Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Language for Conservatives to Avoid

For my 150th post to my blog, I am continuing this series I began in late 2008, shortly after I launched this blog.

Federal Elections

There are no such thing as “federal elections,” except in the federal District of Columbia. There are elections for federal offices, but these are state elections. As noted in earlier posts in this series, there is no such thing as a “presidential election,” only elections for presidential and vice presidential electors, and there are no such things as “national elections,” as the United States is neither a nation, nor a nation-state, but a union of states.

Referring to American States as Political “Subdivisions”

The several American States created the union of states known as the United States of America. The U.S. did not create the states as “subdivisions,” as if they are its provinces. States are sovereign, independent entities.

Clinton-Gore Administration, Bush-Cheney Administration, etc.

There is no such thing as the “Clinton-Gore Administration,” the “Bush-Cheney Administration,” the “Obama-Biden Administration,” etc. These terms refer to the supposed administration of the president and vice president of the United States. However, the vice president is not a part of the Executive Branch. As President of the Senate, he is a member of the Legislative Branch. In the post-war period (since the National Security Act of 1947, which made the Vice President a member of the National Security Council) and in recent practice, especially since the presidency and vice presidency of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, respectively, vice presidents have taken an increased role in executive matters, not only in terms of giving advice, but of carrying out various tasks assigned by the president. Only in this strict sense can it be said that there is such a thing approaching a co-presidency that these terms suggest. But it is better not to use such terms that inaccurately suggest that the U.S. Constitution makes the vice president a member of the Executive Branch, instead of making him independent of the president. Indeed, until the Twelfth Amendment, the vice president was the one who received the second-highest number of electoral votes, as if it represented a power-sharing arrangement with the main leader of the loyal opposition. Vice presidents are elected separately by the electors on separate ballots. They are not appointees like Cabinet members, who serve only at the pleasure of the president, but are elected to four-year terms and are thus accountable directly to the people. Even if the vice president is of the same party as the president, he can be an intra-party check on the president when it is necessary for him to exercise his limited power of casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate, instead of feeling as if he is a servant of the president.

Similarly, conservatives should avoid referring to the vice president as the “second-in-command,” or to the president as the “vice president’s boss.”

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