The President Is Not My Leader

Yesterday at work, a co-worker made the following statement. “I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, but I don’t dislike him. Actually, I think he deserves our respect. Even though I don’t agree with the things he does, he is still our leader. We elected him and we need to encourage him to do a good job.”

I couldn’t disagree more. Not because I have a special bone to pick with Barack Obama, but because there hasn’t been a president in my lifetime truly worthy of  respect.

Reagan ran on a small-government platform. He campaigned on personal liberties, free markets, and the Constitution. That all sounds good. Yet, while in office he ran huge budget deficits, engaged in covert wars against tiny countries without getting declarations of war from the Congress, and supported Sadaam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. He invaded Lebanon for no good reason.  He spent us into oblivion to defeat a Soviet Union that was on the verge of collapsing by itself anyways. Due to the cold-war arms and military build up, we’re now saddled with a Military-Industrial complex that seems impossible to roll back. His actions resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people around the world and the destruction of untold amounts of property.

George Bush I promised not to raise taxes during his campaign. He famously said “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Once in office, he promptly raised taxes to some of the highest levels in recent memory. He invaded Iraq for no good reason whatsoever. Iraq was not threatening the United States in any way. Operation Desert Storm led to the needless deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people. To top it off, he left the ruthless dictator Sadaam Hussein in power after the war. Sadaam continued to terrorize the Iraqi population for years to come.

Bill Clinton was embroiled in a number shameful scandals. Before becoming president of the United States, Clinton was involved in a series of seedy business deals. One such deal was Whitewater, where he used his influence as Governor of the state of Arkansas for personal, financial gain. Clinton engaged in sexual activity with a White House intern and then lied about it under oath. The Clinton Administration pursued a campaign of crippling sanctions against Iraq that led to the starvation of 500,000 Iraqi children. The anger over this program contributed directly to the 9/11 attacks. Trying to kill Osama bin Laden, Clinton accidentally blew up a medicine factory in Sudan that deprived the people of that country needed medication and lead to the death of innocent civilians.

George Bush II ran record deficits. He took the country into two wars that couldn’t be won. The second Iraq war had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 and in fact, certain advisers to George Bush Jr. had been planning an Iraq war since 1998. Bush blatantly lied the country into Operation Iraqi Freedom. His administration did an embarrassingly bad job planning for and executing the war. Estimates put the cost of the Iraq war at $3 Trillion, most of it borrowed and therefor added to the national debt. The war led to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and caused even more hatred of the United States in the Middle East. Bush crafted and lobbied for the passage of the damnable Patriot Act which seriously infringes upon our rights to privacy and due process. Bush Jr. was the key architect of the No Child Left Behind act which centralized and greatly expanded the public education bureaucracy. He was also responsible for a huge prescription drug welfare scheme which continues to be a tremendous subsidy to the pharmaceutical industry and likely added $10 Trillion to the country’s unfunded liabilities.

Barack Obama promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay. He hasn’t. Barack Obama promised not to grant retroactive immunity to the Telecoms for spying on Americans. He then went against his promise and voted for immunity. He  supports of the Patriot Act. Obama continues to run $1 Trillion deficits year after year. He has conducted predator drone missions against Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, countries with whom the United States is not officially at war. These drone campaigns have led to the death of thousands of innocent civilians. Obama sent American troops to participate in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya without a declaration of war from Congress. He is promoting crippling sanctions against Iran which will inflame the people of that country against us and cause unjust suffering among the civilian population. Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, is aggressively prosecuting medical marijuana users in the state of California which is a direct violation of both civil liberties and state’s rights.

How can I possibly respect any of these people as my leader? They’re all despicable,

A couple of years back I got into a conversation with a co-worker. This guy was a devout Christian, a talented computer programmer, and a hard core Democrat. He voted for Obama and was very supportive of Obama’s policies.

