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Why This Election Shouldn’t Matter

Written by Gavin Davis '17

Photo via CNN

What are the actual duties and responsibilities of the president of the United States? Most Americans have seemingly for-got, including the two major party presidential candidates. The Founders have laid out these duties and responsibilities clearly and concisely in Article Two of the United States Constitution. In short, the president is Commander-in-Chief of the military, who can make treaties and nominate ambassadors and judges. These limited powers are checked by the Senate, who is responsible for declaring war and advising and consenting with the president’s nomination choices. Thus, according to the Founders, the president does very little to change daily life in America.

However, this is far from the reality of the situation. The tradition of the president to extend his powers unconstitutionally has created an overly emotional stage for the 2016 election. Both candidates have made an over-whelming amount of promises leading up to election day. Donald Trump plans on building a wall on our shared border with Mexico, deporting millions of illegal immigrants, and halting immigration from many Middle Eastern countries. Hillary Clinton has promised to raise wages, expand Obamacare, and make college debt free. The large un-favorability ratings among these two candidates has caused for such an impassioned election that Clinton supporters feel as though the world will cease to exist if Trump wins and vice versa. However, the Founders never intended for such polarizing presidential elections because the powers of the federal government were supposed to be extremely limited.

Yet during every presidency, the president has managed to expand his powers. Federal law has gone too far, from regulating the water pressure in your shower to what children study in grade school to how fast you can drive your car. If the president and the rest of the federal government better understood their role, those living in Mississippi wouldn’t need to fear Clinton telling them how to live their lives and those living in Massachusetts wouldn’t need to fear Trump. The Tenth Amendment is important because it allows those governing closer to the people to pass the laws and create the policies that affect those people.

Additionally, if our presidents played a more limited role like they are supposed to, we would see far less corruption at the federal level. Large corporations and affluent individuals would no longer feel compelled to push their agendas by donating large sums of money to the major party candidates. Imagine a president who didn’t need to constantly worry about the interests of Wall Street or the NRA. That might sound too good to be true, but it is how the federal government is supposed to operate.

We have no one to blame but ourselves. When the American people fail to respect the Constitution, we can not be surprised when our elected representatives have increasingly loose interpretations of it. Our Constitution is important, even though some may say it’s dated, because it does an excellent job of limiting the powers vested with the president. Disregard for the limited powers of president has created a 2016 election where it appears that no matter who wins, the American people will lose.

About the author

Gavin Davis '17