Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Constitutional Consolation

I've come to realize that humans really like figureheads. Humans want someone tangible that they can follow and be inspired by. Or they want someone on whom to pour their vitriol and criticism. Humans like hierarchy and top-down mandated structures. Did you know that queen ants and queen bees actually do not tell any ant/bee to do anything? Did you know there is no one "leader" bird in a flying flock? Or when you see a termite mound, that not one single termite architect laid out any sort of predetermined plans?

Anyways, all that is brought on by the political popularity contests that are going on these days. The United States is voting for its latest figurehead. The potential figureheads make the usual sorts of campaign promises, like "I will give healthcare to all Americans," or "I will raise taxes on the evil rich," or "I will be a conniving power-hungry opinion poll driven ruler." People seem to forget, however, that the U.S. president is head of the executive branch of our government. Executive branch, as in the one which executes laws. It does not make laws. That responsibility belongs to the legislative branch. Presidential promises are all for naught if Congress doesn't get the law to the president's desk. A president can create all the committees and task forces he wants, but it means nothing if the bicameral Congress cannot agree upon the proposed law.

If the electoral college should put a random number generator (like McCain), a boggart (= shapeshifter depending on who confronts it; Hillary), or an infant into presidential office, I will take consolation in the fact that the Constitution has checks and balances in place to prevent one person from taking too much power. The sluggish pace of bureaucracy could be a benefit if Congress is debating something that would be bad for the country. And sometimes even when both legislative and executive branches agree on things, stuff still doesn't get done. HillaryCare in the 90's is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Whether you're liberal / conservative / libertarian / whatever-you-are, take comfort in the fact that the bigger the legislation, the more opposition it will likely face. And the bigger the legislation, the slower it will probably be implemented (if at all).

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