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When the Buck Stops With POTUS People Lose

When the Buck Stops With POTUS People Lose

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Published by Gary Wood
Inspired by the book, Cult of the Presidency, we must stop looking to the presidency for help with every aspect of our lives. Obama claims 'the buck stops with me' and that is the wrong place for most bucks to stop. Federalism is disappearing before our eyes and has been for over a century.
Inspired by the book, Cult of the Presidency, we must stop looking to the presidency for help with every aspect of our lives. Obama claims 'the buck stops with me' and that is the wrong place for most bucks to stop. Federalism is disappearing before our eyes and has been for over a century.

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Published by: Gary Wood on Jun 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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When the buck stops with POTUS people losePres. Harry Truman made the phrase, “the buck stops here” famous. Pres. Obama hasembraced a similar stance with his often used “the buck stops with me” line. Everypresident between Truman and Obama have told the people the POTUS (President of theUnited States) is where the buck stops when it comes to many situations such as naturaldisasters, man created disasters, economic challenges, environmental concerns, andmore.According to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum the phrase was embraced by Truman when he received a sign for his desk. The library website shares the followingstory;
 The sign "The Buck Stops Here" that was on President Truman's desk in his White Houseoffice was made in the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma. Fred M. Canfil, thenUnited States Marshal for the Western District of Missouri and a friend of Mr. Truman, sawa similar sign while visiting the Reformatory and asked the Warden if a sign like it could bemade for President Truman. The sign was made and mailed to the President on October 2,1945. (“The Buck Stops Here” Desk Sign)
Coming out of World War II Americans were ready to embrace this message. From thetime of Teddy Roosevelt’s Bully Pulpit we have been taught our POTUS is the center of government for the people. “By the postwar era, Washington’s humble term “chief magistrate” could no longer adequately describe an office that in power andresponsibility had expanded far beyond Hamiltonian hopes or Jeffersonian fears.” (Healy,
The Cult of the Presidency,
2008, p. 79)History shows presidential power increased through usurpation during times of war.Both Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt knew many of their decisions were beyond theirconstitutional authority. The framers of the U.S. Constitution placed most of the powerin the Legislative Branch while far less power was conferred upon the Executive Branch.Perhaps they embraced the ides of executive prerogrative during emergencies assupported by John Locke.
But since a rational creature cannot be supposed, when free, to put himself in subjectionof another, for his own harm; (though where he finds a good and wise ruler, he may notperhaps think it either necessary or useful to set precise bounds to his power in all things)prerogative can be nothing, but the Peoples permitting their Rulers, to do several things of their own free choice, where the law was silent, and sometimes too against the directLetter of the Law for the publick good; and their acquiesing in it when so done… (
 Truman began a precedent of sending troops into harm’s way without requestingCongress to declare war by sending troops to the Korean Peninsula. On the heels of thisusurpation Americans were faced with a threat of attack during the Cold War.Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all helped the Executive Branch gain morepower. By 1973 the power of the presidency had grown to a point Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.wrote a book entitled
The Imperial Presidency 
. With the advent of Watergate and the
resignation of Pres. Richard Nixon many felt the usurped powers were no longer going tobe allowed. Congressional authority briefly came back into vogue. People lost hopethere was one man they could turn to and rely on to solve their daily needs.Constitutional checks and balances were nearly restored when it came to the Legislativeand Executive Branches of the federal government.We then experienced the Iran hostage crisis and the rise of Ronald Reagan’s appeal topatriotism. International crisis has always been a key ingredient for Americans acceptingan abuse of presidential power. A charismatic leader combined with an external threatequaled a resurgence of the Imperial President. “What began as emergency powerstemporarily confided to presidents soon hardened into authority claimed by presidentsas constitutionally inherent in the presidential office; thus the Imperial Presidency...Therise of the Imperial Presidency ran against the original intent of the Constitution.”(Schlesinger,
The Imperial Presidency 
, 2004, p. x) The original intent was to distribute power with the Legislative Branch, the people’sbranch, having responsibility for war, appropriations, the regulation of commerce, andmore based on the limited powers agreed upon by the several states. States were toretain power over daily concerns for life, liberty, and property based on the agreementsbetween the citizens of each state and their governing officials under their stateconstitutions. Today there are many crises both internationally as well as nationally. The growth of usurped power through appointment of czars, executive orders and signing statementsshows a systemic challenge growing between the Executive Branch, the LegislativeBranch, and the Constitution. Modern imperialism began in the latter days of the Clintonadministration, elevated to new levels with Bush, Cheney and the War on Terror, and isrising to even greater heights under the Obama Administration.As Gene Healy writes, “If the public expects the president to deal with all nationalproblems, physical or spiritual, then the president will seek – or seize – the powernecessary to handle that responsibility. We’re right to fear the growth of presidentialpower. But the Imperial Presidency is the price of making the office the focus of ournational hopes and dreams.” (Healy, 2009, p. 3) This belief by the people will become the path progressives will accept for the finaldestruction of constitutional order in our country. Today we the people are so acceptingof the notion it is the president’s job to handle all areas from the economy to healthcare; from natural and manmade disasters to the defense of democracy around theworld we do so without notice. Conservatives are as willing to turn to the president asliberals are. A self-governing society cannot sustain liberty if it willfully, unconsciouslygives away personal responsibility to a single person or the few people a president sayssociety should trust. The buck cannot continue to stop with the president if we the people are to maintainfreedom under a federalist republic. As long as we embrace the notion we are arepresentative democracy and our federal government, especially our president, should

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