I asked him how a Christian can vote for any president in good conscience. The person who occupies that office knows going in that they’ll have to lie, cheat, steal, spy, kill innocent civilians, deceive the American people, and carry out all types of immoral acts. Isn’t the Christian religion one of moral absolutism? Aren’t powerful people just as responsible for upholding the commandants of God as the meek? If the President of the United States knowingly sins, is he exempt from God’s wrath?

My co-worker, a bit stunned, asked how a president can possibly avoid the contradiction.

The answer is simple, he can’t. There is only one solution, don’t become the president. Nobody is forced to be the president. An individual doesn’t suddenly become the president by surpise. They dedicate their whole life to it for years and years. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars campaigning. They do this specifically because they want the power and prestige of the office.

For that reason, no president is worthy of my respect. I only respect honest, peaceful, and productive individuals. True leaders lead by example not by force. Dignified leaders don’t kill, spy, and destroy. They create, they inspire, and they face challenges with courage and honor.

My dad is such a person. So is my mom. So is my wife. So is my brother. So are so many other people that I admire and follow voluntarily.

The President is not one of those people. No matter who he is.


9 Responses to The President Is Not My Leader

  1. MichaelEdits says:

    Barack Obama is my leader, which is why I voted for him again yesterday.

  2. Hi Adam. I agree that the President is not my leader, but my reason has to do with principle, not with which particular person is President at any given time.

    In our system of government, the President is the administrator of the executive branch of government. The government is a subset of our overall society, and the government exists by the consent of the governed. Government employees, including the President, are public servants. Americans, taken as a whole, are the leaders of the government. The President works for us. He is not our leader. He is who we have “hired” to administer the subset of our society called government.

    In the United States of America, the sovereignty rests with the people, not the government. If We The People lose sight of that proper order of things, we run the risk of being turned topsy-turvy into a different kind of country. Many people might THINK they would like such a country, and a few actually would like it. But I believe most of us would not ACTUALLY like it if it came to pass.

    • First of all, thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Yes, I understand the theory behind how the executive branch of government is supposed to work. However, I must disagree wholeheartedly with your assertion that in the United States, or anywhere else in the world really, that ” the government exists by the consent of the governed” and that ” the sovereignty rests with the people”. There is so much that our government does that I do not consent to: war, torture, spying, ridiculous welfare schemes etc. and there is no way for me to opt out of the situation. If I, one of the people, were truly sovereign, I’d be able to execute my will. That is clearly not the case. So, while our current system is certainly better than many others, it is by no means the be all end all of proper government. In my opinion, no government can be considered just unless a citizen has a right to secede without having to relocate geographically. Then and only then could you speak of the sovereignty of the people.

      • Adam, wouldn’t that be anarchy? How could there even be a society if it’s all a “free for all.” There are something like 320 million Americans now. How can the government enact 330 million different sets of policies, in order to individually please each of its citizens? I don’t understand the practical theory that underpins your desired scenario. You said yourself that there is no place in the world that operates the way you wish. That may be because it’s impossible. Are you just venting? Or do you have an innovative new gov’t system in mind that can actually work the way you envision, where every citizen in a society gets to feel like their government responds to their individual wishes and never does anything they personally disapprove of? I don’t see how that could work for societies with more than about 10 people in them.

        Going back to my phrases you disagreed with: My response it that there’s a difference between a government that EXISTS by the consent of the governed (my assertion), and a government whose every ACTION must have the consent of each individual member of the governed (your assertion). Ancient Greece was the best historical examples of an attempt at pure democracy, and it didn’t work. There’s a saying that “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.” That saying is a perfect illustration why there are natural, inevitable reasons why different people want different things.

  3. Thank you again for your thoughtful response. No, it wouldn’t necessarily be anarchy. Or if it were, it would likely be temporary and on a small scale. Personally, I would prefer to only participate in my city government. I almost never leave a 5 block by 5 block area. We pay a small sales tax an I am alright with that. State and federal services are utterly useless for me and actually harm my sense of well being and material prosperity. I don’t want their services and don’t feel that I should be forced to participate. I’m dead serious about that, not just venting. However, my position is not strictly anarchistic. It is the logical conclusion of the notion of the consent of the governed. I only consent to a very limited local government. Anything else is forced on me and I would prefer not to have it. Or, if I am to travel outside of my city, charge me tolls or send me a bill so that I can make a choice about whether to participate.

