I presented my daughter with the following scenario:
Imagine that the president you elected has been in the White House for one term. During that time, everything that indicates the health of the country is worse than when your man came into office. Whether one looks at the economy, national security, relations with other countries, law and order, or a national sense of well-being, everything is worse. But this president is a reliable supporter for a single issue that you hold near and dear, whether that issue is abortion, gun rights, medical care, or something else. Do vote for him again?
My daughter’s response was quick. “No.” When I asked her why not, she got a little muddled, but it boiled down to this: it would be selfish to keep a bad president in office simply to preserve a single issue.
With this answer in mind, I then went about confusing her: Two of the biggest issues that grab voters are (1) gun rights, which is in the Constitution, and (2) abortion, which is a penumbra of a non-enunciated “privacy” right under the Constitution. Would the issue’s constitutional standing change whether your favorite single issue would be enough for you to keep an otherwise bad president in office? That is, if a bad president was the only thing that stood between you and losing your Second Amendment right to carry guns, or if that bad president was the only thing that stood between you and your penumbra right to an abortion, would that change your feelings?
“That’s not a fair question, Mom. A made-up Constitutional right is really stupid.”
As it is, my sense is that you can risk booting “your” guy out of office if the Constitution is at your back, because there are, in theory, other forces that existing to protect an explicit Constitutional right. The president isn’t the last bulwark. However, you’re on shakier ground if the “right” your president protects is an adjunct constitutional right that has a more gossamer foundation than the Constitution itself.
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