum that percolates up into Congressional buy-in.

I'm not leaving them out, so much as disagreeing that they are good for the health of our national democracy.
 

Terrell

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
1,166
Location
Winter Garden, Florida
Basic Beliefs
socially liberal/libertarian on most issues, but not all.
I agree there. Presidential candidates often overpromise & under deliver. I'm wondering how much the American people would be willing to listen to a presidential candidate that keeps his (her) promises to the items over which the President actually has control such as:

He (she) will appoint people who hold X views for offices, why his choices are better, and ask for a Senate that will approve them.

He will not advocate for needless war.

He will seek to have X treaties with X countries, why, and needs a Senate that will approve.

He will sign laws that support X policies, and veto laws that support Y policies. Why.

He'll request of the voters that they give him a Congress that will work with him.

I don't know that a Presidential candidate that restrains himself to the powers over which his office actually controls can win. Maybe, maybe not, we'll have to see. I don't imagine the press being friendly to the candidate limiting his promises this way. Doing so may hurt their bottom line.
 

southernhybrid

Contributor
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Messages
6,621
Location
Georgia, US
Basic Beliefs
atheist
I agree with the OP. I am so sick of listening to the candidates promising things that will ever become reality. There is no way that any president will be able to mobilize enough members of Congress to get much done, with the nation as deeply divided as it is currently. And, it's very common that when some of the more progressive candidates make promises, the numbers don't mach up to their claims. It's rather disturbing. Progressive voters seem so simplistic these days. They don't have a clue as to how difficult it will be to accomplish some of the things that are on the wish list. I'm not against most of the things, I just know enough to understand that change doesn't come easily.

Furthermore, I wish some of those who are senators would get out of the race, as we need them as Senators much more than we need over 20 candidates running for president. I wish the Democrats would put more emphasis on taking back the Senate because as long as Mitch is in charge, we're all fucked. It's true that there is a much better chance of taking back the Senate than there was in 2018, but nothing is a sure thing. And, what's even more concerning, is that most of the Democrats who took over Republican seats in the house, were moderates. Those individuals are not going to be able to go too far left of they will lose their seats to Republicans in 2020. Sometimes people tend to forget that most of the country isn't as progressive as they may be. The Dems have their work cut out for them.
 

Elixir

Made in America
Joined
Sep 23, 2012
Messages
20,891
Location
Mountains
Basic Beliefs
English is complicated
I agree with the OP. I am so sick of listening to the candidates promising things that will [n]ever become reality.

Oh, but there really IS pie in the sky - we just have to fly up there and get it! (The Promise)
We will have to build massive stairs, which will create millions of jobs blah blah (The Policy)

If you don't do some version of the above, history has already condemned your campaign to the scrap heap.

Furthermore, I wish some of those who are senators would get out of the race, as we need them as Senators much more than we need over 20 candidates running for president. I wish the Democrats would put more emphasis on taking back the Senate because as long as Mitch is in charge, we're all fucked.

Zackly. As you go on to point out, taking the Senate would be no small feat, and would probably require an overall popular vote differential in excess of 10% given the conservatism of so many small, over-represented states. The only way that might happen would be if there's a Dem presidential candidate who appeals to independents and moderate republicans, and produce enough coattails to make it happen. Yeah, I'd like to see a Buttigiege/AOC ticket win the Whitehouse, but not if Sleepy Joe can win both the White House and the Senate.
 

Shadowy Man

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2002
Messages
3,293
Location
West Coast
Basic Beliefs
Rational Pragmatism
But the President does have these powers now. If they don't simply get rubber-stamped by Congress then all they need to do is declare an emergency and sidestep Congress.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Furthermore, I wish some of those who are senators would get out of the race, as we need them as Senators much more than we need over 20 candidates running for president. I wish the Democrats would put more emphasis on taking back the Senate because as long as Mitch is in charge, we're all fucked. It's true that there is a much better chance of taking back the Senate than there was in 2018, but nothing is a sure thing.
And all the money is getting funneled into the presidential race, instead of to those arguably more important ones. If Trump's real job has been to distract the public from noticing what's going on in the actual houses of government these days - and that is always the job of a Republican president - his tenure has been quite successful.
 

