The Presidency - The Presidency The Power of the President...

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The Presidency The Power of the President Versus Other Institutions Two models of executive leadership exist in representative democracies, prime ministers and presidents. A prime minister is chosen not by the voters, but by members of Parliament. In Britain's parliamentary system, for example, the prime minister is a party leader, chosen by elected officials of the party, and selected on the basis of the ability to hold the party together inside Parliament. Once in power, the prime minister appoints other ministers (cabinet officers) from among members of his or her party in Parliament, a fact that gives the prime minister great leverage over party members. In addition, the prime minister is assured of a great deal of loyalty from ministers because of the tradition of collective responsibility, which requires ministers publicly to support all government policies or, if in disagreement, to resign from office. Moreover, the prime minister is shielded from bearing personal blame for policy failures through the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, which obliges the minister with responsibility for a department with a failed policy to resign. A prime minister is quite likely to have had high-level administrative experience in the national government as well as in Parliament itself. Presidents, on the other hand, are chosen by conventions in which party professionals are a minority; they are chosen in election years with an eye to appealing to a majority of the voters and are unlikely to have had administrative experience in Washington. They often lack a majority in one or both houses of Congress, and they select cabinet members to reward personal followers, recognize interest groups, or gain expertise in the cabinet. The president's constitutionally defined powers, found mostly in Article 11, are not impressive. The power of commander-in-chief was, at first, not considered to entail much authority; the main military force was expected to be state militias, and the president, according to Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., was thought to lack any independent offensive capability without prior congressional approval. When the navy captured a pirate vessel, for example, Thomas Jefferson ordered the ship released because the president "was unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense." The president also possesses the power to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The wording seems to imply that the president is allowed to do no more than carry out the laws of Congress, but subsequent Supreme Court interpretations of this clause, notably In re Neagle (1890), have expanded the scope of presidential authority to act without a specific congressional mandate in domestic affairs. Nonetheless, the chief source of increased presidential power can be found in politics and public opinion: the American people look to the president for leadership and hold him responsible for national affairs. In an influential
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The Presidency - The Presidency The Power of the President...

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