Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If I Were President - Radical Ethos

Disclaimer: I know I'm never going to be President of the United States, nor would I truly want to be. I also know much of what I'm going to say in this hypothetical musing is impractical and improbable to say the least. Get over it.

Since I'm so good at criticizing politicians it is fair if once in a while I make an attempt to say what I would do in their place. This is too big a subject to cover in one post, but I'm not starting a series here either. So no promises about regular posting on this topic. As I feel moved I will throw out posts to elaborate on different political topics and the approach I would take, hypothetically, if I were President. Feel free to call me crazy in the comment threads.

In this first post I want to talk about the "ethos" of my presidency.

As president I would not spend one second of one day thinking about re-election or anyone else's election. I would forbid my staff and anyone in my vicinity from conducting, following, analyzing or discussing polls. I would expect to be committing political suicide and would therefore waste no time wondering if I could do things to make others happier.

In keeping with this ethos I would not spend very much effort attempting to feign bi-partisanship, or partisanship for that matter. I would make my intentions very clear and then invite any who want to help to join paying no attention to their political affiliations, and dare any who oppose me to do their best. I would expect to fail on a number of my initiatives and therefore wouldn't promise much except absolute integrity.

There would be no half-measures. I would not wait for the opportune moment, or avoid politically sensitive matters, or accept bad compromises. In fact, I would intentionally over shoot hoping reality to come closer to my actual goals than if I were to approach them hesitantly. I would attempt to outrun, out-think, and out-flank my detractors by simply overwhelming them with so much to get in a tizzy about that they wouldn't know where to begin. I would ambush the country with ideas so radical that for 50 years we would elect hippies believing them to be conservative.

I would be relentless in attacking bad policies on moral grounds. I would not cede the conversation about morality to those obsessed with gay marriage, but would ceaselessly confront congress about poverty, warfare, and greed. I would readily accept criticism made on similar grounds of my own behavior. I would apologize publicly and frequently.

Essentially, I would strive to absolutely flabbergast everyone. In fact, that is the plan because I would use that shock and surprise to reorient expectations. I would make swift and liberal use of presidential powers such that my successors could work for decades to undo it all and not finish. I would consider it an experiment in politics divorced from cynical realism; an attempt to see whether it is possible to shake the rust off of our system of government and actually accomplish meaningful change.

You want examples? You'll have to wait for my next post.

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