Presentation on theme: "The Executive Branch “No man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it. The honeymoon would be as short in that case."— Presentation transcript:
The Executive Branch “No man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it. The honeymoon would be as short in that case as in any other, and its moments of ecstasy would be ransomed by years of torment and hatred.” —Thomas Jefferson ( )
The Electoral College Tally, 2008
The Electoral College Tally, 2004
Executive Powers The “executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States” Commander-in-Chief Grant reprieves and pardons Make treaties (with the “advice and consent” of the Senate) Nomination power (cabinet members, ambassadors and judges, although many appointments are subject to Senate approval) Give to the Congress information on the State of the Union from “time to time” Power to convene Congress “on extraordinary Occasions” Commissions “all the Officers of the United States,” which implies removal power as well The President is to recite an oath of office that reads “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” Is this an impressive list? Does it equal the reality of presidential power in the modern age?
Executive Powers The Constitution states that “the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States” and that the president shall “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The President acts as Commander-in-Chief of the military. Military power is shared, however, since only Congress has the power to declare war and only Congress raise and support armies. The president has the power to grant reprieves and pardons to people who have committed “Offenses against the United States, except in cases of Impeachment”; The president has the power to make treaties with the “advice and consent” of two-thirds in the Senate. The president has the power to nominate various officials, including cabinet members, ambassadors and judges, although many appointments are subject to Senate approval; He has the responsibility to give to the Congress information on the State of the Union from “time to time”; The President has the power to convene Congress “on extraordinary Occasions”; He shall “Commission all the Officers of the United States,” which implies removal power as well; The President is to recite an oath of office that reads “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Is this an impressive list? Does it equal the reality of presidential power in the modern age?
1.Article I is exceptionally long because the framers of the Constitution feared legislative power and wanted to be clear about its limitations. 2.Article II is vague because the framers disagreed on the nature of the presidency. 3.The framers left Article II vague in order to allow for changing circumstances. Defining the Presidency There are 2,265 words in Article I, outlining the powers of the legislature; There are 1,023 words in Article II, concerning the executive branch of government; Why is Article II so much shorter? Why is it so vague? There are three main reasons:
Some Examples of Presidents Who Expanded the Executive Power George Washington and the “Neutrality Proclamation” Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase James Polk and the Mexican War Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War George W. Bush and the war on terror
The Emancipation Proclamation Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three… order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons… And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
President Bush and the War on Terror The president authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans without warrants, bypassing the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Does the president, as Commander in Chief, have the right to override our country's laws in the interests of national security? “The modern presidency, as expressed in the policies of the administration of George W. Bush, provides the strongest piece of evidence that we are governed by a fundamentally different Constitution from that of the framers.” — Noah Feldman “Who Can Check the President” (2006)
The 1996 Schlesinger Poll on “Presidential Greatness” Where do our most recent presidents fall on this list? GREAT: Lincoln, F. Roosevelt, Washington NEAR GREAT: Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, T. Roosevelt, Truman, Polk AVERAGE: Eisenhower, L. Johnson, Kennedy, J. Adams, Cleveland, McKinley, Madison, Monroe, Reagan, J.Q. Adams, Carter, Clinton, Van Buren, G.H.W. Bush, Taft, Hayes, Arthur, B. Harrison, Ford BELOW AVERAGE: Coolidge, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore FAILURE: Hoover, Nixon, Pierce, A. Johnson, Grant, Buchanan, Harding According to the Schlesinger poll, we have been wallowing in mediocrity for years. Why?
Presidential Approval Ratings, ? Most presidents suffer declining popularity over time. What happened with Bill Clinton?
Trends in President Clinton’s Job Approval
Trends in President George W. Bush’s Job Approval, September 11 terrorist attacks Start of Iraq War Capture of Saddam Hussein
The 1996 Schlesinger Poll on “Presidential Greatness” GREAT: Lincoln, F. Roosevelt, Washington NEAR GREAT: Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, T. Roosevelt, Truman, Polk AVERAGE: Eisenhower, L. Johnson, Kennedy, J. Adams, Cleveland, McKinley, Madison, Monroe, Reagan, J.Q. Adams, Carter, Clinton, Van Buren, G.H.W. Bush, Taft, Hayes, Arthur, B. Harrison, Ford BELOW AVERAGE: Coolidge, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore FAILURE: Hoover, Nixon, Pierce, A. Johnson, Grant, Buchanan, Harding According to the Schlesinger poll, we have been wallowing in mediocrity for years. Why?
