History Lesson: On The First Officer and the Vice President

At the latest Hooking Up Smart thread, Athol Kay’s “captain and first officer” model came up. A commenter dubbing herself Stargate Girl (don’t know if she’s related to this girl) said:

Hrumph. I am not always a “first Officer”. I can step up to Captain just dine, thank you (sic)*.

The excellent OffTheCuff responded with a very interesting point:

My wife, the huge Star Trek fan… and I know this better than you?? Riker doesn’t become Captain when he has the bridge, though he’s in full command of the ship.

In the military, the first officer (or XO) doesn’t become the captain unless the captain is killed or captured. The presumptive succession of command duties is actually thought to have been a major advantage of the American military in World War II vis a vis the Japanese and Germans, who are alleged to have wandered aimlessly in the event the CO was taken out in battle.

Anyway, this got me thinking about the American vice presidency. The VP is a weird position; it was apparently invented on the spot at the Constitutional Convention. Until the 12th Amendment, he wasn’t even on the president’s ballot, he was simply the second-highest vote getter in the electoral college – a way of further moderating the majority rule whose power the founders were anxious to limit. (To get a feel for it, note that some states still elect their lieutenant governor separately.)

Where things get really interesting is how the Veep is defined if the president is incapacitated. The original constitution didn’t really nail down the issue. The duties of the President “devolved” to the VP, but it was unclear if the VP would actually become the President or simply a custodian of the presidential duties (“Acting President,” a much different frame of authority) until the subsequent election.

This was all academic until 1841, when William Henry Harrison died a month into office. Daniel Webster sought guidance from the Supreme Court. Despite political peessure to the contrary, John Tyler arrived from Williamsburg and took the oath of office, asserting himself to be the President, full stop.  The series of political fortunes that had sent him to the height of power earned him the nickname “His Accidency.”

Minutiae: to prevent overwhelming regionalism in favor of powerhouses like New York and Virginia, the Constitution required that each elector cast two votes, which were required to be from separate states. Thus the reason the VP must hail from a different state than the president (which is why Dick Cheney changed his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming shortly before joining George W Bush’s campaign).

Though he is privy to all information the POTUS gets on national security, the budget and whatnot, he’s not really the second in command. He’s more like a special advisor, a political helpmeet. He is president of the Senate (the world’s greatest collection of blowhards), but his only real power there is as the tiebreaking vote. Another factor is the personalities of the particular POTUS and VP themselves; Dick Cheney and Joe Biden have filled very different roles under GW Bush and Barack Obama respectively.

*(As an aside, women who are endlessly insistent about “I’m the boss of me and no one should be able to tell me to do something I don’t want to especially not some man just because he’s my husband” – which appears to be a lot of women on the Internet and something that modern feminism trains them into – should think hard about whether they are really cut out for marriage in the first place. Getting married means signing up for a lot of tacit responsibilities you may not want to do at the time, but you agreed to do them for the good of the team. In the same way that men who are not ready to lead the marriage need to think hard about getting involved in marriage at all.)

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32 Comments

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32 responses to “History Lesson: On The First Officer and the Vice President

  1. udolipixie

    The men who don’t feel ready to lead should partner up with the women who don’t want to be lead.

    That way neither are 24/7 leaders but supporters of one another and whenever one has more knowledge of whatever decision he or she would have authority over it with the other adding input.

  2. ExtremeBalance

    @pixie

    I think there can be a lot of conflict in that case, too, stemming from ‘natural’ desires’ conflicts with ‘cultural’ training. For women, I think that’s the cultural “I’m the boss of me” conflicting with the natural desire to be dominated (in the MMSL way); whereas for men it’s the natural desire to lead the relationship conflicting with the “she’s her own independent self” training. I think many folks just don’t recognize the conflicting messages in themselves (I know I didn’t until I began frequenting these dark corners of the interwebs :) ), leading to a lot of confusion for everyone.

