By Daniel Dunaief
I want the weakest possible president in 2020.
As a representative democracy, the United States uses a system of governance that relies on checks and balances. Everything about the history of the country makes it clear that a collection of leaders, each with limited power, should reflect the diverse nature of the country, with states that have small populations getting equal representation in the Senate.
Whenever one of the three branches of government oversteps its bounds, the other two have the opportunity to keep that one in check. If, for example, the executive branch, through the president of the United States, takes actions that the legislative or executive branches find objectionable or questionable, Congress or the Supreme Court can hold that president accountable.
So, how do we ensure those checks and balances? Where do we find exactly the right kind of weak president who can do just his or her job without trying to tell the courts what to do or legislate new laws favorable to the officeholder?
Most presidents, including every candidate who seems to be running now, appear to be convinced that he or she will be a strong leader with a vision for the country that takes us to greater heights or that makes us a better nation.
That’s lovely, but no president can do it alone. The government should be a team effort, pulling together people with a drive to contribute to the world through public service and to represent not only personal opinions, but the values, goals and concerns of the entire nation.
That seems almost impossible, given the divided nature of the country as we enter the 2020 election, right? Someone is always winning and someone is always losing.
That doesn’t have to be the case if a president sees and understands the limits of their power.
While this may seem like a direct rebuke of President Donald Trump (R), it is not. If Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), who seems to be gaining momentum with each passing primary, wins the Democratic nomination and then becomes president, I don’t want him to be powerful, either.
Some of his ideas, like free college and Medicaid for all, seem compelling on the surface, but many Democrats, Republicans and Independents wonder how exactly he’ll pay for all of those ideas. I enjoy reading dystopian fiction, like “1984,” “The Giver,” and “Fahrenheit 451,” to name a few. The conclusions of all of them are that utopia doesn’t work and big government creates even bigger problems, particularly for the individual.
The idea of Medicaid for All may seem appealing because of the frustration so many people feel with their medical insurance, until they imagine the bureaucratic machine known as the federal government making decisions about their medical coverage. Many of us want to make informed choices.
That brings me back to the choice for president. In the next eight months or so, as we prepare for the onslaught of advertisements telling us how and why the other candidate may ruin our lives, We the People can do something about it. If we truly believe a Democrat will win the White House, we can vote for Republicans in Congress. If we believe Trump will continue to share his inspirational Twitter messages wishing everyone well — just a bit of sarcasm here — we should vote Democratic in all the other races.
I don’t want Sanders expanding government and running up a tab that even higher taxes seem incapable of paying, while I also don’t want Trump getting a free pass to follow his impulses where they take him and the rest of the country. For me, the best 2020 choice is a weak and controlled president.