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As they deliberated the laws and ideas that would govern the united 13 colonies, our Founding Fathers posed an interesting question - what if we created a type of national executive, with powers and authority rivaling that of Kings, but ultimately chosen by and for the people? Not only that, but an executive whose power was bound, yet somehow bolstered by independent legislatures and courts. This was a radical notion in their time. The concept of a ruler who derived his power, not from divine mandate or hereditary succession, but from democratic will, was alien and unheard of. The world watched with curious interest, counting down the days until the admirable, but ultimately futile, grand experiment failed.
And yet it didn’t. Not only did the experiment survive – it flourished. With their nigh magical foresight, the Founding Fathers had somehow created a near-perfectly balanced system of government, with the national executive, the President of the United States, at the helm.
The President is a persistent, almost ubiquitous presence in American life. An American may not know their own Governor, Senator, Congressman, or even Mayor, but they will almost certainly know of, and have an opinion on, the President. Due to their unique visibility, Presidents are able to wield unparalleled influence, and act as catalysts for significant societal change. The Presidency is a “Bully Pulpit”, a descriptor aptly coined by Theodore Roosevelt, because the role is an unrivaled platform from which one can advocate an agenda and further, to make said agenda the new reality.
Since our nation’s founding in 1776, the United States has had the privilege of being led by 46 Presidents. I have always wondered what the Presidents of old would think of those who followed them. If we could bring them back in their intellectual primes, and put them all together in one room, what would happen? How would they interact? What would they talk about? One can only imagine the range of topics covered and all of the unique ideas which would spring forth from such a meeting. I like to imagine a room full of smiling faces, where the spirit of cooperation and compromise is reborn, and all gathered are driven by the unifying purpose of making our country as great as it can be.
Thoughts of this amazing scenario inspired me to begin work on a new painting. I wanted to make something positive and full of life, both to re-energize myself and to also revitalize the audience after a brutal pandemic year. I chose the Presidents who I thought did the most to uphold American ideals, and whose resolute characters helped lead our country through the good times and the bad.
I will end this description with my favorite quote from former President Ronald Reagan:
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
As always, I hope you enjoyed my work and that my painting put a smile on your face. If you liked “A Meeting of the Minds”, I encourage you to feel free to share it with others who you think may also enjoy it. If you’d like a copy for your home, office, or anywhere else, please consider buying a print. Whatever you choose to do, I am thankful for your time and support. I hope you have a great day and God Bless America!