Public Opinion Essay

2183 words - 9 pages

Every citizen in the United States is a principal to one of the most powerful agents in the entire world, the president. And in order to avoid many principal-agent dilemmas, it must be necessary for the people to maintain control of their agent more than once every four years at the ballot box. This control takes the form of public opinion on a daily basis. How exactly does public opinion shape the expansive powers for the President of the United States? Is it more beneficial to the president for achieve policy goals or is it more necessary to constrain the already growing power of the presidency? Over time and through many technological advancements such as radio or internet, the president ...view middle of the document...

This method of going public to pressure Congress or other political areas by communicating directly with the people via press conference or radio established a precedent in which the president could utilize public opinion to achieve policy goals.
The president is revered as one of the most influential people of the time and the common person usually takes great interest in what he has to say; therefore, the White House has become the ultimate stage on which to gain support for specific policies. If a president can convince the people to take a stand for his policy and to contact their representative in legislature, then his political power will surely increase enough to pass his legislation. This “bully pulpit”, as Theodore Roosevelt called it, allows a president to completely bypass the negotiating and “back-room conversations” necessary to pass legislation (Kollman 200). As such a powerful tool for presidential power, it has forced necessity for incoming presidents to meet a new standard of charisma and personality rather than merit alone. These characteristics are vital for persuasion and as Richard Neustadt, author of Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents, claims, “presidents lead by persuading others” (Kollman 193). A president’s main responsibility when attempting to establish a policy is to convince the majority of the population that what he wants is actually what they want for their own interest (Kollman 201). Simply put, rather than simply create spectacular policies for an entire country to embrace, a modern president must convince the public that his policy is indeed spectacular and create a positive public opinion of that policy. This is very important, when Congress is divided or slow to act, in forcing Congress to at least act and usually in the president’s favor.
Public opinion can also help achieve political goals in many other areas besides Congress. A positive public opinion or approval rating is necessary for re-election and can show a correlation in their relationship with other branches of government (Kollman 327). Speaking with the public can also influence state leaders and branches of government as well as group leaders in society such as business or organization leaders. While public opinion has allowed presidential powers to expand domestically, it has also created new leverage for power internationally as well. Woodrow Wilson was the first to establish regular contact with foreign nations and this created an opportunity for each subsequent president to achieve goals globally (Kollman 201). While governments can create tension amongst themselves throughout the world, if the people of another country respect and support the president, it makes it far easier to establish treaties and maintain peace in that region. Positive international public opinion can help end wars quicker*, improve negotiations with other nations for resources, and allow greater influence in other regions. Overall, as the “public” of...

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