Choosing a President and why?
It is extraordinarily important that one knows enough about history of the United States in particular, the founding generation, to be able to understand how the executive branch was developed. Furthermore, understanding what the U.S. British Colonies were being put through concerning taxes, harbor shutdowns, and vastly limiting not only the way of life but also the liberties these folds had enjoyed prior to their arrival in the U.S. or if they were citizens.
As mentioned in yesterday’s article was how the ranking system was based on how well the president when sworn into office, “to preserve, protect, and defend The Constitution of the United States” however now, it is when they are done or anytime during their administrations.
Easily a ranking of the presidents on that criteria listed above would be a bit more difficult. One should note that the historians would have to understand the proponents of the Constitution in 1787 and 1788 argued executive powers would be implemented once the Constitution was ratified. This measure was no easy feat.
To include this day, as well as back then, most people don’t. Certainly most historians have read the famous Federalists Papers or the essays, but the real debates took place in the ratifying conventions themselves and among less conspicuous but equally important members of the founding generation, men such as John Dickenson, Roger Sherman, James Wilson, James Iredell, William Richardson Davie, John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, and Edmund Randolph. These men argued that the president was not to be a king, nor would he have the power George III had in England.
With as much research, study, and recommended reading that has been done on this particular issue, there was not much around that believed in a monarchy. However, the understanding of the executive branch among most Americans – including historians – has been greatly distorted. We ask — what we think the president should do in office, not what he is constitutionally permitted to do in office. It is the latter that should be the measure of the man.
It has been suggested that under those criteria, the traditional presidential rankings should be inverted, with just a few exceptions. Interestingly, what I mean by inverted is generally those who have scored at the bottom of the lists tended to hew to greater constitutional restraint than those at the top of the lists.
If we judge presidents not on their policies or ideas, but simply on their actions measured against the definition of the office of president in the Constitution, mind you as it was sold to reluctant delegates at the state ratifying conventions and in the press, then the “great” executives look more like John Tyler or Calvin Coolidge than Franklin Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln.
We may admire the policy outcomes of the anointed great presidents — indeed some of these policies have had a dramatic and beneficial effect on American society — but that does not mean these men were adhering to their oath.
Potential executive abuse was one of the most feared results of the ratification of the Constitution. The founding generation considered an out-of-control executive to be the greatest curse to liberty.