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Nixon And The Notion Of Presidential Power

1699 words - 7 pages

Richard Nixon and the Notion of Presidential Power"Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation." The idea that certain actions are not illegal if used to preserve the best interests of a nation has drawn sharp criticism from the time of Lincoln through today. Presidents of the United States do take a solemn oath in which they promise to " . . . preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States", but the means which they have employed to accomplish these ends have greatly differed and have occasionally sparked great controversy. The unjustified means which Richard Nixon used to defend this nation and its Constitution have drawn a great deal of attack not only on his methods but also on the greater notion of Presidential power.Many Presidents have faced many different tumultuous challenges and obstacles which have posed potential threats to American societal stability and security. Yet very few have used such controversial means to overcome these threats. For example, after the birth of the nation, Executives faced the threats of political division and the ideas of the many dangerous paths prescribed for the Union. As the debate over slavery escalated, the future of the states and of the Union seemed uncertain. Furthermore, as the nation moved rapidly through the Industrial Revolution, the future of the nation's labor force and of its general welfare seemed uncertain. As time passed, the nation would encounter the greatest economic depression of all time, and the challenges would continue. Our nation would still battle the divisive issues of racism and discrimination. Yet none of the Presidents who governed during these daring times exploited the authority of their position in unwarranted manners. The Nixon Administration would however, exploit its authority and attempt to justify its actions based on the 'similar' actions of Abraham Lincoln.During the Civil War, this nation's greatest test of will and spirit, President Lincoln felt it incumbent upon the President to assume certain authority and responsibility not specifically granted to the Executive by the Constitution. His rationale stemmed from his desire and oath to preserve the Constitution and the Union as a whole. On the eve of the Civil War, Lincoln, fearing a strong Confederate threat, initiated a blockade of all Southern ports; ordering no vessels in or out of the South. Clearly an act of war, Lincoln faced immediate challenge from Congress and Confederate leaders. His reasoning, though, for carrying out such a dangerous and controversial act was his belief that it would tame the South and prevent massive bloodshed in the future. His concerns would later prove to be warranted.Although public resentment and dissatisfaction can be used to provoke government action at any leader's discretion, Lincoln truly believed that the future of the nation was in jeopardy. He saw the...

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