  3. Stephenie Rowling

    Pixie
    You will be right if this women are really independent at the core and no just babbling feminist brainwashing. This women are the more likely to lose attraction to their husbands and cheat or divorce and leave to find a stronger man that don’t put it with their crap.
    This model doesn’t work just because there is a good reason for it, if women really wanted and equal you wouldn’t have all this men that grew up with feminist mothers having any problem getting laid, is obviously not the case.

  4. A primary requirement of a good First Officer is the ability to step up to Captain role as required.

  5. udolipixie

    @ExtremeBalance

    That’s why it’s for the women who don’t want to be lead & for the men who don’t want to lead.

    @Stephenie Rowling
    I agree it works for women who don’t want to be lead not women who are naturally submissive or hiding their submissiveness.

    Not every woman is submissive to a man just like not every man wants to dominant a woman.

    As for this:
    This model doesn’t work just because there is a good reason for it, if women really wanted and equal you wouldn’t have all this men that grew up with feminist mothers having any problem getting laid, is obviously not the case.

    Maybe it’s the wording but I don’t understand.

  6. The past tense of “lead” is “led.”
    The past tense of “lead” is “led.”
    The past tense of “lead” is “led.”
    The past tense of “lead” is NOT “lead.”

    I see this all the time on the internet and it drives me UP THE WALL.

    Cleansing breath.

    Carry on.

  7. Bb

    (As an aside, women who are endlessly insistent about “I’m the boss of me and no one should be able to tell me to do something I don’t want to especially not some man just because he’s my husband” – which appears to be a lot of women on the Internet and something that modern feminism trains them into – should think hard about whether they are really cut out for marriage in the first place.

    Out of curiosity, how many women in real life have you met like this, Badger? (I’ve been out of SMP for quite a while.) Even with non-traditional ideas of marriage, it would seem that a woman who’d want to be completely in control of their own destiny wouldn’t think that marriage would be logical. Cuts out of a lot of choice and options for self.

    Getting married means signing up for a lot of tacit responsibilities you may not want to do at the time, but you agreed to do them for the good of the team.

    I think it’s very important for the team to define what those responsibilities are going to be, as well. When I first got married, our roles ran along more traditional gender lines: I cooked and cleaned, he handled yard and took out the trash. Then after a few years we realized that managing tasks by strengths was better for *us*. I actually like ironing and putting away clothes. Hate transferring clothes to and from dryer, etc. He doesn’t mind that a bit. It’s just worked out that what we liked / don’t like has really balanced out. (We both hate cleaning the house, and we outsourced that as fast as we could and LOVE it.)

    In decision making, we’re more of a team too. I’ve thought long and hard about captain and first mate, but I don’t think it’s the model we use. I don’t know what I’d call our model. It’s more like partners with veto power.

    For instance, we have one child. I’d like another. He doesn’t. We don’t have another child. I haven’t whined or nagged about having another child. I respect his decision about that, but he would do the same for me if the roles were reversed.

    (The really sad thing is that so many of my girlfriends have told me, “Oh, surely you could have an ‘accident’.” Or “why not just get pregnant and when the baby comes he’ll fall in love with it anyway.” That strikes me as completely deceitful, and a really terrible way to bring another child into the world.)

  8. Stephenie Rowling

    “This model doesn’t work just because there is a good reason for it, if women really wanted and equal you wouldn’t have all this men that grew up with feminist mothers having any problem getting laid, is obviously not the case.”

    I meant that if the majority of women wanted a sweet guy that didn’t wanted to lead, all this guys on the manosphere that tried that strategy for years would have had tons of women wanting to be with them, romantically, they were raised to be nice and respectful by their mothers for the last 3 decades, but is the opposite the most nice the less attracted the women are to them, so the model of man leading most be what attracts the majority of women, regardless of the few exceptions.

  9. udolipixie

    @Stephenie Rowling
    The majority of women I know that look for sweet guys look for sweet guys who are attractive, confident, social, interesting, and funny.

