In many countries around the world, constitutional powers vest the President to be the chief executive of the nation. These Presidential powers are enormous ranging form being the head of state and head of government to commander in chief of the armed forces.
Additionally, the President has powers under the Constitution to appoint persons to represent or administer government agencies, delegate responsibilities to government employees, declare a state of emergence, or order the army to attack enemies. Nevertheless, these powers must be constitutional. The constitution is an ultimate document that direct and indicate how affairs of state or country run. Different countries have their own system of governance depending on the will of the majority.
For example, people can vote to have the constitutional powers of their country bestowed on Presidency or in the Legislature. The two systems include presidential or parliamentary. Under parliamentary system, the Prime Minister administers government functions and is accountable to the legislature while, the President presides only on state observances.
However, as compared to parliamentary system, the Presidential system is widely applied in many countries, as only one person is responsible for the management of a country. 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.
Thus, the presidency assumes the role of the country’s diplomacy whereby, the constitution mandates the President to send high commissioners or ambassadors to various counties who will represent America’s interests and of course brief the President on every matter touching the nation abroad. Nevertheless, this presidential power has not changed because, as the head of state, the president is just ceremonial.
The only change exhibited is under this constitutional presidential power is perhaps the politics to surround it. Depending on the political insight of the sitting President, the president can marshal people to rally behind government policies and sometimes this can lead to criticism or support either at home or abroad.
Article II of United States Constitution noticeably, display presidential roles and powers. There are powers that the president performs as the head of the executive. The president also shares constitutional powers with the senate like signing of treaties and appointing diplomats, judges and other government officials. (Krent, pp. 2-4). Finally, the president shares some constitutional powers with Congress like signing or rejecting Congress bills.
There has been warring debates over centuries on the presidency. In fact, many people do argue that the executive should have more powers to withstand any test of time. There is no problem of having a strong Presidency but not the level of imperialism. The citizens expect many things from the presidency they deservedly elected.
However, it is astonishing to realize how big the gap between the public and the presidency becomes wider and wider. The constitution might be the problem as to why the presidency has changed. This is because; many presidents for example those in war torn areas and developing countries change the constitution so that they can retain in power for along time. The weak constitutional presidential powers mad Saddam Hussein to become a butcher where thousand and thousands of Iraqis died under his order.
Slobodan Milosevic faced war crimes within the international criminal court for ordering the massacre of thousand of civilians while in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe amended the constitution retaining him in power even today. Moreover, the main political party in Zimbabwe constantly arrest and maim Zimbabwean opposition leaders. This is total abuse of constitutional presidential powers.
At the dawn of the 20th century, presidential powers appeared tandem with the will of the people. For example, there have been remarkable changes in the constitutional presidency powers in United States. For example, precious American Presidents have used the power of conviction to draw support from the public.
They have used the presidential constitutional appointment mandate to hire people who will serve their interests into cabinet positions. They do so to maximize policy-making decisions and gain control over political situations. Article II of the American constitution give the President formal or enumerated powers in hiring any government official. However, the names must pass through the senate for approval.
The President has the mandate to propose names to the Senate for confirmation federal judges, diplomats, cabinet ministers, and executive head of departments. Additionally, the president has powers to sign bills into law, veto Congress bills though Congress has also the powers to overturn this by two-third majority. The President being the commander-in-chief can order military action notwithstanding, permission from Congress. (Gregg, McGuire, pp. 65-78).
American constitutional presidential powers have undergone major revolutionary, which many people can identify to be one of the histories in America. For example, the first American President George Washington exercised his commander-in-chief powers with a lot of constraint knowing that, successive Presidents to attack other nations will use his actions undoubtedly.
The constitution did allow presidents to take military action incase of emergency. However, there are no direct powers provided by the constitution for presidents to declare war.
This is a pure prerogative of the Congress and Presidents only assume implied powers to act they please. For example, during the administration of Jefferson and Washington, they ordered Navy Ships to emerge into non-American waters minus authorization from Congress. This is an act of implied powers, which have changed the constitutional powers of presidency over the recent years.
Another notable act that shows changes in constitutional presidency powers is what President Jefferson did. President Jefferson without the approval of Congress went ahead and made Louisiana Purchase. This means that, if the President has a strong political ground, the possibility of convincing people to follow the laid down policies even contrary to the constitution, is possible. (Westerfield, pp. 76-106, 117-132).
After the September 11 attack, President George Bush declared that America was never the same like it were on September 10. The presidential powers had changed. There is no clause in the American Constitution that allows presidents to lead a war touted to end terrorism. Nevertheless, many political analysts argue that, constitutional presidential powers change when there is war. Perhaps is the reason why American presidents assume more powers.
President Bush acquired more implied power leading many American to question the cherished liberties in American struggles. Some people argue that, Congress and the executive ought to share constitutional powers and such powers belong to the executive. Furthermore, the terrorists used American planes to carry terrorist attack in America. Therefore, Americans cannot assume to be defenders of liberties and stop defending their lives. (Yoo, pp. 55-88).
In the twilight of the attack, the President could detain people without revealing their identity contrary to the constitution. Nevertheless, after the September 11 attack, Congress instructed President Bush, the Commander-in-Chief, to use all machineries, tactics and any available mean and ensure America wins the war on terror campaigns.
