In no more than a few weeks now Republican Mitt Romney will reveal to the country his selection for a vice-presidential running mate. For virtually the first time in his campaign, then, Romney will be forced to commit to a decision that both defines him and his vision for the future.
Will he touch off an energetic American renewal, tapping the young U.S. Sen. from Florida, Marco Rubio, or U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin–perhaps even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie? Or will he stay truer to form, sharing the Republican ticket with a steady, measured man like Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), or former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty?
Image management is the name of this game. In past presidential cycles, a state by state comparison of available electoral votes might have determined the choice; and running mates would have been expected to deliver in their home states, likely swing states. But such calculations have proven unreliable; and an evaluation of the readiness of a prospective running mate to assume the role of president has now come to the fore.
In reality, even this criterion is a specious one: No specific experience, nor any particular quality beyond soundness of judgment, is required for almost any elective office. Every situation arises with a unique array of considerations; and every sitting president works with a new Congress, for a transitioning electorate, in a changed and changing world.
President Obama has proven ineffectual, not because he lacks any backroom familiarity with the functioning of government, nor any grasp of foreign affairs; but largely because his judgment is hampered by his arrogant personality. Though he makes clippy speeches that decry racial and class inequalities, his first-term agenda, if one can call it that, was equal parts timid and divisive.
This underlying, millenias-old pretense–that special qualities and unique experiences distinguish only a privileged few for high office–would finally, in a direct democracy, be put to a much-needed rest. The judgment of Pres. Obama has revealed itself to be no less flawed than any other man’s, his arrogance no better. Such has been the case with most of history’s leaders.
Nevertheless, the direct democracy presented here, a decentralized system, does not contemplate replacing the executive branch, or yet the office of the president, with any popular-vote-directed administering of affairs. Quite to the contrary: Each presidential candidate would, in fact, be required to include upon the party ticket a selection for Attorney General as well.
Our Attorney General, even today, is intended to be the People’s lawyer, our chief American law enforcement officer, not a counsel for the President. In the proffered direct democracy, where the President may be replaced two years into a four-year term–either by the Vice President, or by the Attorney General–the office of the Attorney General becomes an all but co-equal with, and a very real legal constraint upon, the office and the power of the presidency:
Or the People may, after two years of the existing four-year term, in the summer electoral initiative, replace the current President when, between an option to retain the status quo, an option to remove the President in order that the Vice President may become President, and an option to remove the President in order that the Attorney General may become President, one of the latter two options receives an aggregate of fifty-one percent of votes cast for the office among at least ninety-five percent of the precincts of the United States.
(from Article II: Section 4)
Trained in the letter and the spirit of the law, and added to the line of presidential succession, the Attorney General is further directed to transfer the former duties of the Congress to the executive administration and to watch over their stewardship as an equal partner to the President and to the state Governors:
Amendment XI – The power to appropriate revenues and the exercise of oversight, investigative and regulatory authority formerly delegated to the United States Congress by the original Constitution, where not previously delegated by the former, shall be delegated by the Attorney General to, and in turn by, the appropriate executive appointees, whose official acts may be halted by the President, the Attorney General, or by a three-fifths majority of the Governors, when deemed unlawful, wasteful or predominantly political in nature…
Under such a triumvirate system of executive administration, the People retain, not only the recourse of replacing any one of their elected or appointed officers, but also the benefit of a powerful, accountable representative, whose honor and judgment may be weighed prior to the election of the administration. Should a presidential candidate then select for that position a person of questionable integrity, the People could, and likely would, turn their support to the ticket of an opponent.
And if his integrity proved insufficient only after the election, not only are the Governors equally empowered to check the executive administration themselves; but the People may also replace the Attorney General with an individual of their own choosing in the next summer electoral initiative:
Every public official within the United States but the President, either elected or appointed by an elected officer, may be replaced in a summer electoral initiative when, among an option of any precinct-certified candidates who meet all other qualifications for the office of an incumbent, an option to require the immediate replacement of an appointee by the appointer, where applicable, and an option to retain the status quo, one of the two former options receives an aggregate of fifty-one percent of votes cast for said office, among at least ninety-five percent of precincts subject to its oversight and authority. Nor shall the aforementioned appointer during the existing term remove the duly-elected replacement-appointee from office, unless for misconduct therein; though all public officials may be replaced in any electoral initiative when a vacating of their offices for any other reason shall have necessitated a special election.
(from Article I: Section 4)