    I think most women do want a guy that treats them nicely or is sweet at times not a guy who is just a sweet guy.

    How does women not wanting nice equal my model won’t work?

    I understand my model won’t work for women who want to be submissive to men or are secretly submissive to men hence why I put women who don’t want to be led.

    How do nice guys play into this? Just because a guy doesn’t want to lead doesn’t make him a nice guy. Is that what you thought I meant by men who don’t want to lead?

    I thought my model would be based on a woman’s inclination to submit to a man & a man’s desire to lead resulting in a partnership of supporters where the situations vary of whose in control by who is best suited instead of default leadership by genitalia.

  10. udolipixie

    @Bb

    What a great husband you have!

    Most guys are not like that but prefer the traditional gender roles with a modern twist they can now have housewife without being the breadwinner and she works as well.

    Your model is the ideal and what I based my women who don’t want to be led (Aunt Haley) & men who don’t want to lead view on.

  11. ExtremeBalance

    Pixie,

    Yes, I think your system may work well in an ideal situation where both partners truly have the preferences you assigned them. The point I was trying to make was that I think in the real world a lot of people will have underlying internal desires they may not be aware of that will sabotage their relationship based on this model (i.e. I think the model is good in theory but probably not as good in practice).

    I am basing this on my own experience and those that I’ve read about on the internet that seem similar to mine, whereby it turned out that what a woman *said* she wanted in a man turned out to be only part of the story. Now I’m learning the untold part of the story, I think.

  12. Stephenie Rowling

    “I understand my model won’t work for women who want to be submissive to men or are secretly submissive to men hence why I put women who don’t want to be led.”

    The thing with this is that self awareness doesn’t seem to be common, many women claim that they lost attraction because they are not “feeling it anymore” or a nice guy that fills their list of requirements is not someone that they are attracted to even if in theory they should be. How many of them will be aware enough to know that they felt they were superior to the man or the man was leaving them too much in charge and that was what it was missing on their relationship?
    No matter how many times they date men that don’t want to lead I think they would probably won’t know what was missing in a long time, maybe never if there is no one telling them that this is a valid choice. Also men should know this is an option for them as well, many men don’t want to lead not naturally but because they feel they are being “mysoginist” by doing so, both models should be open and accepted so people can make a concious soul searching and find out what is best for them, given that feminism and mainstream is filled with your model idea depicted as the ideal “equality friendly” one. I think manosphere is filling a gap by proposing the other one, YMMV as usual.

  13. udolipixie

    @Stephanie Rowling

    I’m still not understanding what a nice guy has to do what this but most people know whether they are submissive, submissive inclined, dominant, dominant inclined, switches, neutral, or want to be equals.

    The ones that don’t usually will find out after failed relationships.

    Men have always had the option to lead it’s their traditional gender role I’m pretty sure they know that. As for them being scared of being labeled a misogynist that fear will ease out once they go foreign or meet a traditional girl.

    My solution was for those that want to be equals.

    The proposed situation in the article is the traditional one that’s always been there hence why I gave a solution for the women & men in the article the writer said needed to think about whether to get involved in marriage if they didn’t fit the mold.

    I understand your view but my solution was for the people that truly want to be equals who don’t fit the articles mold of what marriage should be.

    Not women who are submissive inclined or men who are dominant inclined but those who are neutral or want to be equals.

  14. OffTheCuff

    First, this isn’t about housework, or what is a man’s task and what’s a women. That has nothing to do with leadership.

    Our marriage (StargateGirl’s and mine) was very much like Bb’s for the longest time — nearing 20 years in fact. I went through great pains to avoid leading, to avoid “misogyny” as Steph so aptly puts it). I tried to do everything by letting her make an equal number of decisions as me, if not more, since that’s what women say they want. I tried to do the whole one-person-one-vote thing and if we disagreed, then we are to make calm, rational arguments to try to convince the other person of their viewpoint.

    She pretty much hated it. Especially that last part, about rational debate when we disagree:

    “Why did you spend $300 on clothes?”
    “The kids need it for school.”
    “But you said $200 would be enough.”
    “But I really like this and this and this. It’s so cute!”
    “You said $200 but spent $300, and now we have to put in on a credit card, because we don’t have the cash.”
    “That’s fine.”
    “No it isn’t, because we can’t pay it off! t”
    “But we need clothes!”

    …and so on.

    I can see now, in hindsight, how many times she would say, through her *actions*, “I don’t want to make this decision — it’s your call”. I would stupidly insist on asking her opinion or make her cast a vote, when what she really wanted was let me take care of.

    Until you’ve actually tried it both ways, it’s really hard to know a different way is better or worse. It’s amazing how people often don’t know what they want — us included. And that’s the key of Athol’s post. People are bumbling around not knowing which leadership style works best because we’ve all been sold on the equalist solution.

    I’d say we’ve fought less this past year than in the last 10 combined, due to… leadership. In fact, we were joking this morning — “you know, we don’t fight about sex anymore, and now our budget is working, what are we going to fight over, now?”

  15. Had no idea you guys were married.

    “you know, we don’t fight about sex anymore, and now our budget is working, what are we going to fight over, now?”

    Haha, Athol says in his book that complaints about household issues often reflect sexual frustrations – “my vagina is angry at you!”

  16. Sweet As

    it’s interesting how — when partners work together, they often come to solutions.

    Early on, I took the lead due to my needs, our personality times, and honestly, his needs as he understood them.

    Over the years, I tried to switch the roles a bit — taking less of a leadership role — but it was “forcing” him into a role before he was ready. Eventually, I got *really* frustrated, and communicated my need to him.

    And, we are working on getting this new way of working together to work for us. It’s taking a lot of effort on my part to do nothing, actively.

    But, as our awareness and needs changed, so also did our relationship.

  17. I think we need to be careful not to fall into the “leading = you tell me what to do” trap. “You are not the boss of me” is generally used to protest against being ordered around. There’s a big difference between a husband saying “I don’t want you going out with your friends at night” and “You’ve been going out a lot at night with your friends, and that cuts into our evenings together. I don’t mind you going out occasionally, but I enjoy having dinner together and have no interest in fending for myself most nights.” The former is pissy/weak and the latter is strong. When I do go out in the evening I always have dinner prepared for my husband, and make a special point of connecting when I get home, asking him about his day, etc.

    I find that our marriage goes smoothly when I express some deference to my husband. I confess that I know very well how to manage his expectations and desires, so that if there is a way I wish to influence him, I generally know how to go about it. I’m a very strong and independent person, and we both know it. My willingness to be First Officer to his Captain, despite my ability to run the ship, keeps our marriage harmonious and sexy. We very rarely argue.

  18. Susan,

    Thanks for your detailed comment. I was mostly referring to women who have a warped concept of marriage as an institution where she gets to live her empowered independent lifestyle but her husband is obligated to bend to her wishes…it’s a one-way process.

    A lot of these women aren’t naturally like this but have been neuroticized and brainwashed into it by the “don’t take any shit from a man” branch of feminism. They don’t want to let down the sisterhood by admitting they enjoy doing nice things for their man or deferring to him (I had a watershed post on that topic last month).

  19. Bb

    @OffTheCuff I completely agree that housework tasks have nothing to do with leadership!

    @Pixie, I think our marriage model is an outlier, and I don’t think necessarily works for others, or should be held up as the ideal. It simply works for us. We’re both high as NTs on the Myers-Briggs scale, and rarely fight. Having rational discussions are a big strength in both of us, and is part of what we do professionally. We have never fought about money or sex.

  20. udolipixie

    @Bb
    I know it won’t work for those who want to be a leader & those that want to follow but for me it’s the ideal since both partners have veto power.

