Alexander Hamilton spoke about the reactive ingredients of populist sentiment during times of crisis. The people will allow, perhaps demand expanded government and the government will gladly respond. The problem is, the government rarely contracts once the crisis is over. There is a pattern of assumed power that never fully gets annulled after the crisis ends.
We recognize our vulnerabilities as citizens in times of crisis, vulnerabilities that political demagogues know how to exploit. Passion during a crisis is not political, it is human nature. But the exploitation of a crisis is political.
Today we need leaders committed to the principles of liberty and a version of power described in the Constitution, representatives who possess a true affection for freedom and who will lead with an insistence that the people and nation come first.
However, our form of government has been fundamentally misaligned with its founding principles. The American president has become the “leader of the free world” and “party leader” as we morph closer to nationalism and further away from federalism. The roles of Congress, the judiciary and the states have all relinquished many of their duties to Washington’s executive branch.
The founding fathers documented an American president as the nation’s chief of state, as its symbolic head. The president was never intended to be the head of a political party or ideology. In a divisive, winner-take-all mentality, where the president is “campaigner in chief” we now have a political system that has virtually eliminated the ability of a president to respond in nonpartisan terms. Both in the White House and in Congress every decision is determined by political benefit.
Our governmental process has jumped the track, we have created a political split that needs to be healed. COVID-19 has provided us with an opportunity to restore our government and the presidency back to the principals outlined in the U.S. Constitution. We need to return to that institution that deliverers stability and calm, not authority and panic.
Then, and only then, would we see a Congress that would resume its intended responsibilities: balance and oversight. Then, states would be newly empowered to make local, independent decisions—free from the threat of political retribution. Then, we would see a return to a more dignified office of the president, elevated to protect the unity, the welfare and liberty of a nation.
After all the Constitution was written, “… to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
Maybe we need a “Do-Over.”