Sometimes it’s fun to imagine what it would be like to be President of the United States. Actually, being dictator would allow me the latitude I’d really want. I’ve always liked the title “Tsar”.
In any case, I’m neither arrogant enough to think I could be elected to any office above County Animal Control Officer, nor foolish enough to want to take my family and I through the process.
But what if something silly happened and I were somehow elected President? Maybe some crazy Internet stunt that got out of hand. What would I do my first full day in the White House?
First of all, I would pull out my pardon pen and begin pardoning non-violent drug offenders who are imprisoned. If you committed a violent offense, you’re not going anywhere. If you pled down from a violent offense to a low-level drug offense, you’re stuck as well.
However, if someone is in prison for nothing more then the possession of a substance, I don’t think he or she should be there, and I’m tired of paying for the housing.
Given the several hundred thousand non-violent drug offenders imprisoned currently, it would take a team to go through their convictions. But I would appoint the team immediately, and my pardon pen would be ready.
In addition to this, I would immediately cease all Federal prosecution of drug offenses. It is, and always should have been, a state-level issue and I would treat it that way.
Sorry, DEA boys and girls. You might want to start working on your resumes.
I’d then start immediately marching our troops out of Iraq. They Iraqis have had years to stand up on their own (much longer than the amount of training received by the kids we send over there), and now is the time to do it. Iraq is not worth our blood and treasure.
I would also pull our troops from South Korea, Japan, and Europe, all of whom are perfectly capable of defending themselves.
I would be willing to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan (for a while), but only with matching commitments of troops from the EU countries.
More generally with the military, I would begin the process of significant downsizing. A standing army is dangerous, and unnecessary unless one has imperial predilections (which I would not). The USAF would be retained for defensive purposes, and the USN’s carrier fleet and Marines would allow for the occasional projection of force when truly needed.
Domestic surveillance by internationally focused agencies would stop immediately. Other than this, no substantive changes would be made to the intelligence community as such capabilities truly are critical to national security. I would, however, look at improving efficiencies down the road.
All Federal enforcement of gun laws would immediately cease. An armed populace makes an invasion by a foreign power impractical and prevents a tyrannical takeover by domestic forces as well. It’s not the Federal Government’s place to decide what reasonable gun laws for a particular place might be.
Immigration would be made much easier. If you can pay for and pass a simple background check, and you make it clear you want to work here, you’re in. I’d be in the process of dismantling the welfare state, so freeloaders would stay home. In short, I’d want immigration to be easy and common, as well as legal and out in the open.
All bailouts of private companies would end. If you can’t run your company profitably, you don’t deserve to be in business. Perhaps fast food would be more to your talents. And at least if fast food you’d have a chance of being a positive contributor to the economy.
The embargo of Cuba would stop. Actually, I’ve seen some debate as to whether the President could stop it all on his own. Enforcement of it, however, would cease.
My economic team would consist of a combination of economists (with a bias towards members of the Austrian or Chicago Schools) and working CPAs. I would not be looking for people who had spent considerable time in Washington; these are the people that got us into trouble. The US Government’s finances would be run in an open and understandable manner.
My Secretary of Defense would be a combat veteran. If we’re going to send our people into harm’s way, I want advice from someone who has been under actual fire.
My National Security Advisor would be an experienced intelligence analyst, with a resume including time either on the operational side of intelligence or in the military (preferably both).
I would beg and plead with Colin Powell to return as Secretary of State. If he wouldn’t do it, I’d ask him who he recommended.
This leaves some major issues unaddressed, such as the environment, energy, and healthcare, but there’s only so much I could do my first day!
Besides, my actions would have cost a lot of powerful people a whole lot of money already. I might well be facing impeachment charges on my second full day as President.