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The American Empire: A Reality Essay

1265 words - 6 pages

The United States has undergone significant changes since the Founders signed the Constitution in 1787 and created the largest federal republic at that time. When drafting the Constitution the Founders created checks and balances to limit the power of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Since 1787, however, the executive branch has accumulated a massive amount of power and authority over the other two branches. More acutely, the President has gained the authority to control the financial sector as well as the military industrial complex, and thus dictate how many Americans live their lives. This accumulation of power and authority has been systematic and cannot be considered an accident. The President of the United States can be considered an emperor because the executive branch has gained enough power and authority to be sovereign, and the Constitution grants the authority to use power to compel behavior.
The three elements that constitute an empire are power, authority, and legitimacy. Article II, section 2 gave the President the power to act as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, allowed for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not otherwise described in the Constitution. Presidents have used the power delegated to them in Article II to expand their role from Commander in Chief to emperor. For instance, President Lincoln violated the Constitution by suspending the writ of habeas corpus in 1861 and held suspected Confederate under indeterminate imprisonment. Another instance where the President has shown that he will use delegated powers to act above the law came when Theodore Roosevelt decided to act as the steward for the world and build the Panama Canal. This power was not delegated to Roosevelt in the Constitution, and his decision cost an estimated 30,000 human lives. The President has shown that he has the power to act above the law, and they will do so to compel behavior and remain sovereign to themselves.
The Constitution has also served to provide the agreed upon mechanism which grants the President the right to use their power to govern the whole. Article I, section 8 establishes the powers of Congress and attempts to set up an economic system for then fledgling United States. Yet the President has been the head of bureaucracy since the Second World War, and this was totally unaccounted for in the Constitution. Beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, the President has used unaccountable funds to create inaccessible agencies. These bureaucratic agencies answer only to the President and have quasi legislative and judicial powers to make the laws that they will then enforce. For instance, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 took the private sector and placed it under the control of the executive branch. The President now has the authority to monitor prices, maximize employment, and set long-term interest rates. This created a...

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