    You are conflating government and society, which is clearly false and inappropriate. I direct you to any online dictionary definition of society and government. Society is generally described as any voluntary and friendly relationship between individuals or groups of individuals. Therefor social behavior can be described as friendly, voluntary, mutually beneficial. Government is usually defined as an agency that has control, is the authority, and directs or enforces certain behaviors. It easy to see that government and society are almost opposites in terms of their definitions. One definition involves freedom, voluntary interaction, and amiable relationships. The other force and control.

    To think about it a different way, which would you say came first? Society or government? Were people interacting voluntarily, were traditions and norms being developed, was society functioning before the existence of political states and governments? Of course they were. In fact, in the American sense, government was created to suppress anti-social behavior, to eliminate any actions that weren’t strictly based on voluntary consent such as theft and violence. But the key question is this: what is to be done when the government itself acts in a way that is anti-social? What to do when the government is the principal robber and perpetrator of violence.

    In fact, the most murderous outrages in the history of the world have been carried out by rogue governments and many times with the consent of the majority. What is the minority to do in such situations? Should their rights be protected? The notion of the consent of the majority can easily morph into the famous tyranny of the majority.

    It is explicitly stated in our founding documents that any person or group of people have the right to throw off an existing government and form their own. To deny that is to sound the death knell of a free society and to make a laughingstock of a noble idea: the consent of the governed. But this only works if each individual is the arbiter of their own fortune and is allowed the right to choose, without any restriction whatsoever, who they will be governed by or if they will be governed at all.

    There are various examples of this. Of course, the American colonists threw off the English yoke. Many states, Pennsylvania perhaps being the leading example, lived in a state of almost total anarchy and yet Philadelphia came to be one of the leading cities in the colonies. It is where the constitution was ratified and where many of our founding fathers resided. Again, society and government are not the same. Pennsylvania was a fully functioning society, without a government.

    Finally, just because something hasn’t happened, or perhaps can’t happen, doesn’t mean that it isn’t an ideal worth striving after. World peace, the elimination of hunger, the end of child abuse, and the list goes on, may not be realizable in this imperfect world that we live in. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t recognize the superiority of such a world, could it exist. It doesn’t mean that we can’t set those goals as our lodestar and strive towards them. If you truly believe in the consent of the governed, then a world in which each individual can choose for themselves which political arrangement they belong to must be your guiding light.

    • I think we agree that the federal gov’t has gotten insanely out of control, grotesquely bloated, and bullyingly forceful in putting its foot on the neck of everything and everyone that walks & breathes in this country. But it sounds like even if it had stayed strictly within the original bounds described in the Constitution, you would still object to the federal government’s existence. For example, the Constitution authorizes a standing military and gives the commander in chief authority over that military. It appears you would want each citizen to have authority to consent in advance to every action of that military.

      I can’t yet tell if you object to the Constitution itself, or you object to the unconstrained growth of the gov’t that has occured way beyond the intent of the founders. It seems we’re somewhat coming from the same “region” of opinion, but I’m not willing to swim in pure libertarian spring water up to my neck…I’m only comfortable wading in up to my knees. 🙂

      I agree that gov’t & society are not the same thing. The “You Didn’t Build That” viewpoint from President Obama and his ilk sickens me. I intend to post to my own blog about that, hopefully today. I just started the site recently. If you will allow me to mention…it’s at

      Take care, Adam.

      • You are a good man Jeff and I bet we would agree on 95% of issues. It is in my nature to tread in the deep end but I acknowledge that it isn’t for everybody. I prefer the articles of confederation to the constitution but would probably be willing to participate if the constitution were strictly adhered too. But that doesn’t appear to be an option. I read the article on your blog and really enjoyed it. Look for some comments from me soon. Keep up the good work my friend.


  4. Pingback: Are Society And Government The Same? « Life, Love, and Liberty

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