Ummm…

I’m not sure off the top of my head how many presidents have publicly mused about the temptation to sidestep the laws that placed them into office in order to do things their own way rather than work within the system of checks and balances.  And I’m not sure how many have justified their public musing on the idea of “bypassing” Congress to elicit applause and encouragement from the very voters they should be educating on the reasons for checks and balances.  

I can only hope that it’s lots and lots.  Otherwise, this clip really frightens me.  I found the full speech just to see what he says after the sound bite clip shown above.  If you want to hear the rest of the speech (or the entire speech), you can click here.  
Adding to my disturbment is that he doesn’t explain that his sentiment is misplaced.  He doesn’t lead the hearers back from the edge of self-righteous indignation or revolutionary fervor.  He doesn’t demonstrate any awareness that the freedom he’s opining about is problematic.  He states that the Constitution doesn’t allow him to bypass Congress.  He doesn’t indicate whether he’s in agreement with that limitation or not.  It is left as more of a “I would if I could” sort of expression.  And that’s problematic for me as a hearer/voter/citizen.
The idea of checks and balances is not to make everything easier.  Lord knows it would be easier to act unilaterally, and I’m sure every president and legislator has privately harbored those sentiments at one point or another in their career.  The idea of checks and balances is to prevent the likely-misguided notion that any one person (or one group of people) has The Answer, and everyone else is completely wrong.  Checks and balances exist both at the legislative level, and hopefully at the level of ego as well, constantly reminding the men and women we entrust to public office that they do not have all the answers, and that even if they do, the process of governance is far more important than the particular outcomes of governance.  We are free to make poor decisions together.  Making poor decisions together is far better than any one person (or group of people) making correct decisions unilaterally.
That’s our system.  That’s our philosophy of governance.  It may not be the best one or most perfect one – which is why the American Democracy is traditionally referred to as an “experiment”.  But to publicly joke about the desire to scuttle the experiment without clarifying your actual support of the experiment, that’s dangerous.  
Unless, as I said earlier, lots of other people have done it.  In which case, I’ll look forward to all sorts of references to political quotes of all stripes (United States elected officials only, please).  And frankly I’ll be more relieved to see them, so I’ll know that perhaps this one shouldn’t be taken so seriously.  

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