The President Chapter 13 Section 1—The president’s Job Description The President must fill a number of roles all at one time. These roles include: chief of state chief executive chief administrator chief diplomat commander in chief chief legislator party chief chief citizen 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. Chief Executive 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 country. Chief Administrator the ultimate boss of everyone President is employed by the federal government. The government can only operate through people and agencies that “administer” the laws. Chief Diplomat President is the maker of and spokesman for American Foreign Policy 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 important protection against tyranny. Chief Legislator 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 national party supports. Chief Citizen Representative of the people against private interests. Public watch-dog. Not all Presidents have embraced this role. T. Roosevelt did to a great degree Qualifications Formal Qualifications Natural-Born Citizen 35 years old Lived in the US for at least 14 years Informal Qualifications? 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 terms. 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 inherited. Pay and Benefits Presidents Salary is fixed by Congress (can’t be increased or decreased during the president’s term). Currently 400,000. 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 resignation. Five of our last 11 presidents have been vice presidents at some point. Humphrey, Mondale and Gore were nominated by their parties. 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 Amendment Congress fixes the order of succession after VP. Currently Speaker of the House; President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Presidential Succession Act of 1947 No longer as important. Because of 25th Amendment Presidential Disability Before the 25th Amendment there was no provision for dealing with a disabled president. Garfield and Wilson 25th Amendment fixes this problem 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. Presidential Disability 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. Disability disputes: 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 senate break ties, help decide questions of presidential disability. History of the VP A dead-end job a way to get rid of troublesome politicians. Some dreadful VPs. VP was often selected for political reasons VP’s were often jettisoned between elections Historically, VPs have had little direct involvement in government. Why? Modern VP 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 and responsibility? Will the trend continue? VP now a stepping stone to White House Section 3—Presidential Selection: The Framers’ Plan The Framers engaged in lots of debate about how to choose the president. Possibilities— 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 of electors 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, becomes President. Person with the second most votes becomes Vice President. 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 two. Intended that electors be bright, respectable free agents. 12th Amendment Original system worked for only three elections. 1800. Rise of parties messes up the system. Jefferson v. Adams (v. Burr) 12th Amendment Separates vote for president and Vice President Section 4—Nominating Presidential Candidates Today Constitution does not provide a method of selecting candidates, because didn’t foresee parties. A number of methods have been used over the years. Congressional Caucus—1800-1824. Both parties congressional delegations met and chose a candidate. Was objected to because not democratic. Conventions 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 delegates. Summer before the presidential election. By tradition the party out of power goes first in July, then the party in power in August. Conventions Usually in a major city with the facilities to handle. Also often in a city that is strategically important. Party tells each state how many delegates they will have. super-delegates 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 Primaries 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 by mid-spring. 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 requirement. 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 candidates. 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 Washington. 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 distributed evenly. Flaws in the Electoral College The Second Major Defect Unfaithful Electors. 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.
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