Powers of the President
A common question today amongst the citizens of the United States regarding the president, especially today’s president, Barack Obama, is whether or not the President has too much power. A question even asked in one of the video which garners different opinions with many, including myself, typically saying that the President’s power may seem a bit excessive. However, is it necessary that the President have that much power and how exactly does he acquire all that power. Should someone be concerned that the power of the Presidency is getting too out of hand and leading out of a democratic type of government and more towards a government controlled by one body?
First of all, the President’s powers as noted in the book “The Struggle for Democracy” by Edward Greenberg and in the videos given, it is pretty much agreed that the power of the President has grown considerably. The President has many roles from being a worldwide representative of the U.S. citizens to the world to the Chief Executive. He is also the commander-in-chief, a foreign diplomat, and Head of State just to name a few functions. With powers endowed by the Constitution, the President’s roles are pretty well defined; however, the Constitution is also very broad in its writing leaving it to be interpreted in a variety of ways.
This is just one way that the President can increase his power. Some instances that can be noted is the clause that states that the President can at times do what is necessary for the good of the nation, and when he is doing what is needed and necessary, he can bypass some of the checks and balances set forth by the Framers of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the increase in power of the presidency is not solely attributed to the president himself. There have been instances in American history where it was due to bills passed by Congress that increased the power of the president. Originally in charge of areas like foreign diplomacy and actually executing the laws that were passed through the legislation by Congress, bills or laws like the Budget Act of 1921 and the Employment Act of 1941 have increased some of the powers of the presidency by forcing him to act on domestic issues like economics and budgets which can once again be loosely interpreted and lead to an even larger expansion on powers. Now, is this increase in power good for the nation? In my opinion, I agree that this increase in presidency power is necessary especially in times of crises which were noted by Greenberg as one of the big instances in which presidency power increases occur.
The Framers wrote a Constitution as a basic guideline for a developing nation with a developing government. This can also apply in this instance because as the nation grows, especially in the area of foreign diplomacy and involvement, the constitution, including the power of the presidency should be adapted to best suit the situations the nation may be placed in.
Along with that, the expansion of presidential power is necessary in order to achieve swift actions as seen with the implementation of things like executive orders in order to achieve goals that need to be accomplished right away because at times the democratic process may take too long. Although, some may disagree and say that the power of the president is becoming a bit out of hand, there are still many formal measures set aside by the Constitution that can prevent the President from becoming too abusive of the power bestowed on him. Most of these measures involves Congress and how Congress can step in and actually refuse to pass the bills that the president wants or even perform actions such as counter vetoing a veto from the President.
Another way the President’s power can be limited is due to the fact that the President is still a supposed to serve the people of the United States. So in essence, people have an involvement in the system of checks of balances in the government because if the President does not perform actions that please a majority of the population of either Congress or the governed, then it will lead to bad relations and result either in less chances of being reelected into office or if worst comes to worst, the impeachment of the President as seen in instances like the impeachment of Nixon. In the end, however, as much as people think that the increase in presidential power is a bad thing for the country, there is just as many good points that support the benefits of an increase in power.
As the country and our government develop, as well as our understanding of things like the Constitution, we should expect the powers of the President to expand especially in times that demand swift actions as seen now during our time of economic problems. The best one can do is to be educated once again and to stay informed on policies as well as have trust that the President that was chosen will not exceed the limitations given to him, and if he does, that the systems of checks and balances will be taken into effect and work in limiting actions that are deemed possibly harmful to the countries best interest. On the other hand, the President must also realize that he must always try to do things that serve the public’s best interest rather than pursuing his own personal agenda.