PyramidHead

Contributor
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
5,080
Location
RI
Basic Beliefs
Marxist-Leninist
You're leaving out a huge element of what an effective President should be doing: mobilizing popular support for all of the policies that got him/her elected to create pressure on Congress from below. In other words: the bully pulpit, public appearances across the nation, support for grassroots efforts that circumvent official parties, raising awareness of the power people can have when they band together. Informing people that democracy isn't something that just takes place one day out of the year, and putting a spotlight on any activities that demonstrate that fact (strikes, protests, town halls, boycotts, etc.) without demonizing them as Trump often does.

ETA: And a candidate with such policy aspirations has much more influence as President than as a member of Congress in that regard. Electing someone who represents your interests to a position that requires Congressional support to enact anything is how you build the kind of momentum that percolates up into Congressional buy-in.

I'm not leaving them out, so much as disagreeing that they are good for the health of our national democracy.

Engaging the public directly and galvanizing a movement of upward pressure isn't good for our national democracy?
 

Keith&Co.

Contributor
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Messages
22,444
Location
Far Western Mass
Gender
Here.
Basic Beliefs
I'm here...
Every election cycle, I reach a point of saturation where I suspect that if anyone came forward and just promised to shut up, sit quietly in the white house for four years, and not run again, they'd take the lead overnight.

Every single cycle, that point slips to the left on the timeline.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
You're leaving out a huge element of what an effective President should be doing: mobilizing popular support for all of the policies that got him/her elected to create pressure on Congress from below. In other words: the bully pulpit, public appearances across the nation, support for grassroots efforts that circumvent official parties, raising awareness of the power people can have when they band together. Informing people that democracy isn't something that just takes place one day out of the year, and putting a spotlight on any activities that demonstrate that fact (strikes, protests, town halls, boycotts, etc.) without demonizing them as Trump often does.

ETA: And a candidate with such policy aspirations has much more influence as President than as a member of Congress in that regard. Electing someone who represents your interests to a position that requires Congressional support to enact anything is how you build the kind of momentum that percolates up into Congressional buy-in.

I'm not leaving them out, so much as disagreeing that they are good for the health of our national democracy.

Engaging the public directly and galvanizing a movement of upward pressure isn't good for our national democracy?

As a king in all but name? Absolutely not. Do you want me to start listing off every dictator who began their career by "mobilizing grassroots movements" to challenge the legally enfranchised system of law and justice? You can't claim to be a humble community organizer while also holding the highest office in the land and acting with no restrictions or personal consequence. Well you can, and men have often done so, but it always ends the same way.
 

PyramidHead

Contributor
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
5,080
Location
RI
Basic Beliefs
Marxist-Leninist
Engaging the public directly and galvanizing a movement of upward pressure isn't good for our national democracy?

As a king in all but name? Absolutely not. Do you want me to start listing off every dictator who began their career by "mobilizing grassroots movements" to challenge the legally enfranchised system of law and justice?
Yes. And then I'll refute it by mentioning FDR and Lyndon Johnson. The President's job isn't just to sign laws and command armies, it's to advance an agenda and challenge institutions that no longer serve that agenda. The "legally enfranchised" systems of discrimination against blacks, women, and other minorities were not overturned by Presidents who decided communicating with the populace and gaining their buy-in on important issues wasn't a primary responsibility of the office.

You can't claim to be a humble community organizer while also holding the highest office in the land and acting with no restrictions or personal consequence. Well you can, and men have often done so, but it always ends the same way.
What gives you the idea that there are "no restrictions or personal consequences" for supporting popular activism consistent with a President's policy objectives? For one thing, if the President fails to garner enough support, the agenda will probably not succeed, and someone else will get elected for the next term. That seems like a pretty reasonable mechanism for ensuring a representative government to me.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
What gives you the idea that there are "no restrictions or personal consequences" for supporting popular activism consistent with a President's policy objectives? For one thing, if the President fails to garner enough support, the agenda will probably not succeed, and someone else will get elected for the next term. That seems like a pretty reasonable mechanism for ensuring a representative government to me.

