Monday, October 17, 2016

How Much Power Does The President Have?

With the election coming up soon (Tuesday, November 8!!) we got to wondering: No matter who wins the election, how much power does the President of the United States actually have??
There are three branches of government in the U.S.: Executive (the President), Legislative (Congress and Senate) and Judicial (U.S. Supreme Court). In theory, at least, these three are supposed to cooperate to pass laws. In reality, there is a lot of negotiating, stalemates, and disagreements occurring between Congress, Senate, and the President. When the legislative part is run by one political party but the President belongs to another, this frequently causes problems.

President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act. The President uses several pens to sign these bills and then hands them off to people as souvenirs that they were present at the signing.

According to the United States Constitution, the President can:
  • Suggest legislation to Congress, although Congress still has to pass it into law
  • Sign or veto bills if 2/3 of the members of Congress agree
  • Make treaties with other countries
  • Grant reprieves or pardons
  • Appoint ambassadors
  • Appoint cabinet members
  • Appoint Justices of the Supreme Court
  • Fill vacancies in the Senate if it is in recess, without an election
  • Nominate a new Vice President if that position is vacated, without an election
More in-depth explanations can be found here:

The President is the Commander in Chief of all the Armed Forces in our country. This means he or she, even though a civilian, is in charge of all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. There are chief advisors for each branch that confer with the President to keep him or her informed of any military actions. The President does not have the power to declare war, only Congress can do that.

A further explanation of "Commander in Chief" is here:

The President can be removed from office (the procedure is called impeachment) by an Act of Congress if he or she is suspected of:

  • Treason-Treason is doing something that betrays your country, such as trying to overturn a ruler or take the ruler's life
  • Bribery-Bribery is paying someone for his/her silence when you have done something wrong or illegal
  • Other high crimes and misdemeanors-this 'catchall' phrase would include the types of things done by Richard Nixon when he was in office: lying about things he ordered to be done, to spy on the Democratic Party, for starters.  Read about his impeachment here:
  • Presidents William Clinton and Andrew Johnson were also impeached, but unsuccessfully, so they completed their terms in office. President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

What does the Vice President do, you may ask?? One duty of the Vice President is to preside over the Senate when it meets. The Vice President does have the power to vote only in cases where the Senate is tied in their votes.

The main job of the Vice President is to be available should something happen to the president; that is, the President dies, becomes unable to fulfill the duties of that office, or is removed from office. At that point, the Vice President steps in and becomes President. This has happened 8 times in our history. On 13 occasions, a Vice President has gone on to become elected as President.

While the President of the U.S. enjoys lots of perks, he or she does not actually hold a lot of power. That was the agreement when the country's Constitution was written.

 Air Force One is the President's jet. It is specially equipped for safety and is always 'on call' for use.
 So as far as power is concerned, the President is somewhat limited. He or she does, however, represent the whole country to the rest of the world, and has the responsibility of diplomacy, tact, and wisdom in dealing with other nations. He or she will travel extensively and will receive visitors from many countries during his or her time in office. The way the President conducts himself or herself is the way the rest of the world views us.  

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