Sunday, January 6, 2008

Returns to Normalcy

My new mental exercise is try to imagine how we will view the current point in American history fifty or a hundred years in the future. I studied American history extensively a couple years ago, and as I have been recalling the analyses of different elections, I cannot help but feel like this is the kind of election that ought to be a "return to normalcy." The Bush Administration has been with us since 9/11, and presided over the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and the firing of justices for political purposes, among other events. Before that, we had the Lewinsky scandal during Bill Clinton's administration. To me, this is time to return to a President who serves the Congress, rather than one who cuts off relations with it.

Unfortunately, I don't see any of the candidates as returns to normalcy. Barack or Hilary would bring about radical change to our perception of the Oval Office, Huckabee wants to overthrow the tax system, Ron Paul wants to overthrow everything, and Guiliani would be a return to 9/11. Could Edwards or Romney be returns to normalcy? Am I wrong in thinking that we even need a return to normalcy - e.g., do the actions of recent Presidents merit the election of someone who isn't a middle aged white guy?

3 comments:

Zach Piso said...

It's been a long time since we've had a president who primarily serves Congress, since FDR in my opinion. While at several times it may look this way (AKA LBJ during the Great Society Era, when most of the Civil Rights legislation passed), I feel that it is normally Congress simply following the policy initiatives suggest by the Chief Legislator.

Think about it. Truman continued the New Deal. Eisenhower... well nothing happened during his reign anyway (being in the same "extensive history class" I figure you'll agree). Kennedy had his own scandals, we just won't know them since the Democrats have depicted that ghost so gloriously. After the aforementioned LBJ, we have Nixon (no comment necessary), Carter (huge failure by most accounts, though this was the fault of) Reagan, who Republicans have similarly characterized but didn't exactly get away with Iran-Contra.

I actually think you're quick to attack Clinton, he worked pretty well with Congress and if any candidate could erase the national debt like he did, we could really talk economics. Maybe since Bush Sr. was the peak of the first debt (which was the fault of Reagonomics cough cough) and Billy erased it... Maybe Chelsea should erase Bush Jr's? I'd think that Clinton would be an easier pill to swallow than the one that is actually on the ballot.

Anyway, since the bully pulpit of TR, Presidencies have taken a new form. Congress is full of idiots, debating the viability of two year terms in such competitive, time intensive election processes is another topic. Still, I agree entirely with electing whoever isn't a middle aged white guy. Just make sure the slogan is "No middle aged white guy, and no way in hell Hilary!"

Pete Abbate said...

Well spoken about the evolution of the President beyond the servant of Congress. Regarding Clinton, I'm not attacking his policies or anything like that, mostly the Lewinsky scandal that marked the end of his Presidency. To me, a return to normalcy would include a President who isn't involved in any personal scandals, in addition to a President who doesn't suspend the rights of his constituents. Clinton did work well with Congress and eliminate the debt - if the next President, Clinton or otherwise, could accomplish the same results, then that to me would be a return.

Zach Piso said...

Eh, your simply choosing your poisons. I'd take a president "not having sexual relations" with Lewinsky over Watergate or Iran-Contra any day. "Normalcy" can't be described as a presidency with no failures, since in this day and age that won't happen. The media is simply going to spin something into a story.

If by "normalcy" you mean "undo the irregularities of previous presidents", I'd agree it is necessary, although the throne isn't necessarily ripe for such action. Most of the expansion of presidential power (i.e. the Patriot Act, or declaring war without Congress's consent) are just that, aspects of a power hungry leader. I can't imagine any of the candidates not being power hungry, since a "Change" campaign inherently requires the power to create policy. We'd need a rather modest leader, and the public has been choosing bold and brash since Reagan (and really, all the way back to Kennedy). I just don't see it happening.

By the way, if a candidate ran on the ticket of repealing the Patriot Act, he'd (grudge... or she'd) get my vote.

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty