Section 1—The president’s Job
The President must fill a
number of roles all at one
time. These roles
chief of state
commander in chief
Chief of State
This means that he is
the ceremonial head
of the government.
This is a PR role,
much like the Queen
of England, who does
not have any real
power, but is the
symbol of the nation.
The Constitution vest thePresident with
the executive power of the United States.
That is broad power.
He is the one who carries out and
enforces laws and directs the operation of
the ultimate boss of everyone
employed by the federal government.
The government can only operate through
people and agencies that “administer” the
President is the
maker of and
Commander in Chief
President is the
ultimate boss of
everyone in the
armed forces and
controls the generals.
Civilian control over
the military is one of
the hall-marks of a
democracy and an
This is not part of President’s official job
description, because Congress is in
charge of legislation.
Over time the presidents have become
active in setting the legislative agenda and
in proposing legislation through
congressman close to the administration.
Chief of Party
President is the head
of his political party
and can do much to
shape the direction it
takes and the types of
candidates that the
Representative of the
people against private
Not all Presidents
have embraced this
T. Roosevelt did to a
35 years old
Lived in the US for at
least 14 years
The President’s Term
Framers: unlimited four-year terms.
As a matter of practice, Presidents and
their parties followed Washington’s
example and limited themselves to two
FDR broke the no two-term tradition and
was elected four times.
In response, 22nd Amendment. Limits
president to two terms.
VP who becomes president can only run
once if filled more than half of term he
Pay and Benefits
Presidents Salary is fixed by
Congress (can’t be increased or
decreased during the president’s
Also, 50,000 expense account
Benefits—House, car, plane,
vacation home, offices and staff.
Former Presidents get pension
Section 2—Presidential Succession and
the Vice Presidency
One-in-five Vice Presidents
have become President
because of death or
Five of our last 11
presidents have been vice
presidents at some point.
Humphrey, Mondale and
Gore were nominated by
Vice Presidency is a much
more important stepping-
stone to the presidency
than it once was.
The Constitution and Succession
VP automatically takes over as
president if Pres. dies, resigns
or is removed from office.
John Tyler and the 25th
Congress fixes the order of
succession after VP. Currently
Speaker of the House; President
Pro Tempore of the Senate.
Presidential Succession Act of
No longer as important. Because
of 25th Amendment
Before the 25th Amendment
there was no provision for
dealing with a disabled
Garfield and Wilson
25th Amendment fixes this
Voluntary Disability (Sect. 3)
VP becomes acting president if
President informs congress in
writing that he is unable to
discharge the powers and duties
of the office.
Involuntary Disability (Sect. 4)
VP becomes acting president if VP and a majority of
the members of the cabinet inform Congress in
writing that the President is incapacitated.
Under both sections, President gets his powers back
once he informs Congress that there is no disability.
But, if VP and Majority of Congress challenge this
within four days, President does not get powers back
Congress then has 21 days to decide.
Must be a 2/3 vote of both houses that President is
unable to discharge duties.
The Vice Presidency
The VP has only
three formal duties:
Preside over the
help decide questions
History of the VP
A dead-end job
a way to get rid of troublesome
Some dreadful VPs.
VP was often selected for political
VP’s were often jettisoned
Historically, VPs have had little
direct involvement in government.
Section 2 of 25th Amendment provides
that president shall appoint a VP if the
office becomes vacant. Must be
confirmed by Congress.
Happened Twice. Ford; Nelson Rockefeller
Recent VPshave had much more power
Will the trend continue?
VP now a stepping stone to White House
Section 3—Presidential Selection: The
The Framers engaged in lots of debate
about how to choose the president.
Select by Congress
Select by direct election
Selected by state legislatures
Selected by specially elected electors.
Pros and Cons of Each?
Original Constitutional Plan
President to be selected by a special body
Each state would have as many electors
as it had representative AND Senators.
Electors chosen in each state by a method
specified by the state legislature.
Each elector casts two votes for president,
can’t double up.
Counted in a joint session of Congress
Original Constitutional Plan
Person with the most votes, if a majority,
Person with the second most votes becomes
If tie, or no majority, President selected by the
House of Rep. between top three.
If tie for VP, chosen by the Senate between top
Intended that electors be bright, respectable free
Original system worked for
only three elections.
1800. Rise of parties
messes up the system.
Jefferson v. Adams (v.
Separates vote for president
and Vice President
Section 4—Nominating Presidential
Constitution does not provide a method of
selecting candidates, because didn’t
A number of methods have been used
over the years.
Both parties congressional delegations met
and chose a candidate. Was objected to
because not democratic.
A big meeting at which delegates from
each state vote to determine who the
nominee will be.
Mostly governed by party rules and a few
state laws effecting the selecting of
Summer before the presidential election.
By tradition the party out of power goes
first in July, then the party in power in
Usually in a major city
with the facilities to
handle. Also often in
a city that is
Party tells each state
how many delegates
they will have.
Selection of Delegates
Delegates are selected in a number of ways.
In the early days of primaries, delegates came to the
convention as free agents; unclear who the candidate
would be before the convention began.
Now, delegates usually come to the convention pledged
to a particular candidate, so that outcome of convention
vote is well-known before-hand.
Presidential Primaries: 3/4 of all delegates come from
states that hold primary election where votes select
delegates that will vote for a particular candidate.
Rest pick delegates at caucuses
Process varies greatly from state to state
because process controlled by state law.
States prefer to hold their primaries first. Why?
The primaries have come earlier and earlier to
the point that in 2004 the nominees were clear
Democrats prohibit winner-take-all primaries, so
that delegates are divided based on vote totals
to long as a candidate polls at least 15 percent.
Now few winner-take-all primaries because state
laws have accommodated the democratic
Evaluation of the Presidential Primary
While complicated, are also vital
and important. Help test the
candidates to make sure that the
one selected is able to handle the
pressures of a campaign.
Allow dark-horses, such as Jimmy
Carter and Bill Clinton, to emerge.
Becoming harder for unknowns to
break through. Need more money
and organization at the outset.
The Electoral College Today
Voters don’t vote for the presidential candidates,
they vote for electors pledged to those
Presidential Election (for electors) is always on
the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
(Date is set by Congress.)
Electors are winner take all in all states except
Maine and Nebraska.
In most states, the names of the electors do not
even appear on the ballot.
Section 6—The Election
Electors meet in the state capitals on the
Monday after the second Wednesday in
December. Votes are cast, sealed and sent to
Votes are opened and counted on January 6.
If no candidate has a majority (270 of 538) , the
House of representatives must select the
president from the top three candidates.
If the house fails to pick a President by January
20, under the 20th Amendment the newly
elected Vice President shall act as President
until it does.
Flaws in the Electoral College
the chance that the person
First problem is
receiving the majority of votes will not win
the presidency. Two reasons,
1) winner take all nature of electoral votes
means that it doesn’t matter by how many
votes one wins a state.
2) Secondly, electoral votes are not
Flaws in the Electoral College
The Second Major Defect
The Third Major Defect
Elections could be determined by the House.
Voting is by states and thus the small states have a
much bigger voice.
Also, if a state’s delegates can’t agree, they could
loose their vote entirely, since it is a collective vote.
Also, must be a majority vote. They might not be able
to get a majority, either.