Election 2016: Better Than Two Evils – Part One

2016 election banner(Guest Commentary) Mike Farris – Citizens for Self-Governance – Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies, co-founder of the Convention of States Project

One of the reasons we have accepted the premise of the “lesser of two evils” in our voting decisions, is that we don’t have clear ideas of what “good” looks like. For the next ten days, I will be posting a series of short articles which give a coherent philosophy that we should be looking for in a President.

I don’t claim that my ten articles are the final word on the subject. There can be “the better of two goods” just as there are the “lesser of two evils.” But, I respectfully suggest that if we had a President who believed and practiced the ten views I will outline, most of us would say, “this is really pretty good.”

  1. We need a president who will tell the truth when he takes the oath of office

On January 20, 2017, someone will stand in front of the US Capitol and promise that he will defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Most who aspire to take this oath view it as a mere formality lacking any meaningful relationship to their daily duties. At best, some will view it as a guiding ideal that should influence certain decisions.

The truth is that the central job of the President is to support and defend the Constitution. What this means is that the number one duty of the President is to do his very best to ensure that every branch of government stays within its constitutional limitations and respects the God-given rights of the people.

A president who both understands this promise and truly intends to fulfill this commitment will start by ensuring that he himself lives within the duties and authorities that the President is granted by the Constitution. This means that he will never issue executive orders that purport to control private industry, land, property, or people. He can give an executive order about the dress code for executive agencies, for example. But, he cannot be a defender of the Constitution if he issues executive orders that give directives or mandates to the states, local governments, private businesses, or private individuals.

A Constitution-defending President knows that federal laws must be made by Congress, not the executive branch. If Congress, delegates power to his branch of government to make substantive rules and regulations—he should veto any new legislation of this type and should refuse to allow any executive department to issue any such rules for existing legislation.

The Constitution says that all power to make law is vested in Congress. Congress cannot delegate this power to the executive branch because it is not merely delegating its own power. Congress is attempting to give away the right of the people to vote for the people who make the law. Congress does not want the political responsibility for the mountain of oppressive regulations they have authorized. A Constitutional president won’t go along with this and will force Congress to do its own work.

And the President should get his veto pen at the ready. Every law by Congress must be authorized by the actual text of the Constitution—not judged by the Supreme Court’s loosey-goosey approach—but by the original meaning of the Framers.

The business of defending the Constitution is more than a full-time job. And it is a moral commitment that is the heart of a legitimate President.


Mike Farris

Michael Farris is the Chancellor of Patrick Henry College and Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. During his career as a constitutional appellate litigator, he has served as lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and the appellate courts of thirteen states.

Farris has been a leader on Capitol Hill for over thirty years and is widely respected for his leadership in the defense of homeschooling, religious freedom, and the preservation of American sovereignty. A prolific author, Farris has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship by the Heritage Foundation and as one of the “Top 100 Faces in Education for the 20th Century” by Education Week magazine.

Farris received his B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University. He later went on to earn his J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law, and his LL.M. in Public International Law, from the University of London.

Mike and his wife Vickie have ten children and 19 grandchildren.