Hail To The Chief!

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

After eight years of W, the nation is simply thrilled that the government will finally work again.

We don't like to think about it, but America is pretty much an elective monarchy. The executive branch has so much latitude when it comes to taking "care that the laws be faithfully executed," that we might as well call the guy at the top the term-limited King of the United States.

People are hopeful about Obama not because of his soaring rhetoric, but because it seems like he's approaching the job as a President rather than an autocrat.

He shows every sign of actually wanting to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," a line I keep lifting from our constitution. Obama likes to talk about getting people more engaged with the political process, but if he's successful as President then we'll all become less engaged, courtesy of the fact that our country is now being ruled by adults.

Before I was born, a guy named Reagan said "the government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem." He meant that the Federal government had grown too big and unwieldy. But for the last eight years, the government has been the problem in a different kind of way: the executive branch wasn't doing its darned job.

And I'm not even talking about FEMA's, "heckuva job, Brownie," disastrous response to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, or the botched invasion of Iraq.

I mean smaller things, like the Interior Department giving timber companies free reign to cut down the trees it's supposed to be protecting. Like the Labor Department doing its best not to enforce our labor laws. Or an Environmental Protection Agency that BLOCKS states from regulating greenhouse gas emissions that come from new cars and trucks. The EPA under Bush has been especially ridiculous, with multiple lawsuits coming from states, one of which went all the way to the Supreme Court, to get the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY to regulate greenhouse gases. The EPA, of course, did its best to not comply with that ruling.

I don't know if the last eight years have been tragedy or farce, probably both.

But I do know the Bush years have made my generation politically aware. I think the greatest hope President Obama brings is the prospect that we won't have to worry so much about politics anymore, or at least that we won't have to fret because the executive branch agencies are no longer being run by knuckleheads.

Now that's the audacity of hope.

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