I have a fantasy every four years and I want to share it. It isn’t fantasy as in impossible. I don’t want to elect a wise unicorn to the presidency or anything like that. My fantasy is entirely possible, it just won’t ever happen.
In a nutshell, my fantasy is for all of the people running for president to only talk about things that the president has the legitimate power to do. I’m struck every four years by the fact that almost nothing the candidates say falls under legitimate presidential powers. They talk about taxes, but it’s Congress that decides taxes. They talk about education, but it’s states and towns that make real education policy. They talk about abortion, but (barring a Constitutional amendment) only the Supreme Court can overturn Roe v. Wade. The list goes on and on. All the candidates do is talk about things that can only be done through Congress, the states or the Supreme Court. It’s weird.
In my fantasy world, Donald Trump would tell us who he would appoint to the Supreme Court and why. Bernie Sanders would tell us who he would name Secretary of the Treasury and why. Hillary Clinton would tell us how she would instruct the Department of Justice to respond to cases like Colorado where there is a conflict between state and federal drug laws. Ted Cruz would tell us what his criteria for pardons would be. John Kasich would tell us how he would use executive orders within the current regulatory framework. And it would be marvelous.
Just think about it. The people running for President would actually try to let us know what their presidency would look like. Instead we get all these promises that would be difficult even with a sympathetic legislature and judiciary. It’s not like Trump could build a wall since Congress would refuse to fund it. Clinton isn’t getting universal pre-K as long as Republicans control the majority of the states. And Sanders certainly isn’t breaking up the banks without a super-majority in Congress and a much more sympathetic judiciary. As long as presidential candidates keep trying to sell us fantasies to get elected, my fantasy will remain for them to talk about the realities of the presidency.