By Sam Burnham
We are rapidly approaching the transfer of power. This transfer will mark the ending of the presidency of Barack Obama. This is not a political piece per se. I don't want to hash out his policies or even discuss his philosophies or actions while in office. I want to ask you to look at two pictures and then consider, from a standpoint of humanity, my ideas about the constitutional limits of the executive.
Here we have a picture of Senator Obama, shortly before he was elected as the 44th President of the United States. You see a young man. His face is vibrant and filled with the bright hope that he mentioned so often in his campaign. His head is covered with dark hair. He is the embodiment of the generation who brought him to power - youth rising to oppose the establishment of of aged politicians and leading the nation into the future.
And then last night, the president stood before a gathered crowd to deliver his farewell address. In the picture to the left, we see a very different figure. I realize that the expressions are not the same but really look at him. We see a gray haired man who appears to have aged more than eight years. His face has lines that were not there before. His eyes may still project hope but they do so from lids that are far more tire than they were when his administration began.
And it's not just Barack Obama. Making a similar comparison between he two immediate predecessors will yield similar results. But let's focus on the current office holder. Let's look at him as a human. Let's see the physical external effects of the office and contemplate what might be happening internally. This about his stress levels. Think about blood pressure, elevateed risks of stroke and heart attack. Think about possible panic attacks that go on in corners of the White House that aren't in the public view. This about what this man's life is like late at night when no one is watching.
And then answee this question: what have we done to this man?
I believe, after pondering this question, my answer is that we have centralized executive power to the point that the job of president is not one that can be conducive to the health of any one man. I think we have taken too much responsibility and and stress and put it into one seat. At that point the idea of a constitutionally limited executive becomes not only a matter of liberty but also of humanity. We cannot continue to inflate this role and erode the health of the office holders on this level, not and call ourselves humane.
Just a thought for this week...before this newly aged man hands over the reins of the executive over to a 70 year old.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire