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Curbing presidential authority is the subject of the novel, The Blessings of Liberty, written by Michael Les Benedict, which details an interpretation of the American constitution showing leadership and power in the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the Presidency. The book provides a straightforward case study of the development of the American constitution and its historical context.
Curving Presidential Power
Presidential dominance in America has been encouraged by the President's right to exercise public policy over the Congress, granting him the power to lay down and enforce laws and regulations without considering prior consultation with the Congress; The Blessings of Liberty, "American's looked to the president rather than the congress to inaugurate public policy". This was witnessed by the misrepresentation of people between the 1930s and 1970s under President Richard M. Nixon after the Watergate scandal (Benedict, 351).
In the Roosevelt’s era of presidency, the conservatives who had great representation than the liberals always saw Presidential proposals defeated by conservative republicans and southern democrats despite having strong presidential power. Presidential power was evident where a president could either deploy troops without consultation or discussion with the congress; “In 1958 President Eisenhower sent troops to the Middle East without congressional authorization” (Benedict, 351) .Though this has been critiqued, succeeding American presidents have continued to follow the track of their predecessors. For instance, when President Truman was questioned about such actions, he justified them by citing their innate power to protect national security (Benedict, 352).
Though the conservatives were dissatisfied with presidential influence and tried amending the constitution to limit presidential service to two terms, they were unable to counter the power influence, as the president is the Commander in Chief, which gives him power to undertake foreign military relations (Benedict, 352; 353). Presidential power was highly inherent during the reign of President Nixon (a conservative) who authorized war in Vietnam and bombing of Cambodia without authorization of the congress. He would also order his subordinates “plumbers named for stopping information from leaking”, to lie to the congress claiming to protect national security (Benedict, 354).
The main source of presidential power was on their responsibility to declare national emergencies that needed no consultation with the Congress and matters of national security that also did not need press interference (Benedict, 355). Presidents would also hit hard on firms and non-profit institutions that opposed their policies by imposing tax audits. This left them with no option but they had to comply leaving the President with control and regulatory power .In addition, some of the Presidents would form secret agents who would even outdo the cabinet. This meant that they would be left to make major decisions on secret service leaving no room for the cabinet consultations (Benedict, 356).
Everything revolutionized to curb the existing Presidential power in the eras of presidents Gerald Ford (1974-1977) and Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) (Benedict, 357). Both were transparent and disseminated information for discussion in the Congress hence facilitated their authorization of key public policies and legislation of laws in consultation with the Supreme Court. The president would only declare national emergencies through procedures set by the Senate which lead to the control of Presidential power (Benedict, 358). Moreover, the Congress was granted veto power to authorize the President and governmental agencies to implement a public policy. Congress also gained its full powers of law making and commencement. This marked the development of a transparent, fair and collaborative Congress, Federal Government and the Supreme Court in America (Benedict, 359).
Benedict, Michael Les. The Blessings of Liberty. 1st ed., Boston [U.A.], Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
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