In addition, Congress increased the constitutional presidential powers by passing the USA Patriot Act. The truth of the matter is that, President Bush did not receive an official decree to fight terrorism from Congress. Fear factor among Americans made them not to question much on this matter as many feared more terrorists attack. (Hanson, Para. 1-11).
Since the start of the twentieth century, presidential powers in America have really changed. Interestingly, the changes of constitutional powers occur when there is war or purported war. Several presidents had assumed more powers without Congress approval.
President Abraham Lincoln ordered the arrest of anybody who dared have mercy on the southerners. Police arrested about 13, 000 people and during President Roosevelt’s administration, he ordered the detainment many Japanese-Americans although his nation apologized for this dubious act.
It has now reached a state where the executive and Congress fight over the assumed constitutional presidential powers. Foreign and domestic policies emanate from White House, an act seen as assuming more executive powers. For example, Presidents Nixon, Clinton and Reagan managed to formulate new U.S foreign policies albeit divisions in Congress. This is a wholesome novel assertion of the constitutional powers of the presidency hence federal bureaucracy. (Annenberg, Para. 1-7).
White House continue to assume new administrative initiatives leading to the deterioration of checks and balances between the executive and Congress. Currently, the unilateral executive is proving immune to both Congress and Judiciary. The best way to describe it is by comparing it with a monarch or past executive powers, which existed during the age of Depression or World War II days.
Many Americans see this as one of the most worrying phenomenon to happen. For example, there is no clause in the American constitution, which gives the presidency powers to dictate what people eat, drink, acquire healthcare or control racial discriminations.
This is a task performed by Congress. The involvement of the executive in providing these needs is pure trespass of constitutional powers meant to draw attention from the public just for political reasons. Though the federal government is doing the best in terms of offering services to the public, it is still buoyant administrative bureaucracy. (Shane, Para. 1-13).
Another major change in constitution presidency powers over recent years is on matters relating to foreign affairs. Currently, American Presidents behave like world army commanders where the U.S armies offer military services.
From nuclear proliferation in Iraq, to ethnic cleansing in Southern Darfur, American presidents continue to send thousand of American troops with the hope of calming situations. This is not a matter provided in the American Constitution but since America is a superpower, Constitutional powers must change in order to serve these interests.
Foreign relations with developed countries under exigent conditions always force the Presidency to draft new foreign policies to achieve these volatile immediacies. Every country and nation needs a coherent foreign policy to embody its interests abroad. Thus, since the President Is the image of a country abroad, the executive find no otherwise in drafting new policies though a prerogative of Congress.
However, these constitutional powers ought to be guarded jealously rest they escalate in an expediency of authoritarianism. Authoritative powers hamper individual rights, freedom of expression, individual liberties besides making nations or countries more democratic. Presidents can now solve international hostile situations like global warming, nuclear proliferation, human rights abuse, AIDS pandemic and poverty in developing nations. (Craig, pp. 345-289).
There is a great difference between the modern and Depression Presidencies. Modern presidents lead large governments where the executive plays a paramount role in Congress. For example, constitutional powers have change to allow Presidents have many advisors on policymaking, security and financial briefings.
The White House Chief of Staff is responsible for every action the President does or will perform. If an error occurs somewhere, the first blame lie on the Chief of Staff. With the available bureaucracy, modern Presidents are likely to increase their fame and popularity.
Unlike in the past, presidential candidates can campaign via the media. Under modern presidential campaigns, propaganda over a certain President spreads easily via, radio, television or the internet. After wining the election, the President can use the modern technology popularly known as teleconferencing to address the nation. Although this is not a constitutional power, there is an indication depicting change in constitutional presidency powers. The first President to use this technology was President Reagan.
In conclusion, constitutional powers on presidency have greatly changed. The executive is now a big player in Congress. The executive initiate most policies like the U.S foreign policy although in the past, Congress did this.
As the Commander-in-Chief, the President can declare a state of emergence and even send troops to war minus the consent or approval of Congress. Nevertheless, nobody can denounce the institution of presidency as unnecessary. Modern presidents have informal, implied and formal powers that make them appear performers. American has instigated the changes in constitutional powers themselves.
This is because; Americans want an assertive president who will address both international and domestic issues with finality. Moreover, they need new policies that assure them on good governance coupled with actions. Perhaps this is the main reasons why constitutional Presidential powers keep on changing. It does not matter infringing the roles of Congress. The scary part is to enjoy public support even by assuming some constitutional clauses.
Annenberg, Media. Modern Presidency: Tools of Power. 2010. Web. 8 April. 2010.
Craig, Mathews. The Constitutional Power of the President to Conclude International Agreements. The Yale Law Journal, 64(3), 1955, 345-389.
Gregg, Ivers, McGuire, Kevin. Creating Constitutional change: clashes over power and liberty in the Supreme Court. Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2004. Print. 65-78 on crisis
Hanson, Harding. The Power of the Presidency: How has the president’s job changed since September 11? 2002. Web. 8 April. 2010.
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. 8 April. 2010.
Sotirios, Barber, Robert, George. Constitutional Politics: essays on constitutional making, maintenance and change. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001.Print.
Westerfield, Donald. War powers: the president, congress, and the question of war. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 1996. Print.
Yoo, John. The powers of war and peace: the constitution and foreign affairs after 9/11 attack. Chicago: University of Chicago press, 2005. Print.