Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Most Powerful Man in the World

You might have guessed it. The title of this post is a commonly heard phrase which means the President of the United States of America. And if you did guess it, that is the problem I want to discuss here...the fact that such a phrase is so common and well-known.

Yes, I see it as a problem. We have equated the position of President as being a position so powerful that whoever is granted such a position is deemed the most powerful person on the planet.

Granted, the U.S. has one of the strongest militaries, if not THE strongest military in the world and the President is Commander-in-Chief of that military. So, naturally, it is assumed that the leader of a country which has such strength would be the strongest leader in the world, right?

This is where I think the problem might be and I think it’s two-fold:

1. A lot of people assume the President of the U.S. is the leader of the nation (I have been guilty of this myself) and he/she is not.

2. Power was something of concern (and rightfully so) to the Founding Fathers of the U.S. and, as such, power was placed in check by the laws of the Constitution.

For purposes of length, I will address #1 in my next post. I will address #2 right now.

"Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely" ~ Lord Acton. This is a very well known quote for a reason, because it often ends up being accurate. In writings of the Founding Fathers, they seem to have been aware of this.

Their writings also seem to indicate a concern of such power as one of the reasons, if not THE reason why they divided the federal government of the U.S. into three branches, with each branch being able to check the other. That’s not even counting term limits on two of the three and the granting of positions in those branches being done by someone else, including by The People themselves.

Absolute power, if power at all, has no place in a free country, except with that of the individual. The more powerful those that run the government become, the less powerful we The People become. I think we need to remember this the next time we spout off that the President is the most powerful man/woman in the world.

Perhaps the reason the President is the most powerful man in the world is because we The People are the ones giving him that power by allowing him to break free of the constraints that are suppose to be placed on him by the Constitution. Perhaps it’s time the President of the U.S. once again begin acting within those confines and doing the duties charged to him by those confines – and only those duties, thereby keeping his power in check.

Another quote I like is one you can find right on the front page of this blog:

"You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself" ~ Leonardo da Vinci