Essay, Research Paper
John Adams wrote over two hundred years ago, " Power naturally
grows…because human passions are insatiable. But that power alone can grow
which already is too great; that which is unchecked; that which has no equal
power to control it."1
Our system of government in the United States of America was founded based on
this principal. Our founding fathers took great care and detail, attempting to
produce a document that could distribute power among a nation of individual
beliefs and ideals. The document drafted in 1787, the constitution, did just
that, and has continued to do so, but times have changed. Is it possible for a
document over 200 years old to be able to keep up with changing times, and if
our founding fathers were alive today would they still feel that there was an
even distribution of power between the legislative and executive branches?
I believe over time the presidency has indeed, became and continues to become
and increasingly powerful office. Different resolutions, and informal powers
granted to the office over the years has made the President an increasingly
imposing figure. I also feel that congress, in contract to the Presidency, has
lost some of its power and respect in American Politics. I believe some evidence
of the scenario includes what or who is actually involved in congressional
actions, the partisan politics constantly taking place in the house and senate,
and the difficulty of passing a bill through the senate. All of these changes
have taken place over a large period of time, and may in fact have been subtle I
do believe however it is not difficult to provide evidence of an increase in the
Presidents power in contemporary politics.
To provide this evidence I believe the best way is to start off by examining
the powers that were granted to the President by the constitution. The office of
the President has become more and more powerful over the years because he has
had more opportunities to do so. The constitution has given the president many
formal powers but most of his power has been derived for his informal powers and
by the peel allowing this to take place.
First, we will focus on the constitutional powers of the President. One power
that the constitution has granted the president is the right to appointment.
This appointment power allows the President to appoint pretty much all offices
in the United States that does not already have a law provided for. This is an
important role of the President because The President only has this power with
the consent of the Senate. I believe that popularity of the President may have
some influence over the Senate’s consent. Such as, if the Senate likes the
President they are more likely to agree with his choices.
Another power awarded to our President is the power to make treaties with at
least two-thirds approval of the members of Senate. This power has become
increasingly more used since our first president. This is because when our
nation was first starting out the nation was more concerned with their selves
that effects with foreign nations. However, once our country became stronger
foreign policy became an important issue. A privilege of our chief executive is
the executive agreement. This privilege allows the President to enter our nation
into secret agreements with foreign countries without needing the Senate’s
The veto power is powerful to the President because when the President does
reject a bill the bill usually dies. This is because Congress has a hard time
trying to get the two-third vote to override his veto. This is easily to
understand since the president has one mind and one stand on issues the congress
has many different ideas and thoughts about issues.
The power to convene Congress is not as important as it was when the
Constitution was written. The reason for this is that when the Constitution was
drafted the Congress did not have to sit in year-round sessions. Although, it is
still used today just not as frequently.
However, I believe the Presidents powers have increased more to do with
informal powers rather than by powers expressed in the constitution.
Personal popularity is an informal power that has become increasingly helpful
to the president. First of all, congress is less likely to mess with a popular
President than one hated by the public. A reason for this is because many
congressmen are continuously running for political openings and does not want to
jeopardize their own popularity. In other words the public may dislike a
congressman that is going against a President they agree with. Also, congressmen
will stick with their own party.
Presidential popularity has increased over the years because they are now
seen by the public more than our first Presidents. There are many reasons why
this has evolved but one of the biggest reasons is television. Television opened
the entire nation to the President because now the President could be seen and
heard by all citizens at one time. Before the President had to travel around the
country and wasn’t able to speak to everyone.
Media has also affected the President both negatively and positively. In the
past the media tried to protect the President and strayed from printing negative
news about the President. However, today the media is more interested in selling
a story than protecting the Presidents image. The public now believes they
should know everything about the President, not only his actions in office but
his personal life also. For the past few year this has definitely has been
apparent with President Clinton. The media is constantly attacking Clinton.
Presidents over the years have had to deal with a greater number of issues
than presidents of the past. Due to the broad range of these issues and the many
different factions associated with them it is important that a presidential
candidate does not always clarify the issue at hand. Benjamin Page defines this
as the "Art of Ambiguity." If a presidential candidate is talented in
the art of side stepping controversial questions citizens will have a difficult
time telling the policy differences between candidates. This is an ability that
differs from President to President. I think President Clinton is a wonderful
example of how a president is able to maintain his popular standing in the
public because he is able to avoid revealing his true opinions regarding
policies until they wind up as bills that need his signature.
The executive branch has grown over the years by adding new offices.
Presidents today pay much closer attention to the officials that they appoint to
these offices which include the National Security Council, Council of Economic
advisers, and the office of Science & Technology Policy to name just a few.
Because these Bureaucrats are appointed by the President they may have
tendencies to abandon their neutral standpoints on policy preferences of the
President. Advisors from varying departments meet with the President daily in
some cases. The people that occupy theses positions are very reputable in there
various fields, and as such provide the President with information that is
concise and up to date, information that the other branches are not provided
with. This heighten awareness of the state of different issues and happenings
within the different offices, gives the President the advantage of being the
first to know about both the good and bad new and thus the ability to react
swiftly and accordingly. This could make the president more knowledgeable than
members of the Congress.
In this day of age the President has more power than ever before. Although,
it has taken two hundred years to achieve this high of power. It must makes us
weary that in the past two hundred years there has been a steady increase in the
Presidential power which is taking away for the Congress’s power. Isn’t this
incline enough evidence to be weary that the President could keep gaining more
and more power in the future. John Adams was definitely weary of this and his
statement still rings true today.