Do any of you remember the now famous words spoken by a new president in his inaugural speech on January 20, 1961?
The new president was a young democrat by the name of John F. Kennedy.
The phrase? Just this:
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
What ever happened to that kind of thinking?
We’re just finishing up the first round of the election battle, the Iowa caucuses. With a record turnout, two immediate casualties, and a candidate who declared herself a winner even before all the votes were in (and she was in a virtual tie with her opponent), Iowa voters did their job well, and are now ready for a breather.
But I’m really concerned about the expectations of many of today’s voters. Not the democratic voters or their counterparts, the republicans, but today’s American voters.
What are they expecting from the government?
Has the government become the sugar daddy of society? I hear one person promise free schooling, and another counters with something else. It’s kind of like a back room game of poker; “I see your bet, and I raise you $500.”
“Whatever you want, vote for me and I’ll get it for you.”
Is that what we elect a president for?
I looked up the duties and responsibilities of the President of the United States, according to the US Constitution. Here is a condensed version found at jfklibrary.org.
The President’s Job According to the Constitution
The US Constitution contains the only official “job description” for the President of the United States. According to Article II, Sections 2 and 3, the President:
1) Is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States, and of each state’s militia when the nation has need of it
2) Has power to obtain information and opinions from heads of the executive departments
3) May grant pardons and reprieves for crimes against the United States
4) Makes treaties with other countries with the approval of the Senate
5) Appoints ambassadors, federal judges and heads of executive departments – all subject to the approval of the Senate; the President also has power to fill any vacancies that may happen while the Senate is in recess
6) Must report to Congress from time to time about the state of the union and recommend whatever measures he thinks are necessary
7) May call members of Congress together on extraordinary occasions, as well as adjourn their meetings when they cannot agree on their own about when to do this
8) Receives foreign ambassadors and other public officials
9) Is responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws
10) Issues commissions to all officers of the United States
Note, there isn’t one word about making sure the people are fat and happy.
Nothing about free lunches.
Not a word about policing the world, either.
If JFK had campaigned in today’s Iowa, I don’t believe he would have gotten as many votes as O’Malley or Gilmore; especially if he’d made the remark about doing something for the country.
Yes, I’m pleased that “my guy” won the republican side of things. But I’m still very much concerned with the focus of so many voters.
It’s why I am not optimistic about the November general election.
In the eyes of many, the role of the president is that of God. “Provide for me, give me what I want, make me comfortable, solve all my problems without it costing me any time, money, or sweat equity.”
We’ve taken the Oval Office and turned it into the throne room of God, and relegated God to some sort of backup quarterback. IF we get into trouble, we’ll look for His number…
I may be wrong; it wouldn’t be the first time. And I sincerely hope I am.
But so far, most of what I’m seeing and hearing isn’t very encouraging.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Psalm 33:12 ESV), and NOT anyone else.