American Government and the Presidency


The American president is one of the most powerful leaders in the world. Presidents in the U.S. campaign for office rely on their policy agendas which outline their objectives for the course of their term. The president is the head of state and the executive branch and has the power to ensure laws are faithfully executed, to ask for written opinions from administrative bodies, and to make appointments when the Senate is in recess.

The Powers of the Presidency

One of the president’s most critical executive powers is their position as the commander-in-chief of the American Armed Forces. The Constitution (Section 2) grants them the power to declare war and to control the military during such circumstances. Presidents have the authority to fire executive officials, and they can issue presidential proclamations and executive orders to control the operations of the federal government. However, this control is subject to a legal review to determine if the proclamations are constitutional. Additionally, Congress can use legislation to overturn any executive order that they pass. This indicates that although the president has certain powers, they are subject to other arms of government to ensure that they do not misuse their powers.

The foreign affairs policy also confers on the president powers which they can exercise during the term. Article II (Section 3, Clause 4) gives the president power over foreign policy, allowing them to receive ambassadors and confer ambassadorial acknowledgment on other governments. They can appoint ambassadors and ensure that negotiations between the U.S. and other countries are seamless. These negotiations are perceived as a binding based on federal law once the Senate evaluates them and consents to their content.

Judicial power allows the president to nominate federal judges to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, and to grant pardons. According to Article II (Section 2, Clause 1) of the Constitution, the president can pardon individuals who have committed crimes against the country, apart from cases of impeachment. However, this power has created much controversy, and every time the president proffers a controversial pardon, critics argue that their power should be limited. For instance, President Ford’s pardon of President Nixon in 1974 and President Trump’s pardon of Sherriff Joe Arpaio for criminal contempt in 2017 generated increased demands for limitations (Eckstein and Colby 72). However, presidents possess this power and can use it at their discretion based on the guidelines in the Constitution.

The president has legislative power under the Presentment Clause which allows them to sign and veto bills approved by Congress (Miller 2). The president also presents information on the State of the Union to Congress, adjourns Congress when the Senate and the House are in disagreement, and convenes Congress on extraordinary sessions. This power allows the president to ensure that the representatives are using their powers to create valid and useful policies for national development.

The Limitations of the Presidency

Although the Constitution (Article II) provides boundaries for presidential power, there is often much debate when the president exercises their authority. This is often because of the ambiguous nature of the president’s supremacy and the areas in which congressional and presidential power overlap. Such tension and controversy are mostly evident during wars as each arm of government attempts to gain control over the situation. Additionally, although presidents can fire executive officials at will, Congress can prevent them from firing junior executives as well as commissioners who serve on independent regulatory agencies. They can issue presidential proclamations and executive orders, but a legal review or Congress can cancel their orders if they are perceived to be unconstitutional. Congress can also overrule a bill that the president has vetoed or signed as long as it obtains a two-thirds majority from both Houses (Miller 2). Generally, the president is limited by various checks and balances so that they do not misuse power.

Qualifications for the Presidency

The American Constitution stipulates the qualifications required for someone to run for the presidency. They must be 35 years old, a natural-born citizen of the US, and must have been a resident in the country for the last 14 years (The White House). The presidency is limited to two terms that total eight years. An individual who meets the above qualifications can nevertheless be prevented from running for office. For example, they cannot seek the position if they have been previously impeached as outlined in the Constitution (Article I, Section 3) or have violated the Constitution and rebelled against the U.S.

Significant Presidents in American History

Up to date, the U.S. has had 46 presidents, and some of them are more remarkable than others. Abraham Lincoln is ranked among the most notable ones because he reunited the country and abolished slavery by making emancipation a war measure. However, to achieve this, he was forced to break several constitutional laws such as making war without a declaration (Burlingame par. 6). Franklin D. Roosevelt is remembered for his efforts in launching the New Deal during the Great Depression and thus saving the economy. George Washington was noteworthy for his leadership during the War of Independence in which he was able to unify his troops.

Role of the Cabinet

The Cabinet is inferred in the Constitution (Article II, Section 2) and its main role is that of advising the president on a variety of issues. It consists of the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments and it is part of the executive branch of government. The members have the power to declare that the president is unfit to govern the country according to the duties of his office. The president appoints them and also has the authority to dismiss them at will.

Role of White House Staff

The White House staff are usually political appointees, and their role is to work for and report directly to the president. They have a significant impact on the daily tasks, policy agendas, discussions, and public communications related to the presidency. The members of this staff usually have varying expertise which they can use to advise the president and to manage the latter’s political and policy interests.

Changes in the position of Vice President

The individuals who have served as vice presidents have differed significantly in their abilities for the post, and the position has changed over the years. The Constitution (Article I, Section 3) states that a vice president can be the President of the Senate but not have a vote unless the Senate is divided. However, in recent times, the position has evolved into one that focuses more on executive duties, and the vice president is perceived as an important part of the presidential administration (United States Senate par. 14). They will only preside over the Senate on ceremonial occasions or when they are needed to break a tie during a discussion. However, despite the changing nature of the office, it is still largely influenced by the abilities and talents of the individual holding the position.


Although the president has significant power, they have limitations to ensure they do not misuse their office. The president has executive, judicial, legislative, and foreign policy control, but Congress can limit this authority to check their actions. However, they have the vice president and the White House staff, who can help in an advisory capacity to ensure that the president’s governance practices satisfy the needs of the citizens.

Works Cited

Burlingame, Michael. “Abraham Lincoln: Impact and Legacy.” Miller Center, 2019. Web.

Eckstein, Paul F., and Mikaela Colby. “Presidential Pardon Power: Are There Limits and, If Not, Should There Be.” Arizona State Law Journal, vol. 51, 2019, pp. 71-108.

Miller, Nicholas R. “Executive Veto Power and Constitutional Design.” The Oxford Handbook of Public Choice, vol. 2., 2017, pp. 1-19.

The White House. “Our Government: The Executive Branch,”. Web.

United States Senate. “Vice President of the United States (President of the Senate),”. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2022, February 16). American Government and the Presidency. Retrieved from


DemoEssays. (2022, February 16). American Government and the Presidency.

Work Cited

"American Government and the Presidency." DemoEssays, 16 Feb. 2022,


DemoEssays. (2022) 'American Government and the Presidency'. 16 February.


DemoEssays. 2022. "American Government and the Presidency." February 16, 2022.

1. DemoEssays. "American Government and the Presidency." February 16, 2022.


DemoEssays. "American Government and the Presidency." February 16, 2022.