Imprimis

The Presidency and the Constitution

Mike Pence
U.S. House of Representatives


Mike PenceMike Pence graduated from Hanover College in 1981 and earned his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law in 1986. After running for Congress in 1988 and 1990, he was named president of the Indiana Policy Review Commission, a state think tank based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1991. He was first elected to Congress from Indiana’s 6th District in 2000 and was most recently elected to a fifth term in 2008. That same year he was elected to serve as House Republican Conference Chairman. During the 109th Congress, he also served as chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus in the House of Representatives.



The following is adapted from a speech delivered on the Hillsdale College campus on September 20, 2010.


The presidency is the most visible thread that runs through the tapestry of the American government. More often than not, for good or for ill, it sets the tone for the other branches and spurs the expectations of the people. Its powers are vast and consequential, its requirements impossible for mortals to fulfill without humility and insistent attention to its purpose as set forth in the Constitution of the United States.

Isn’t it amazing, given the great and momentous nature of the office, that those who seek it seldom pause to consider what they are seeking? Rather, unconstrained by principle or reflection, there is a mad rush toward something that, once its powers are seized, the new president can wield as an instrument with which to transform the nation and the people according to his highest aspirations.

But, other than in a crisis of the house divided, the presidency is neither fit nor intended to be such an instrument. When it is made that, the country sustains a wound, and cries out justly and indignantly. And what the nation says is the theme of this address. What it says—informed by its long history, impelled by the laws of nature and nature’s God—is that we as a people are not to be ruled and not to be commanded. It says that the president should never forget this; that he has not risen above us, but is merely one of us, chosen by ballot, dismissed after his term, tasked not to transform and work his will upon us, but to bear the weight of decision and to carry out faithfully the design laid down in the Constitution in accordance with the Declaration of Independence.