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United States PresidencyComments

United States Presidency

Under the Articles of Confederation, the founders deliberately created a weak president. At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates initially approved of a different kind of president that was: chosen by Congress for a seven-year term and ineligible for re-election; reflective of the checks and balances philosophy.

The Constitutional Convention eventually decided that the president had to: be a U.S.-born citizen; be at least thirty-five years old; have lived in the United States for at least fourteen years; have no terms limit. The briefly stated and comparatively vague Constitutional powers of the president are outlined below.

Chief Executive

The president was to be the Chief Executive. This role has become increasingly more important today than when the Constitution was first ratified. This means that the executive branch was meant to carry out and enforce laws. For example, a new speed limit law would be enforced by the executive branch -- from changing signs to educating citizenry.

However, the President has become increasingly involved in the legislative process. The President proposes a budget and Congress debates the president’s proposal. However, what the founders did not foresee was that the president would eventually control the debate. It was not originally planned for the president to propose the budget -- that was meant to be in the hands of Congress.

Veto Legislation

Policy-making decisions were the proper role of Congress. Power was intended to prevent “bad” legislation from being enacted. The presidency was not intended to veto policies against the president's fiber. Presidents were supposed to be above politics, vetoing laws based only on constitutionality.

Presidents were intended to be elected by electors chosen by the state legislature. The president's constituent -- seemingly vague -- is defined clear by the Oath of Office: ''I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'' Thus, the president's only constituent was the Constitution of the United States. The president's job was to protect and to defend the Constitution. In present day, presidents are held answerable to the public.

Commander in Chief

Among the enumerated powers, many war making powers were given to Congress. Unless Congress acted, there was nothing for the President to command. There was no standing military, only one that could be formed by Congress. In modern times, there is always a standing army and navy at the disposal of the president. This increased the importance of the role of commander in chief. Rather than waiting for Congress to raise an army, the Commander in Chief now has an entire military to direct.

Negotiate treaties

President is the sole voice of the nation on matters of foreign affairs. The president was subject to the approval of the Senate. Approval required a 2/3 majority of the Senate. Once approved, treaties are the supreme law of the land.

Other powers

The president's power includes appointment of various officials (many are subject to the approval of the Senate) as well as granting pardons.

Glossary
VetoA president's rejection of a bill passed by both Congressional chambers. Can be overrode by a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers.
Inherent PowersPresidential powers inferred from the Constitution.
Executive OrdersPresidential orders that create or modify laws without direct Congressional approval.
Delegation of PowersCongress' delegation of additional power to the executive branch to address new problems.
Executive Office
of the president
Executive aides and staff of the president, including the extended White House establishment.
CabinetThe heads of the executive departments, top presidential advisers and other officials.
Divided GovernmentControl of the presidency by one party, with another party controlling at least one Congressional chamber.
GridlockParalysis of the government on important issues -- can be due to a divided government.
MandateAn order given to a state so that it may meet minimum national standards.
Legislative Liaison StaffAdvisers to the White House who are in contact with Congress and are aware of pending legislation.