Simple observations of the legal history of the last six presidencies. Power expanding, boundaries dissolving. It doesn't matter if "someone else" takes the seat, they have all participated in the degradation of the democratic system with equal enthusiasm. Which is why I wish there were a candidate to support who is actually in favor of the original constitutional mandate of the office.

I also do not believe for a second that Johnson was responsible for the civil rights movement, and neither should you.
 

PyramidHead

Contributor
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
5,080
Location
RI
Basic Beliefs
Marxist-Leninist
Yes. And then I'll refute it by mentioning FDR and Lyndon Johnson. The President's job isn't just to sign laws and command armies, it's to advance an agenda and challenge institutions that no longer serve that agenda. The "legally enfranchised" systems of discrimination against blacks, women, and other minorities were not overturned by Presidents who decided communicating with the populace and gaining their buy-in on important issues wasn't a primary responsibility of the office.

You can't claim to be a humble community organizer while also holding the highest office in the land and acting with no restrictions or personal consequence. Well you can, and men have often done so, but it always ends the same way.
What gives you the idea that there are "no restrictions or personal consequences" for supporting popular activism consistent with a President's policy objectives? For one thing, if the President fails to garner enough support, the agenda will probably not succeed, and someone else will get elected for the next term. That seems like a pretty reasonable mechanism for ensuring a representative government to me.

Simple observations of the legal history of the last six presidencies. Power expanding, boundaries dissolving. It doesn't matter if "someone else" takes the seat, they have all participated in the degradation of the democratic system with equal enthusiasm.

Sure, but you seem to be equating the bully pulpit, a rhetorical tool for channeling public energy at the state and local level to enact national priorities, with the kinds of Presidential overreach that takes place completely without popular consultation and is often illegal. The two are not similar at all; one is a way to engage the people in the political process while the other excludes them from it by circumventing Congressional approval.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Simple observations of the legal history of the last six presidencies. Power expanding, boundaries dissolving. It doesn't matter if "someone else" takes the seat, they have all participated in the degradation of the democratic system with equal enthusiasm.

Sure, but you seem to be equating the bully pulpit, a rhetorical tool for channeling public energy at the state and local level to enact national priorities, with the kinds of Presidential overreach that takes place completely without popular consultation and is often illegal. The two are not similar at all; one is a way to engage the people in the political process while the other excludes them from it by circumventing Congressional approval.

So is there a candidate who is preparing to use your "bully pulpit", but not the extralegally expanded powers of the executive branch, to achieve their ends? I would settle for that, though still seeing it as at best a distraction from their actual job.
 

PyramidHead

Contributor
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
5,080
Location
RI
Basic Beliefs
Marxist-Leninist
Simple observations of the legal history of the last six presidencies. Power expanding, boundaries dissolving. It doesn't matter if "someone else" takes the seat, they have all participated in the degradation of the democratic system with equal enthusiasm.

Sure, but you seem to be equating the bully pulpit, a rhetorical tool for channeling public energy at the state and local level to enact national priorities, with the kinds of Presidential overreach that takes place completely without popular consultation and is often illegal. The two are not similar at all; one is a way to engage the people in the political process while the other excludes them from it by circumventing Congressional approval.

So is there a candidate who is preparing to use your "bully pulpit", but not the extralegally expanded powers of the executive branch, to achieve their ends? I would settle for that, though still seeing it as at best a distraction from their actual job.

9s85x6vcbq231.jpg
 

lpetrich

Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2000
Messages
19,543
Location
Eugene, OR
Gender
Male
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency, explained - Vox
What is the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency?

According to Brendan Nyhan, the Dartmouth political scientist who coined the term, the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency is "the belief that the president can achieve any political or policy objective if only he tries hard enough or uses the right tactics." In other words, the American president is functionally all-powerful, and whenever he can't get something done, it's because he's not trying hard enough, or not trying smart enough.

