President’s Day. A day where Americans remember the great leaders of the past: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Reagan. Originally, the roots of the holiday stem from the celebration of George Washington’s birthday. Today, the day serves as a general celebration of all past US presidents. In modern times, the US president arguably serves as the single most powerful individual in the entire world. At his disposal are unequaled military capabilities, political clout, and quasi-legislative powers complimented with enforcement powers. The office attracts a certain type of person seeking such enormous authority. The US president is not the same office of the past and continually centralizes more authority with more potential for abuse and corruption.
Ideally, the separation of powers limits the authority of the president. With legislative powers strictly confined to the Congress, the president could not make law, only enforce it. However, today the US president governs with much more authority. The federal bureaucracy, under control of the president’s executive authority, makes regulations that have the force of law. This essentially neuters Congress as a lawmaking body, centralizing an enormous amount of power into the presidency. Regulatory agencies have transformed the president into a person with nearly limitless power. Such power no doubt carries with it nearly limitless opportunity for corruption and abuse. In fact, studies have shown that political power is as addictive to the human brain as cocaine or other dopamine enhancing drugs.
What should we celebrate on President’s Day? A better question: why do we even celebrate an institution where the norm is corruption, micromanagement, and oppression? Regardless of political party–both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of empowering the state to lord over the rights of the individual–the president’s imperial authority operates well outside the restraints of the Constitution and principles grounded in ethics, preferring the violence of state power over peaceful and spontaneous order of liberty. President Obama has averaged adding over 3,500 pages a year to the Code of Federal Regulations. In reference to the former point above, the president has become an office for dysfunctional addicts yearning for the next “hit”, just one more law, just one more rule…Craving the mental satisfaction of controlling other people’s lives may have something to do with the rapid expansion of modern government.
The current president embodies perfectly everything wrong with the presidency itself. Whether selling guns to Mexican drug cartels or illegally harassing politically Conservative groups with the IRS, Obama has shown the nation where extraordinary levels of presidential power can lead. Modern politicians crave this cocaine-like high from exerting dominance over other people. Aside from simply impeding sustainable economic growth with senseless regulations, presidential power can corrupt a moral individual and amplify existing faults in those already corrupted. Ideally, the president should be stripped of his powers of executive fiat, but that is not likely to happen any time in the near future.