Why Great Men are Not Chosen Presidents “Europeans often ask, and Americans do not always explain how it happens that his great office, the greatest in the world, unless we except the papacy, to which anyone can rise by his own merits, is not more frequently filled by great and striking men….” The safe candidate may not draw in quite so many votes from the moderate men of the other side as the brilliant one would, but he will not lose nearly so many from his own ranks. Even those who admit his mediocrity will vote straight when the moment for voting comes. Besides, the ordinary American voters does not object to mediocrity. He has a lower conception of the qualities requisite to make a statesmen than those who have direct public opinion in Europe have. He likes his candidate to be sensible, vigorous, and above all, what he calls ‘magnetic,’ and does not value, because he sees no need for, originality or profundity, a fine culture or a wide knowledge.” James Bryce, The American Commonwealth (1888)
Why Great Men are Not Chosen Presidents “It must also be remembered that the merits of a president are one thing and those of a candidate are another thing….” —James Bryce, The American Commonwealth (1888)
What kind of president do Americans want? What kind do we get?
What kind of president do Americans want? A well- meaning, ordinary guy? A passionate leader who tells it like it is? A charismatic leader and man of conviction? A man who can kick butt when he needs to?
Why Great Men Are Not Chosen President In a famous essay called “Why Great Men Are Not Chosen President” (1888), James Bryce argued that the party system was to blame. Party bosses, he said, were concerned only with the winning of office and so chose their nominees strategically rather than on the objective basis of merit and skill. Nearly a century later with parties in decline, an American scholar, James McGregor Burns, responded to Bryce with a chapter of his own titled “Why Great Men Are Chosen President (1965), arguing instead that the office of the Presidency brings out greatness in men. Burns wrote of the presidential campaign as a kind of training ground, testing men for the very qualities they must display in the White House. Campaigns, he said, “ruthlessly cast aside aspirants who cannot organize a large campaign organization, who cannot bargain with other leaders, who cannot appeal to the mass of voters, who cannot spell out their programs, who cannot hold their tempers and keep their sense of humor. The whole presidential selection system is almost ideally suited for the selection of men who can become great in the White House.” Do you agree or disagree and why?
The Electoral College Tally, 2008
2012 Election Results by State
The Electoral College Tally, 2008
How Presidents and Vice Presidents are Chosen
Are electors bound by law to cast their vote for a specific candidate? Yes in these states: AL, AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, HI, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, SC, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY. (those in yellow are bound by “party pledges”) No in these states: AZ, AR, DE, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, ND, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV.
Arguments for the Electoral College Contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to become president; Enhances the status of minority interests; Contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two-party system;
Arguments Against the Electoral College The possibility of electing president receiving a minority of the popular vote; The risk of so-called “faithless” electors; The possible role of the Electoral College in depressing voter turnout; Failure to accurately reflect the popular will;
Reforming the Electoral College Do nothing—maintain the status quo. Abolish the electoral college outright and use a direct popular vote to determine outcomes—weigh individual votes equally everywhere: one person, one vote. Retain the apportionment of the electoral college but allow for a proportional allocation of electoral votes. Retain the apportionment of the electoral college but allocate one electoral vote for every congressional district a presidential candidate carries plus two more for each state. Adopt a national bonus plan that would maintain the Electoral College but add 102 electoral votes to the existing total of 538 and award all of the bonus votes to the national popular-vote winner.
YearCandidate Electoral College Proportional Plan District Plan Direct Popular Vote 1960Nixon Kennedy Byrd Ford Carter Others Gore Bush Others Four Methods for Aggregating Votes
Formal powers of the president during times of war The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States. He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law…
Formal powers of Congress during times of war To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; To provide and maintain a navy; To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; An “invitation to struggle…”
Informal Sources of Presidential Power POSITION - appointment power, control of national security apparatus PRESTIGE - bully pulpit, agenda-setting, national interests vs. parochial interests POPULARITY - “going public,” rally-’round-the flag
The Role of Commander-in-Chief “If you interpret the Constitution’s saying that the president is commander in chief to mean that the president can do anything he wants and can ignore the laws you don't have a constitution: you have a king… They're not trying to change the law; they're saying that they're above the law and in the case of the NSA wiretaps they break it.” —Grover Norquist The “war on terror” is open-ended, with no time limit on expanded presidential powers.
“The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” — James Madison, Federalist #47 Unitary Government
Limitations on presidential power Power is shared with other institutions Chain of command Election
The War Powers Act (1973) The president cannot commit U.S. forces to overseas combat for more than 60 days without specific authorization from Congress. Congress can direct the withdrawal of U.S. forces from overseas combat at any time. Congress authorized the use of military force in Iraq in 2002
Discussion Questions Is the president free to make war? Is the Constitution obsolete What tools does Congress have?