The How the U.S. President works.


How does the U.S. President work?

Whether you think that the United States President is the head of a nation or the leader of the free world, there can be absolutely no doubt that it’s an incredibly powerful position to hold, not only within America, but throughout the entire world. Consider some of the changes the country and the world has seen due to the efforts of men such as James Monroe, who created the Monroe Doctrine which separated the world into two hemispheres. Or John F. Kennedy who went to such extremes as to provide the security of the National Guard of 2 black students when they entered the campus of University of Alabama so that the desegregation of schools could begin. And even more recently, George W. Bush ordered $200 million from the emergency fund to be given to nations that were suffering from hunger due to lack of food supply. Nations such as Cairo, Manila, and Port Au Prince were helped by this effort. So how does one person make such on impact on the world in a relatively short amount of time? How can one person be so powerful and, what responsibilities must be adhered to in order for the advantages to be taken? How exactly does the office of the U.S. President work?

In order to become President of the United States, technically a person must only meet 3 criteria, according to the U.S. Constitution. The first requirement is that the person must have been born in the United States (or on American foreign soil.) The second is that the person must have lived in the United States for a minimum of 14 years, although the Constitution does not specify whether or not those years must have been consecutive. And lastly, any person running for the United States President must be 35 years or older when they officially take office. While these requirements are still in place today there are also some less formal requirements as well, and the campaign leading up to the election is the place to prove that the person meets these requirements. Some of these are: being part of a political network, winning over public opinion, and being educated about national and global issues and being able to debate those issues knowledgably.

The Constitution also very clearly states some rules and regulations that the President must adhere to while in office. These are:
  • A presidential term should be for a period of four years.
  • While in office, it’s the responsibility of the President to honestly oversee and execute the laws of the United States.
  • Upon taking office, the President must take the Presidential Oath: “I do so solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
  • When the military is in a state of being under federal command, the President will act as Commander in Chief for all military and state militias.
  • Unless the President has been impeached, they can grant pardons.
  • The President can form treaties with other countries but must have the consent of the Senate to do so.
  • The President also has the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices, ambassadors, and positions within other public offices, but the Senate must confirm this.
  • During a State of the Union address the President must address Congress.
  • When foreign heads of country and other officials visit the United States, the President must be in attendance to welcome them.
  • The President’s salary is currently $400,000 a year plus $50,000 annually for expenses and $100,000 for traveling expenses.
  • If the President is charged with a crime, they can be taken out of office through an impeachment process.
  • The President is responsible for proposing bills to Congress and if Congressional laws are being passed, the President can stop them from going through with their veto power.

Just as with the presidential requirements, the responsibilities of the President and the requirements that must be met have changed throughout the years. It was during Franklin Roosevelt’s 3 consecutive years that the 22nd amendment was introduced, which stated that the president may only serve 2 terms however, these don’t need to be served consecutively. It’s important to note however, that what the term of a President will look like will greatly depend on their relationship with Congress and their relationship with the public. No one presidency will ever be identical to another and while the requirements of Congress are still adhered to, there are other obligations the President has that are less formal and sometimes, exceptions to the rules are made, such as when Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France without the approval of Congress. And just like that decision, the decisions the President makes affect millions of people, are written down in history books, and the effects are still felt for generations to come.

It may be easier to look at how the office of the President works by comparing it to being the CEO of a major company, except of course that instead of a company, they are the CEO of an entire country. When they enter office, they have an agenda of what they would like to accomplish during their term, or terms, and they make plans to follow through with that agenda with the resources that they have available to them within the country. They appoint heads of departments, such as the Department of Defense, to communicate with them and tell them what they can give to the country, and what they need from the country, such as funding. These department heads are actually called Cabinet heads and there are 15 of them in total. The Cabinet heads make up a large part of the President’s agenda, in that they represent the resources that the President has available to him/her in order to carry through with their agenda. During the inauguration the President will explain their goals for their term, and the plans on how to accomplish them. After that, they will redefine old goals, and institute new ones during quarterly State of the Union addresses. It is this agenda that will provide much of the work of Congress will be responsible for doing over the course of the term, as they deliberate about which bills to pass and which bills not to pass. Although Congress does much of this work, the President does even more so when it comes to passing legislature and making the agenda.

