The Treaty of Paris of 1783, signed between the United Kingdom and the United States of America ended the American Revolution and Created a free country with a weak structure. The US Constitution was ,thus, drafted to set a stable government and build a new solid structure for the US political system. In fact, the American Presidency is considered one of the most influential branch in the world. The US constitution specifies Article 2 to discuss and set both roles and powers of the president. Although the President does not govern by himself and the governmental power is divided between him, the Congress and the Supreme Court, he is the only public representative who can speak for the interests of his people in both national and international levels.
The US Constitution specifies some roles and powers for the president. Article 2 of the Constitution is the one which sets them under the name of the Executive Powers. According to the constitution, the president is the :
– Head of State/ Head of Government: The president is the only elected representative who speaks for his people. He has to hold his office faithfully, undertake in ceremonial duties and national events. Examples of this role can be shown when the president congratulates astronauts after their space trip or when he plays the first baseball shot in the national baseball game.
– Commander in Chief : The president is in charge of all the US armed forces and he decides where troops should go and how long they should stay as it was stated in the Constitution:” The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and of the Militia of the several”. Deciding to bomb a city in wartime is one of the examples of this important role.
– Chief Diplomat: The US president has the right to appoint all the diplomats and ambassadors that serve the US abroad .”… by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, he shall appoint Ambassadors and other public Ministers and Consuls” confirms the constitution. Indeed, he forms the US foreign Policy and builds international relations and economics with countries abroad. For instance: inviting foreign diplomats to the White house and traveling to other countries in order to construct faithful friendships with them.
– Chief executive: He also appoints government officials and all the workers in the Executive branch. According to Article 2 section 2 of the Constitution:” he shall appoints judges of the Supreme Court and all other officers of the United States”. Therefore, he has to select competent individuals who can give more than they take from the government. A significant evidence of the president’s presence in this field is his selection of the Head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
– Chief of the economic: The president plays a major role in the increase or decrease of the economical situation in his country. He is expected to act smoothly in different problems such as high taxes, unemployment and property issues. The president can then show his behavior in this role when meeting with both business leaders and economic advisers to discuss the problems and the appropriate solutions.
– Chief legislator: the Congress is the only institution that makes laws in all the US territory. However, the president may give the Congress measures, different information about the States and also has the right to veto legislation passed by Congress as the Constitution asserts:” … he shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such Measures”. The president afterwards can prove his role in this by giving a speech in the Congress or signing its bell.
Nevertheless, Political observers have noticed a consistent growth in the power of the US president especially from the nineteenth century. They believed that the Congress at that period was not strong enough as it was at the beginning of the Constitution. Although US presidents still refer to the constitution, different events through the last decades showed the real growth of presidential powers. Indeed , this dramatic rise can be illustrated in the foreign and Domestic Policy.
– Foreign Policy:
US involvement in Vietnam War: The USA got involved in this war while the Congress did not declare it. As a result ,58,000 Americans died and the USA had massive material losses. During the Kennedy years, US military advisers played an increasingly visible role in South Vietnam , Vietnam was reunited under Communist rule later while the US had been defeated.
The Purchase of the French Louisiana: President Thomas Jefferson enlarged the size of the US territory in 1803 by allowing the purchase of Louisiana which coasted 15 million dollars without conferring with the Congress. He made the decision without consulting Congress and he knew that such a deal was not confirmed in the constitution.
11 September: Al- Qaeda operated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 11/09/2001. George W Bush was a significant character in this period and his administration was based on preserving collective security and peace. “War on Terror” was launched and the USA became the first enemy of the Muslim World.
Afghanistan: The USA was against the ruling regime of Taliban in Afghanistan; its army and the Northern Alliance who were supported by the US army got involved in the war against Taliban.
Iraq: George W Bush had his own theory in attacking any armed country before it attacks the USA. This notion led Bush towards Iraq. Although he did not get an affirm authorization from the United Nations and many countries were against the invasion.
– Domestic Policy:
Veto Right: The US president has already got a constitutional right to veto laws asserted by Congress. Since the 1970s, the “Pocket veto” can be used after two years of each Congressional term rather than during ten days which were stated in the Constitution. Nevertheless, this modern right has been used extensively by many presidents who showed their weakness. For example: President Reagan issued thirty-nine pocket vetoes while George W Bush frequently threatened a veto.
In this regard, Criticisms have dramatically grew since the US president started serving his office. Some observers argue that the US president is weak in contrast of his peers such as the British Prime Minister. The reason behind this argument lies behind the fact that the Congress checks the President’s work under the principle of “checks and balances”. In such, the powers granted in the Constitution are not huge and it is clear that the accompanying checks and balances constrain even further the power of the Presidency. In fact, only the Congress can declare war and confirm a significant number of the president’s appointments. In addition , the “power of purse” or the financial and law control remains the Congress’s priority. Besides the latter arguments, the proposed veto can be overruled by two thirds of the members of the House of Representatives. Finally, the Congress has the right to remove a president from his office in case of high crimes as it was stated in the Constitution” The President shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of ,treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”. Other politicians state that the US president is much stronger than he was before and this can be shown in the various roles and powers that the constitution offers him besides the modern ones he holds. Accordingly, the President of the United States is described as the “Leader of the Free World” and this term refers to the political, military and economic influence of the United States upon other countries that practice democracy.