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Does The Public Have Unrealistic Expectations For The Presidency?

1860 words - 7 pages

The president has a significant amount of power; however, this power is not unlimited, as it is kept in check by both the judicial and legislative branches. The president is held responsible for passing legislation that will improve the lives of everyday Americans, even though he shares his legislative powers with Congress. The sharing of power acts as an impediment to the president’s ability to pass legislation quickly and in the form it was originally conceived. However, Americans do not take this into account when judging a president, as they fully expect him to fulfill all of the promises he makes during his campaign. By making promises to pass monumental legislation once elected without mentioning that Congress stands as an obstacle that must be hurdled first, the president creates unrealistic expectations of what he can fulfill during his time in office (Jenkins-Smith, Silva, and Waterman, 2005). A president is expected to have the characteristics that will allow him to efficiently and effectively lead the nation and to accomplish the goals he set during his campaign (Jenkins-Smith et al., 2005). There have been a handful of presidents that have been immortalized as the ideal person to lead the United States and if a president does not live up to these lofty expectations the American public will inevitably be disappointed. Since every president is expected to accomplish great things during his presidency, he is forced to created and project a favorable image through unrealistic promises. The combination of preconceived ideas of the perfect president and the various promises made by presidential candidates during their campaign create unrealistic expectations of the president by the American public.
The constitutional framework of government was not designed to facilitate executive leadership, but rather to limit it most of the time (Wayne 2012, 97). In Federalist No. 62, James Madison defends bicameralism by stating that “the facility and excess of lawmaking seem to be the disease to which our governments are most liable,” and that it made sense to provide for a second legislative chamber to serve an “additional impediment… against improper acts of legislation” (Stephenson 2013, 332). This system makes legislation more difficult to pass while at the same time facilitating both moderation and preservation of the status quo (Stephenson 2013, 333). The founders feared tyranny and created the current system of checks and balances to ensure that the United States did not significantly stray from their original intents, and if it did it would have to be done gradually and through compromise. Separation of powers not only makes it more difficult to enact legislation, but it also makes it more difficult to repeal or modify an enacted statute (Stephenson 2013, 335). This is yet another way to ensure that the status quo is maintained, for if a law gathers enough support to be passed, it frequently remains unaltered. The president...

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