The Myth of the Power of One Man
Throughout the presidential campaign, we have heard about the power of the President of the United States. We have heard from speeches and from ads exactly what President Obama and Mitt Romney would do if they win in November.
However, what we have not heard enough is how little any President can do by himself.
While Civics is taught to American children in middle school, it seems that during election seasons, Americans need a refresher on exactly how our government works.
If we are to believe the positive or negative claims about either candidate, we need to suspend the idea that Congress has anything to do with governing the United States.
Both Mitt Romney and President Obama made enormous claims about what they would do if they win in November during their convention speeches. What neither of them mentioned was how much of that would be contingent upon Congress enabling those actions.
Ironically, Congress was blamed in different ways of stopping progress over the last two years, but somehow, Congress was not mentioned as a possible hurdle by either candidate in the next two years.
I was entertained by the part of President Obama’s speech where he mentioned the value of compromise and that no one party holds all of the wisdom. He then followed this description of compromise by listing the various items that he would never compromise on.
It was a great way to see how real compromise with Congress, which is crucial to any President’s success, takes a back seat in any election.
But looking at this need to work with Congress, and in the bigger picture, the opposing party, shows why counting on one man to do a long list of action items is foolish.
It also shows how the people who write and produce television ads are counting on people having absolutely no clue how our government works.
Barack Obama can’t do many of the nefarious things that ads against him claim he will do, simply because he doesn’t have the power to do so.
The same can be said about Mitt Romney and the various claims that he would single handedly force every woman in America to go into the kitchen, take off her shoes and make her husband a sandwich. He simply doesn’t have that power.
However, if voters believe that President Obama can hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the United Nations, and if voters believe that Mitt Romney will make birth control illegal, that is all that matters.
Many pundits proclaimed on Thursday night that the campaign for President has now formally begun. If it has, it should include how each candidate would not only achieve his goals, but how he would do it with the reality of Congress and the checks and balances system of government that we have lived under for over 200 years.
It insults every American voter to do anything less.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.