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Constitutional Powers of the President of the United States

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Imagine if the entire American government system was operated entire by the president

Every decision, law, and court ruling determined by only one person. There is no room for debate or questioning, ultimately leading to the abuse of power and authority. While this may seem completely absurd, many believe that this is not very far away from actual truth. Due to the uneven use of checks and balances among the three branches of government, it has resulted in the executive branch of the American government gaining too much power, therefore leaving the original intent of the constitution to be changed and unenforced.

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As such, political power of the US President is significantly exaggerated; according to Dean, “with today’s presidents, what you see is not what you actually have”. While the United States’ President is always presented as a person who passes legislation, it is the Congress that bears the major responsibility for this action; the United States’ President can either veto legislation or sign it. As the US President does not have the power to pass economic legislation (or any other legislation), he is not able to improve the economy of the United States. The Supreme Court also has the power to limit some actions of the US President

For instance, the Supreme Court may speak against the President’s decision to arrest individuals who are accused of crimes against the United States of America and keep them in prison without a trial, as was just the case with the ‘illegal enemy combatant’ Yaser Esam Hamdi. The Supreme Court has the right to oppose the US President and to start a trial or release a prisoner. In addition to the limitations imposed by the Congress and the Supreme Court, the US President lacks the power to extend the term of the presidency, to eliminate the existing bureaucracy, and to avert domestic or foreign crises. Moreover, the United States’ President is too dependent on public support, and in many cases cannot survive without it. Especially in the first period after the election and before re-election, all his actions are judged by the public and the Congress; hence, it is very important for the US President to weigh all aspects before making a decision and develop the ability to engage in a close co-operation with all political figures. If the US President is accused of bribery, treason and other serious crimes, he will be impeached. To enhance his political power, he makes constant attempts to create strong public images, as was just the case with George W. Bush.

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Constitutionally, the President administers state and government tasks. Nonetheless, the country’s constitution defines clearly, the specific roles of the president- presidential powers. For better governance, presidential powers must have checks and balances either from the judiciary, or legislature or both. (Sotirios, Robert, pp. 3-36). If these powers do have proper checks and balances, the presidency can turn dictatorial. Some counties around the world with weak systems of checks and balances have turned into butcher states where opponents of the sitting administration undergo all manner political, social and economic abuses. Additionally, under the Presidential system, the government comprise of the legislature and Judiciary as additional arms. Three arms of government that is, the judiciary, legislature and executive must check each other to ensure proper service delivery under acceptable standards. The mandate of any government is to serve its citizens and ensure justice to all. (Rudalevige, pp.3-27). For example, a presidential system applies in United States of America. The president is the head of state and head of government. Thus, during major domestic and international affairs, the President represents or presides on behalf of all Americans. Further, when different heads of other counties visit United States, the President receives them as a sign of diplomacy and international cooperation.

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On the whole, since World War II, our last declared war, the USA has waged a series of undeclared wars largely on presidential initiative. Reacting to the Vietnam experience, Watergate, and concerns about an “imperial presidency” in 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, seeking to reassert its authority. While subsequent commitments of U

S. forces have all carried some sort of congressional approval, no subsequent President has formally acknowledged the measure’s constraints. Many of the framers would doubtlessly be surprised at the extent to which Presidents have come to dominate American government. The controversy that has accompanied this development, however, would probably be much less surprising.

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Krent, Harold. Presidential Powers. New York: New York University Press, 2005. Print.

Rudalevige, Andrew. The new imperial presidency: renewing presidential power after Watergate. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2005. Print.

Shane, Peter. How has Presidency Changed in the Last 30 Years? 2009. Web.

Sotirios, Barber, Robert, George. Constitutional Politics: essays on constitutional making, maintenance and change. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001. Print.

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