The president and keeping us safe

Loved this response from Seth Masket on the most recent Republican debate:

Finally, if I may be allowed to preach for a moment, I have a small bone to pick with the candidates’ obsession with safety. Jeb Bush concluded his remarks with a plea for American to be “safe and sound.” Chris Christie, answering a question about refugees, said, “The first job of the president of the United States is to protect your safety and your security and the security and safety of your family.” Marco Rubio echoed, “The first and most important priority of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of Americans.” Democratic candidates and presidents use this sort of language, as well.

But it just isn’t so. The Founding Fathers provided an explicit oath for presidents to take, and it says nothing about safety. Instead, it declares that the first priority of the president is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. That’s a very important distinction. If your number one priority is safety, you might push for a number of things that go against the Constitution. We might all be a lot safer with soldiers patrolling our neighborhoods and surveillance cameras in every home, but safety is not the only goal our nation and our presidents are supposed to pursue.

Now, of course we want presidents who care about our safety, and we want someone to be accountable if that safety is compromised. But that’s a political goal. And that’s a good thing! There’s nothing wrong with candidates stating their political goals and evaluating them based on those goals. But let’s not lose sight of the responsibilities of the office they seek.

Of course, nothing keeps us safe like bombing places with foreign sounding names. This recent tweet became PPP’s most re-tweeted tweet ever within 30 minutes.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to The president and keeping us safe

  1. rgbact says:

    Yep, thats how people decide who to vote for. Whos going to preserve the Constitution the best I hear it all the time in those focus groups. /sarc.

    President;s take the oath to do their job…….but they swear to do it within the Constitution. Its not their #1 job…its just an oath they take to keep them in line.

    PPP evidently is trying to morph into the Onion.

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