It has been awhile, but back when I was in school, taking government in high school, political science in college, and constitutional law in law school, I was taught about the three branches of government, being the executive, legislative, and judicial. As far as I know, that has not changed.
Knowing about the three branches, most political advertisements for the presidential election campaign make little sense to me.
For example, the women in ads telling me that if Governor Romney wins the election they won’t be able to practice birth control or take care of their gynecological health ought to read the Constitution. The President, even if he does not want to fund Planned Parenthood, has several layers of government to contend with.
First, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit corporation. Whether or not it receives government grants depends on the budget passed by Congress, which is comprised of the Senate and House of Representatives. The President can’t get up in the morning and cut off its funding. He can recommend it, but not actually control it. Also, even if Planned Parenthood loses government funding, as a private non-profit corporation, it charges for its services and it gets donations from private contributions. It does not have to close its doors if Romney wins the election.
Second, even if Romney does not like the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade, concerning abortion, he will not have the power to overturn it. The Supreme Court has to do that and it has already had nearly 40 years to do so but has not. The most a president can do is appoint Justices to the Court in the event of vacancies. Those appointments are subject to the approval of the Senate.
Third, in America, women have the opportunity to choose doctors for their health care even without Planned Parenthood.
That is just one issue. Another is taxation. Similarly, whoever is elected cannot on his own raise or lower taxes. Nor is the President the person who sets gasoline prices charged at service stations.
What presidents CAN do is promote policies and legislation that affect healthcare, the budget, taxation, energy and the military, among other things. What presidents can do is offer effective (or ineffective) leadership. Presidents can try to persuade Congress to pass budgets, approve appointments, and pass legislation (new laws). Presidents have to provide leadership in times of crises.
I recommend to the campaign managers and the candidates that they talk about the kind of leader the person running is, what he wants to accomplish, and what he believes. Avoid saying things like, “When I am elected, I will (fill in the blank, e.g. reduce the deficit, end abortions, fix whatever…).” He cannot control everything. He is not running for dictator. That is by design. Read the Constitution of the United States of America.
It reminds me of kids running for Student Council in junior high promising to have soda pop in the drinking fountains. They will not keep that promise if elected because they lack the power.
Presidents get too much credit and too much blame because people credit them with much more power that they really possess.
Vote for the person whose values are most like your own. Vote for the person whom you most trust in a crisis. We do not know in advance everything that America might face in terms of natural disasters or actions of foreign nations. We do know the problems that exist with our economy. Vote for the person whose judgement you most trust for providing solutions for unemployment, or deficit spending, or whatever, recognizing he will have to sell his ideas to Congress. Experience is important. Character is more important. Who can best lead the nation?
My Gramma used to say she voted for the man, not the party. As with many things, Gramma was right.