My answer to Is the POTUS a captain of a big ship with a short rudder?
Answer by Abbey Laurel-Smith:
If I have to go by old English (Tudor) definition, the president, as a leader and the captain of the ship (boat) is best left a “trimmer” He should not be at the helm of the boat and neither is he supposed to be in control of the rudder. It works better that way.
This observation was made known by a Welsh weapon and fast boat designer named Harry Tudor, otherwise known by his English name, Henry VIII. And it was all based on his experience as an 18year old who found himself suddenly on the throne. But during the short impasse (between the death of his brother, the Prince, and him as a replacement) the Church, now at the “helm” had not only displaced the Parliament, it has also banished it – remove it from the boat. As for the rudder, it was no longer a place for hereditary or high born nuggets.
We are looking at Papal (Rome) committed emissary like Cardinal Wolsey, who removed the Parliament from English life for almost eight years, and a period after the death of the Lancastrian and home (English state focused) favorite, Cardinal Monk.
So Harry Tudor (Henry VIII) gather the working parts of the boat – the helm made up of the English Yeoman, clerks and administrators. The rudder, made up of English non-nobles and artificers. On orders from the young King, they helped the state boat in three ways:
- keep it afloat and stop it from keeling over, but do not scuttle it.
- stabilize the direction of the public boat until Cardinal Wolsey (representing Rome and the Catholic church) at the helm ran out of options for trimming the sail.
- but generally, control the direction and speed of boat.
So, no matter how well Cardinal Wolsey trimmed the sail, he was at pain trying to steal wind from competing continental sailors. He had problems trying to out maneuver other boats, and the more he tried the more he had to go back to base – Rome. Which in the end was more than a proof (to the English public) that he was in fact on orders from Rome.
And the flamboyant patriotic lines of Philip the Bastard helped the young King, Harry Tudor (Henry VIII) all through this situation.
“This England never did, nor ever shall,/ Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,/ But when she first did help to wound herself./…,/ …,/ …./ Thous canst not, cardinal, devise a name/ So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous,/ To charge me to an answers the Pope,/ Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England/ Add this much more; no Italian priest/ Shall tithe or toll in our dominions./”
That was all the English public needed, to believe that the unity of the state (representing the Kingdoms) and the meaning of being English is being attacked by:
- the Church under Wolsey’s direction.
- and both under Papal guardianship from Rome.
That was how young Harry Tudor (Henry VIII) managed to wrestle the state ship from the Papalcy in Rome. And after eight years on the throne, he restored the Parliament to England and also gave it the three part structure of government (the executive, the legislative and the judiciary) we have till today in the UK.
It was convenient for the Parliament, as an assembly to convene that way, so no single individual – working for a foreign body or a pressure group would be able to take helm and steer the state ship in the wrong direction.
That is the structure that informed all democracy and all modern form of government today. It is what informed the Founding Fathers when they convened to replace the Articles of federation with the American Constitution – thus giving independence powers to the state and the cities via representation, as opposed to the federal.
The president is the federal and has always been. The powers of the president is not as defined. It is limited by certain prohibitions. Meaning to do anything will require some sort of convention. That is why we have the Congress. And this is what made the President a trimmer of a sail, rather than a Captain at the helm of the boat with or without a small rudder.
Years later, and long after Henry VIII, another individual by the name of Oliver Cromwell – a self styled Puritan Moses, together with the Roundheads and the Regicides, tried to take helm of the state as a Captain.
Well we knew how that ended. And we also know the only good thing the came out of the Puritans “Commonwealth and the realms” rampage was the eventual set up of Harvard University in Boston by a Regicide – who finally paid his price on the chopper’s block.
That is the short history behind the evolution of the nature of our governments in the U.S. and the UK today. A U.S. President is a decorative figure if he or she is not crafty enough to trim the sail to gain advantage of the Congress. So also is the Prime Minister, his or her Cabinet, the Parliament (House of Lords and the House of Commons) and the Head of State (HM the Queen) It is even worse in Russia and Israel, where there is a shared power between the Prime Minister and the President, because there is no sovereign head.