Working as Commander in Chief, the President can control and command the military in all aspects but according to the Constitution, only Congress can actually declare war. However this too, is another area of the President’s role and responsibilities that have changed over time. Congress has only declared war 5 times: The War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. However, public opinion on the war on Iraq in 2001 would most likely be that it was George W. Bush that declared this war, and rightfully so. This action is one exception to the rule that only Congress can declare war. President Bush was able to declare war on Afghanistan after the September 11th attack due to the charters of the United Nations and NATO, which state that a nation can retaliate after a direct attack.

The President also has what are known as domestic responsibilities and these are mainly responsibilities pertaining to the laws and the economy. The legal responsibilities are to ensure that the laws of the country are being carried through and abided by and the economic responsibilities involve things such as creating a national budget and overseeing the creation of new regulatory bodies. These bodies become very important, as was the case of the Department of Labor, which was created to fight for worker’s rights and also created another Cabinet position. The creation of the national budget is an enormous job which must directly discuss in full detail where the federal funding will be spent and it accounts for every dollar. The budget takes a long time to create and a team of many, many people.

Aside from domestic responsibilities, the President has many responsibilities in terms of foreign relations as well. It is due to these relations that past Presidents have created, and other relations that have naturally been formed, that the United States can communicate with other countries and do great work globally, while always knowing what will be best for their own country. In addition to working with other countries, the President also has the power to create treaties with other countries with approval from Congress. However, a President does not need permission when choosing not to sign a treaty, just as President Clinton declined to sign the Kyoto Treaty. The President also serves as a figurehead to other nations. They represent the United States when visiting other countries and depending on how they are perceived, they can make a country either hate the United States or love them. This is one of the largest parts of being President.

One cannot look at how the presidency works without considering how the First Family, the family of the President, works and their role during the President’s term. The First Family is often scrutinized by the media partly because they lead such an interesting life and more in part due to the fact that it’s the role the President plays within that family and how they govern their own lives that reflects how they will run the country. The First Lady, the President’s wife, plays a huge role within the White House and politically as she is expected to support her husband fully in whatever he does and can often play a huge part in having legislation pass. Nancy Reagan showed full support of her husband when she launched her own “Just Say No” campaign in conjunction with President Reagan’s war against drugs and Hillary Clinton showed what huge strides the First Lady could make when she made such a positive impact on health care. The President, the First Lady, and the First Children are generally those who live in the White House, which is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. although the President can choose to live with anyone he wishes. The First Family can also make renovations to the White House and have certain things, such as a bowling alley, installed and most presidents have taken advantage of this.

The President has many special perks for being President to go along with his salary. The first is Air Force One, which is a specialized airplane that was created when President John F. Kennedy ordered that there be a plane created to be ‘a flying White House.’ This aircraft is designed so that the President can get to anywhere in the world that he wants to get to, in a very short time, and as fast as possible. Today, the official Air Force One is actually a pair of Boeing 747’s but the term ‘Air Force One’ is actually the call sign for any aircraft carrying the President. Marine One is the helicopter that is designated for the President’s use. Camp David is a cabin retreat in the mountains that every President has full access to and has had since Franklin Roosevelt. This retreat is used not only by the President when they need some downtime but is also the sight of many important events, such as the Camp David Peace Accord between Egypt and Israel, which Jimmy Carter hosted.

Once the term or terms have been served, a President can do whatever they choose. Some try to lead a quiet life out of the public’s eye while some remain in the political centre and try and continue on with their work. Whichever they choose to do, the Former President Act does guarantee some rights to President’s after they have left the office. After leaving office, a former President will be granted the same salary as a Cabinet member, which is approximately $161,000 annually. The former President is also given an office, complete with staff, for 4.5 years.

the U.S. President.

 The How the U.S. President works of the U.S. President.

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