    It’s truly amazing that there have been no arguments over money or sex.

  21. Aldonza

    @Stephenie Rowling

    I meant that if the majority of women wanted a sweet guy that didn’t wanted to lead, all this guys on the manosphere that tried that strategy for years would have had tons of women wanting to be with them, romantically, they were raised to be nice and respectful by their mothers for the last 3 decades, but is the opposite the most nice the less attracted the women are to them, so the model of man leading most be what attracts the majority of women, regardless of the few exceptions.

    The guys whining the most in the manosphere are the ones not getting laid. Not necessarily the ones not getting married. In my experience, beta guys are *more* likely to end up married than alphas. Fact is, women can and do select for beta traits for LTRs.

  22. Aldonza

    @Badger

    A lot of these women aren’t naturally like this but have been neuroticized and brainwashed into it by the “don’t take any shit from a man” branch of feminism. They don’t want to let down the sisterhood by admitting they enjoy doing nice things for their man or deferring to him (I had a watershed post on that topic last month).

    Brainwashed? Huh. I thought I didn’t want to take shit from a man because it showed a lack of self-respect to take shit from anybody, particularly from the one I chose as a life partner. I never considered that to be a feminist trait. More like self-preservation. And it wasn’t feminists that taught me that. It was men who gave me shit.

    I also have no problem admitting that I love doing nice things for the man I’m with. It makes me happy to “serve” and yes, even be submissive at times. Nobody wants lead all the time. Not even ball-busting feminists.

  23. Stephenie Rowling

    “The guys whining the most in the manosphere are the ones not getting laid. Not necessarily the ones not getting married. In my experience, beta guys are *more* likely to end up married than alphas. Fact is, women can and do select for beta traits for LTRs.”

    Don’t women start to try to get married after when they start approaching 30 or finishing their careers? That means that the guys are not getting laid for more or less 15 years or more of their lives, while the guys assholes are, getting laid. I really doubt they consider waiting this long for female attention something worth being “nice” for, YMMV.

  24. sestamibi

    Not quite right on presidential electors. They are not required to vote for pres and v-p from different states, but only at least one from a state other than their own. Thus, only the Texas electors couldn’t vote for both Bush and Cheney if the latter still lived there. Electors from all other states could vote for two Texans.

    [You are correct, but I think it's a distinction without a difference. The end result is that unless the P and VP are from different states, the electors can't function as intended.]

  25. Bb

    I was mostly referring to women who have a warped concept of marriage as an institution where she gets to live her empowered independent lifestyle but her husband is obligated to bend to her wishes…it’s a one-way process.

    @Badger I think this type of woman would be easy to find and filter out: she’d talk a lot about being a bride and her big day, and almost nothing about being a wife.

    A lot of these women aren’t naturally like this but have been neuroticized and brainwashed into it by the “don’t take any shit from a man” branch of feminism. They don’t want to let down the sisterhood by admitting they enjoy doing nice things for their man or deferring to him (I had a watershed post on that topic last month).

    For some reason reading this makes me think of the women portrayed in “Sex and the City”, and I wouldn’t wish any of those women on any man. I hope they aren’t an accurate reflection of the current SMP…do you find yourself interacting with women like this a lot?

  26. pb

    “The presumptive succession of command duties is actually thought to have been a major advantage of the American military in World War II vis a vis the Japanese and Germans, who are alleged to have wandered aimlessly in the event the CO was taken out in battle.”

    This may be true of the Japanese military, but it’s false of the German military…

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  28. “This may be true of the Japanese military, but it’s false of the German military…”

    With all due respect to a drop-in commenter, are you going to provide a source here, or are we supposed to just take your word for it?

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  32. Wanting a man to lead a relationship is not the same as requiring him to rule the household alone or be the ultimate decision maker. Sometimes men are more decisive and handle situations better, but there’s a difference between deferring to your husband and calling him, by virtue of gender, the one who always, regardless, gets the last word.

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