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Thoughts on Being President (Anne Lee)
Meet the New State Board Members
Election Laws and Education Studies
Grassroots (Muriel Roberts)
Ed Fund Board of Directors Announced
Viewing Viewpoints (Peter Herman)
League Notes: Life Memberships, Dates, Tribute Program, Apartheid

Thoughts on Being President

State League President

Photography: Carla Anette, Artist/Photographer

In many of the political science courses I teach, I spend time trying to pass on to my students an understanding of the role of Presidents (in particular, U.S. Presidents). This includes discussing the opposing positions expressed by President Taft and President Theodore Roosevelt in what are now oft quoted passages. Taft had a very restricted view of the office based on a narrow, legalistic and strictly constitutional outlook; he believed that there was "no undefined residuum of power" which a President could draw upon. His predecessor, Roosevelt viewed the office in a very different manner, arguing that in order to promote the national welfare the President may exercise any power which is not expressly forbidden in the Constitution and that only in this way can a President act in the best interest of the people.

In good professional fashion, I decided to review such materials in order to see if I could define my own role and gear myself up for my new responsibilities in the League.

But little did I realize that right in our own files is a statement of the presidential role which is much more succinct and to the point than anything found in my academic materials. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that until you start poking through the files of past League presidents (and I have now decided that a prerequisite for the position is a strong predisposition to nosiness) you can't begin to understand what, in all naiveté, you really agreed to do.

Oh yes, they said it would be fun, a great challenge, a delight to work with all the enthusiastic members. True, they pointed out that there would be moments of despair as well as great pride in the organization. And in the short time since I was elected I have had a taste of all of these. But I digress...

In the minutes of a 1979 Hawaii state board meeting the following description of the presidential role is found:

"The president will be all things to all members and in addition will bolster us when we are down; succor us in our need and despair; stroke us when we need a warm fuzzy; hand us the ammunition when we are firing and if necessary, will fire the gun if we become trigger-shy (provided, that is, the president is not already on the firing line leading the attack:). All things not included within the province of a particular portfolio become the province of the president."

So now it is clear--in fact absolutely clear--that I'll have to work terribly hard to follow in the steps of our previous Presidents who have done all this so well. And, whenever students get that bewildered look so common when discussing the Tafts or the Roosevelts of long ago, I know just what to pull out and read to them.

Anne Lee


is a publication produced by the

League of Women Voters Hawaii

Anne Lee President

Jeanne Trebor-MacConnell Vice President

Tisha Hickson Secretary

Vicki Zelenski Treasurer

Peter Herman Muriel R. Roberts Dee Dee Letts

Marion Saunders Marian Hatton

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