As Barack Obama stepped down and continued the tradition of peaceful transfer of power, another man with radically different political goals took his place. Donald J. Trump was elected November 8th 2016 and since then his administration has begun sweeping changes via the dismantling of regulatory executive agencies such as the EPA, and other executive orders, such as the ban on travel between us and seven Middle Eastern and African countries. But what does the leader of the free world really do?
A very important power of the president is called an executive order. In the first two weeks of his presidency Donald Trump has used his single-most powerful tool liberally. Presidents have been getting stronger since the beginning of our government. Executive Orders, according to NBC, “stem from a president’s desire to bypass Congress. The legislative body is not required to approve any executive order, nor can it overturn an order. The best it can do if it doesn’t like an executive order is to pass a law to cut funding for the order’s implementation. But even then, the president can veto such a defunding law.”
The President is the Chief Executive Power; Commander in chief of the army, his decisions affect every aspect of our government. The president’s role isn’t covered in the constitution extensively, so its hard to say where the limit was intended to be. Throughout our history the presidency was shaped by the wearing down of time.
Franklin Roosevelt expanded the power of the presidency in the New Deal by issuing over 3,000 executive orders over the course of his presidency. With the start of World War II, FDR issued the executive order to force any US citizen of Japanese descent into internment camps, which has been regarded as one of the more deplorable acts in US history. FDR was also the only president that had served for more than two terms. Another time decades later, during the 70s, Nixon reluctantly begun the Environmental protection agency and passed the Clean Air Act due to public pressure.
According to the Constitution, Congress should be the center of lawmaking as well as deciding whether or not we go to war. However, during the cold war, the president was given unilateral authority over the CIA, which during this time was doing a lot of shady things abroad to say the least. (Klein) A president has tried to wage full out war without congress’s approval, which ended up as the 1973-war powers act which checks the President’s power to commit to conflict.
Which brings us to the fact that our separation of powers; checks and balances itself but it doesn’t operate the way people think it does. The president is the leader of party, country, and entire executive branch. But he’s not all powerful. He’s not superman. He needs cooperation from party and the nation. Guantanamo bay is a good example of party blocking, for example; Bush was blocked and Obama was blocked by both his own party and the GOP. He had to sidestep congress and execute his executive order just like so many presidents before Obama.
In 2014, Obama tried to revamp immigration processes and help undocumented migrants in his executive order but was blocked by the state of Texas along with 26 other states; In United States v. Texas, No. 15-674. Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, stated “Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: One person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law, This is a major setback to President Obama’s attempts to expand executive power, and a victory for those who believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law.”
While a President’s executive orders were ultimately meant to further the quality of life for the common American and therefore fulfill their duty, a check of powers is necessary in order for a government to work sustainability and service its people properly. A solid democratic and representative Government is not based on the whims of a single administration, or a single group of people. It is based on the strength that our diversity and our reason brings us.
Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Metropolitan /Henry Holt, 2007. Print.