Through the years, the holiday has been variously known as Washington’s Birthday, Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents Day, Presidents’ Day and President’s Day.
Back in the 1950’s there was an effort to make the holiday a celebration of the office of the presidency rather than a commemoration of any particular President. That idea got a push from commercial advertisers.
Today, the holiday is basically a day off of work for government employees and a day on which many businesses offer merchandise as bargain prices.
It’s safe to say that, these days, there is not a whole lot of enthusiasm in America for celebrating the office of the presidency. A few days ago, Intelligence Squared, an organization which sponsors public debates, hosted a debate entitled “Give Trump a Chance.”
The debaters were all serious, intelligent professionals. The audience was polled before the debate began. Only 27 percent agreed that he should be given a chance, while 48 percent disagreed. After the debate, they were polled again. This time, only 22 percent of the audience thought Trump should be given a chance, and a whopping 72 percent disagreed.
I suppose we can discount the numbers somewhat, since Intelligence Squared typically draws its audiences from among the academic and professional communities, which tend to be Democrat and Liberal.
Still, it is troubling to note that there is a large segment of the American people who not only do not like or support the current occupant of the White House; they adamantly oppose him and want him to fail.
It is hard to imagine how the United States of America might benefit by having a failed President in the White House. Why would any honest citizen cheer an increase in crime or unemployment? Why would anyone who loves this nation want to see its fortunes decline, its factories close, its jobs migrate to other countries?
The fact is that the success or failure of a President is tied to the prosperity and felicity of the nation. In my church, we pray for all of our elected officials, whether we voted for them not. Good citizens want their leaders to lead and to succeed.
The President of the United States is a constitutional officer. His powers and duties are specified in the charter of our nation. There is nothing in the law of the land which requires or anticipates that the President must be or will be a popular leader.
George Washington was popular, indeed, he was elected and reelected by unanimous votes in the Electoral College. He understood, however, that the power of a President does not come from his popularity.
There is a difference between power and authority. Political power flows from public opinion. It is ephemeral, fickle and fleeting. Authority comes from the Law. It is based on the formal consent of the governed, granted in writing and adopted by the people.
George Washington warned us that the Constitution must be obeyed as it was written, “unless and until it is altered by the explicit and authentic act of the whole people.”
Article II Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires the President to “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt appealed directly to the American People on the radio, there has been an increase of direct Presidential governance. Executive decisions, executive orders, and bureaucratic rule making take the place of legislative decision making.
President Trump would be well advised to leave policy making to the Congress. Maybe the nay sayers will agree to give Congress a chance.