I’m asking you if you know who the president is. You could answer with “Chief Executive” as some have. In a sense, he is the CEO of the United States of America. Per the Constitution, the branch of government he is over is the Executive branch. No stretch here at all.
More and more Americans like to point out that he is also Commander-in-Chief. True. As per the Constitution:
“The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”
By virtue of Amendments and interpretation, he is also the commander-in-chief of the military branches that did not exist at the time the Constitution was written: Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. The Marine Corps is subordinate to the Navy and is included in the basic framework.
There are a number of other responsibilities and powers the president has—one can (and should) read the Constitution to get a clear picture of what the individual in this office can do and what limits are imposed. A careful reading will show that the president has NO power or authority over a private citizen! This American idea was intentional and is radically different from the European powers from which this nation sprang. Indeed, if the president did have such power, we would be subjects. But we are not.
All this to ask another question—again: Who is the President, that we should have such respect for and alignment with?
He is just a man, fallible and limited in his knowledge as any human is. He is a political standard-bearer for one ideology or another. He is the chief executive of the government. He is commander-in-chief of the military. And he is a man who has no direct authority over me.
Yet, he is a man with an immense government at his disposal who can through influence, intimidation, or covert means, carry out actions around the world against Americans and foreigners alike and with total impunity.
In short, we have magnified the office to something it is not. We have empowered the office through less than Constitutional measures. And we have allowed the office to take upon itself powers that were not intended.
I understand what people mean when they suggest we need to have more respect for the president—but I refuse to yield my civilian right to dissent and opposition to his words, thoughts, and deeds in the name of him being the “Commander-in-Chief”. I am no longer in the military and as such, I am no longer subject to his orders!
We threw off the yoke of tyranny when we declared our independence from England, King George III, and his institutions. Let us not go back into that sort of bondage under a president!