Dialnet-TheSeparationOfPowersInUnitedStatesOfAmerica-3046701.pdf

A major question was how could a president seek

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A major question was how could a president seek another term of office of the he was to be elected by Congress? To gain re-election would he not yield to congressional demands? The eventual solution, the electoral college, eliminated this difficulty. 24. The Federalist , 51/268. 25. This is the principal reason for two houses, though the popularly accepted (but erroneous) view today is that principal reason was to act as a brake on the first. 26. The primary purpose of the veto is all but forgotten in modern text dealing with the American system. Instead, emphasis in placed on the secondary function which ultimately serves to bring into question the Framers commitment to popular government. The same may be said of the 269
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Madison’s remarks concerning the presidential veto, though brief, are revealing. He acknowledges that, “at first view,” “an absolute negative” would appear to be “the natural defence with which the executive should be armed.” Indeed, the absolute negative would have been in keeping with Montesquieu’s thinking. But Madison, reflecting the concerns raised in the Constitutional Convention, points out that such a veto power might not be “altogether safe, nor alone sufficient”: “On ordinary occasions, it might not be exerted with the requisite firmness; and on extraordinary occasions, it might be perfidiously abused.” He does appear to regard this lack of an absolute veto to be something of a shortcoming when he writes that “this defect of an absolute negative” can perhaps be overcome “by some qualified connexion between this weaker department [the executive], and the weaker branch of the stronger department [the Senate].” 27 On this score, it would appear, he believed a bond might develop between the executive and the Senate since they had to cooperate in the performance of important functions and duties such as executive and judicial appointments and treaty making. These constitutional provisions for the separation of powers would be for naught lacking the “personal motives,” the second pillar in the solution for maintaining the constitutional partition. What good, for example, is the veto power, if the executive fails to wield it when necessary to protect his constitutional authority? At the outset of Madison’s discussion of personal motives are found the most frequently quoted passages from The Federalist : “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition”; “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”; or “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” These observations point to an underlying strategy, that is, “supplying by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives” in order that the constitutional provisions will operate to secure the constitutional separation.
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