The Presidency

Learn how the framers used the Constitution to deal with their mistrust over the creation of the presidency and how things have changed since then. Those changes may be impacting our trust in the office today.


Part 1: The Framer's Mistrust

How did the framer's trust and distrust shape their views on the presidency? What does the Constitution say about what presidents must and must not do?

Part 2: New Power from the People

How did the formation of political parties and changes in the way states instructed their electors at the Electoral College affect the presidency? What are the implications for presidential power, partisanship, and accountability?

Part 3: Original Powers Deepened

The president’s powers for war-making, treaty-making, and supervising the federal bureaucracy deepened over time. What were the changes and what are the consequences?

Part 4: Delegated Powers

Delegation of powers. What budgetary, regulatory, and emergency powers did Congress delegate to the presidency? How has that altered the balance of power?

Part 5: Implied Powers

What are implied powers? What are executive orders? Can presidents use discretion in which laws to enforce and how?

Part 6: Accountability

How accountable is the president, and to whom? This section is all about accountability, executive privilege, and immunity in the criminal and civil courts.

Part 7: Citizens Have Power Too

What can we do to make the Executive Branch serve us well? How can we keep our republic? How can we push for good results from the presidency?

The Presidency 1

3.          When the framers created the presidency, they were intent on solving two trust-related problems.  One problem was how to harness political competition for the public good without the polarizing consequences they observed in England and Europe. They did not want anyone in any faction to mistrust a government that might be controlled by their opponents.  The other problem was how to balance the need for an empowered executive to get things done against the risk of a tyrannical executive. Image: George Washington, 1796. Gilbert Stuart.

We are offering one paragraph per day from our short course on the presidency. You can see other posts or get the full course, for free, by clicking below.



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