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How powerful is the American President?

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Introduction

How powerful is the American President? The Founding fathers of America believed in a separation of powers, a system of checks and balances and a federal system of government. That way power would be diffused and decentralised and tyranny would be avoided. Implicit in the constitution is the principle of checks and balances. This refers to the belief that the founding fathers had that no one branch of the constitutional and government system would dominate the rest. Thus President and congress often have to approve the appointments and actions of each other, with the supreme court in the background protecting the integrity of the constitution. There the president is not all powerful. After Watergate, presidents continue to find it a struggle to assert their authority. ...read more.

Middle

The constitution powers of the president, as seen as the perspective of 18th century conditions, were regarded as the minimum necessary to ensure efficient and unified government. The president has the constitutional power to recommend bills to congress and manage the governments budget, to make treaties with foreign states and direct federal administration. As well as being head of the executive branch - with jurisdiction over the government bureaucracy - he was also to be the commander and chief of the armed forces. The growth of presidential power during the course of the 20th century has certainly been great, but has not been absolute, and the presidents' powers are limited in many respects. The presidents powers under the constitution may have expanded but as have the congress and the courts and therefore the president still has to work within a "separation of powers". ...read more.

Conclusion

Although there is no doubt that the executive is powerful, it could be argued that the president is only the public spokesperson. The founding fathers would barely recognise the American presidency today. Yet its effectiveness is still influenced by the constitutional devices, which they employed to prevent an over-powerful executive. The president is the victim of a deep paradox within the American political psyche - a craving for clear leadership but a distrust of those who exercise power. The changing role of the USA also presents the president with another paradox - while it is now the worlds only super power it is no longer the worlds economic colossus: Japan, Europe and in the future China are major rivals. With the collapse of soviet communism even the president's role as leader of the western democracies is no longer so clear-cut. In Mervin apt description "Presidents are "Gulliver figures", giants in theory but in practice tied by a multitude of restrictions. ...read more.

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