Nyhan further separates it into two variants: "the Reagan version of the Green Lantern Theory and the LBJ version of the Green Lantern Theory." The Reagan version, he says, holds that "if you only communicate well enough the public will rally to your side." The LBJ version says that "if the president only tried harder to win over congress they would vote through his legislative agenda." In both cases, Nyhan argues, "we've been sold a false bill of goods."

Wait, how did the Green Lantern get involved in all this?

The Green Lantern Corps is a fictional, intergalactic peacekeeping entity that exists in DC comics. Members of the Corps get a power ring that capable of creating green energy projections of almost unlimited power. The only constraint is the willpower and imagination of the ring's wearer. There was a long period of time when the ring was ineffective against the color yellow but in more recent comics that's just "the Parallax fear anomaly" at work and with enough courage and willpower, the ring works just fine against the color yellow.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency, explained - Vox
What is the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency?

According to Brendan Nyhan, the Dartmouth political scientist who coined the term, the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency is "the belief that the president can achieve any political or policy objective if only he tries hard enough or uses the right tactics." In other words, the American president is functionally all-powerful, and whenever he can't get something done, it's because he's not trying hard enough, or not trying smart enough.

Nyhan further separates it into two variants: "the Reagan version of the Green Lantern Theory and the LBJ version of the Green Lantern Theory." The Reagan version, he says, holds that "if you only communicate well enough the public will rally to your side." The LBJ version says that "if the president only tried harder to win over congress they would vote through his legislative agenda." In both cases, Nyhan argues, "we've been sold a false bill of goods."

Wait, how did the Green Lantern get involved in all this?

The Green Lantern Corps is a fictional, intergalactic peacekeeping entity that exists in DC comics. Members of the Corps get a power ring that capable of creating green energy projections of almost unlimited power. The only constraint is the willpower and imagination of the ring's wearer. There was a long period of time when the ring was ineffective against the color yellow but in more recent comics that's just "the Parallax fear anomaly" at work and with enough courage and willpower, the ring works just fine against the color yellow.

Interesting! I note that this, like all superhero narratives, over-emphasizes the individual as an autonomous hero. If the source of your power is a magic ring which is simply given to you with no rules or constraints, that makes sense. But in the real world, positions of power are not based on magic rings, swords, epaulets, etc, but are rather based on the concentration of capital, a form of power that always has entailments.
 

Toni

Contributor
Joined
Aug 11, 2011
Messages
15,595
Location
NOT laying back and thinking of England
Basic Beliefs
Peace on Earth, goodwill towards all
The POTUS does not legislate. But when sane and effective, the POTUS is a leader and has a great deal of influence and can help direct a legislative agenda
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,712
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
The POTUS does not legislate. But when sane and effective, the POTUS is a leader and has a great deal of influence and can help direct a legislative agenda

Then sane and effective leaders are more of a threat to democracy than incompetent ones. I don't have or want a "strong leader" to tell me what I want to do, and never have.
 

Toni

Contributor
Joined
Aug 11, 2011
Messages
15,595
Location
NOT laying back and thinking of England
Basic Beliefs
Peace on Earth, goodwill towards all
The POTUS does not legislate. But when sane and effective, the POTUS is a leader and has a great deal of influence and can help direct a legislative agenda

Then sane and effective leaders are more of a threat to democracy than incompetent ones. I don't have or want a "strong leader" to tell me what I want to do, and never have.

Oh, I don’t agree. Trump is neither sane or competent and he is certainly the biggest threat to the United States and among the greatest threat worldwide.

Hitler was effective but also insane, and amoral as is Trump, IMO. He did start a world war but he had more time than Trump has had. Trump has been pretty quick to establish concentration camps for children. I’m actually quite nervous about the reports of lice infecting the children because: lice! But also I fear how Trumpites will decide to delude the children. I wish I were exaggerating.

I don’t see the government or any elected (or appointed) official as having the ability to tell me or convince me of what I want. In the US, we have given them the authority to set policies and to make laws—and retain the power to remove them from office.
 
Top Bottom