The American Presidency Essay, Research Paper
The Power Of the American Presidency
The office of the American President is unquestionably a democratically ruled
position. The checks and balances of the Legislative and Judicial branches, known as
Separation of Powers, keep the presidency one of the most important duties in the
world, but at the same time, the checks and balances do not let the president have too
Separation of power was very effective; The three branches of government
(executive, legislative, and judicial) are kept separate, and each has different powers.
Congress has legislative, or law making, powers; the President has the power to carry
out, or execute, the laws; and the Judicial branch had the judging power, used to
interpret the laws. In addition, each branch is able to restrain or balance the powers of
the other two branches upon power abuse. If the President is suspected of unlawful
acts, he can be impeached, or tried by the House and Senate for misusing his power. If
he is found guilty, he can be thrown out of office, unless two thirds of Congress agrees
with a treaty he proposes. Furthermore, if the President wants to spend money, his
request must pass through Congress, since it has control over spending. Lastly,
Congress can re-pass a vetoed bill. Congress also has checks and balances against
itself. The president can veto a bill from Congress, and although Congress can
override a veto, obtaining a two-thirds vote is very difficult. Public speeches by the
President may also concern the public with an issue, putting pressure on Congress to
act upon it.
The American President is one of the most important persons on earth. The
president, however, cannot pass a single bill without the approval of the House and the
Senate. The president can propose bills, and he often deals with many short, yet
unthinkably important questions concerning various factors throughout the world.
Although the president ultimately has the power to suggest just about anything on our
society, our government does not grant him total power over the decisions made
politically throughout the course of his four years.
Michael Genovese, author of The Power of the American President argues
that while as Commander-in-Chief, the President bears incredible pressures and
responsibilities, the President not only has power in the United States, but also
tremendous influence throughout the world. Genovese realizes the tremendous burden
that this incredible position entails, as he notes that many presidents publicly admit that
the office of the president is a miserable one, even though so many lobby and work so
hard to become the president1.
In any system which claims to be democratic, a question of its legitimacy
remains. A truly democratic political system has certain characteristics which prove its
legitimacy with their existence. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy
is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention.
Another necessary characteristic which legitimates government is that every vote must
count equally: one vote for every person. For this equality to occur, all people must be
subject to the same laws, have equal civil rights, and be allowed to freely express their
ideas. Minority rights are also crucial in a legitimate democracy. No matter how
unpopular their views, all people should enjoy the freedoms of speech, press and
assembly. Public policy should be made publicly, not secretly, and regularly scheduled
elections should be held. Since “legitimacy” may be defined as “the feeling or opinion
the people have that government is based upon morally defensible principles and that
they should therefore obey it,” then there must necessarily be a connection between
what the people want and what the government is doing if legitimacy is to take place.
While circumstances may dictate what a President must deal with, it does not
necessarily explain how he comes to a position on issues and deals with problems. The
behavior of a President can only be explained as a combination of many factors. His
personal politics and approach to the power of the Presidency will explain if he will try
to lead the whole government and beyond that the whole nation, or if he will act as a
clerk, putting into action the orders of Congress. A Presidents character and style of
leadership are an important factor in his approach to leadership. The size and duty of
the Federal Government also effect a President’s behavior and the priorities of his
office. Finally a President must react to events at home and abroad which are out of his
control. The pressures that these events and the public reaction to them probably have
the greatest influence over his behavior and decisions. Actions and behavior of a
President are the result of a complex set of circumstances. No one criteria can be used
to explain the behavior of the president in any event.
Democracy, a noble idea, is based in the belief that people can govern
themselves without a monarchy or ruling class. People can choose, and by that power
of choice, decide the direction and quality of their lives. Athenian democracy,
destroyed before it had time to flourish, planted this notion in mankind. American
democracy extended their ideas and has since kept on refining the notion that all men
are created equal and should have a voice in their destiny. This distinction, however,
appears to be a tainted view of an unrealistic world, sought after by most Americans.
An example of this claim can be seen by viewing the current president of an example
of our democracy. In a democracy, the majority decide the outcome of political
matters, such as the position of president, but in our most recent election, the majority
voted for Al Gore, yet George Bush was elected due to a rule that was made to keep
slave states from having too much power that decides votes by states rather than