American Politics and Government Exam


AmericanPolitics and Government: Exam


Question1: Presidential Power

Thepowers of the president are held in the constitution as the mostpowerful and executive office in the country. These powers constituteof the formal and informal presidential powers of the office. Overthe years, the powers of the president have been growing as a resultof legislative processes passed to enrich the office. However,presidential powers are subject to intense scrutiny and limitationsof the other two arms of every government. To explore this topic,this paper will discuss the limits of presidential powers and theimportance of the informal powers vested in the office. In addition,this paper will explore the opinion that the nature of presidentialpowers makes the president too weak.

Limitsof presidential power

Thefirst main limit to presidential power is the congress andcongressional veto override. As a major part of the legislature, thecongress limits the powers of the president in several aspectsespecially in decision making. The congress can veto some of thedecisions made by the president regarding external issues. Thecongress must approve all the declarations that the president makesin regard to the use of the country’s main arms of economic orpolitical power (Wood, n.d). For instance, under Article I SectionVIII, the congress must approve any declaration of war againstanother country, or military support to warring allies. In addition,the congress must approve the treaties that the country enters intowith any international relation.

Inregard to the internal of the country, the congress must approve someof the significant appointments that the president makes. Forinstance, the appointment of the cabinet and the Supreme Court mustbe approved by the congress (Wood, n.d). This makes the president’sability to appoint, subject to the scrutiny of the appointee by thecongress and subsequent nod to hold office or not. Therefore, to makeappointments, the president must persuade the congress to allow suchdecisions by giving them rational reasons for his inclination(Bardes, et al, 2011). To do this, the president uses his partymembers to engage in lobbying and negotiation. This makes thepresidential powers to be more about the persuasive powers as opposedto executive powers.

Judicialreview is another limitation of the powers of the president. Underthis limitation, the powers of the president can be limited by theSupreme Court. As another arm of the government, the Supreme Courtand the judiciary in entirety can pass rulings that can limit theexecution of the presidential executive powers(Berman&amp Resnick, 2014). However, such rulings and limitations must beconsistent with the current laws and in respect to the legislativearm of the government(Berman&amp Resnick, 2014). For instance, in a Supreme Court case decisionrelating to NationalLabor Relations Boardv. TheNoel Canning et al,the Supreme Court limited President Obama’s powers to makeappointments when the congress is in recess (Berman&amp Resnick, 2014). Under this limitation, the Supreme Courtrequired the president to wait for the congress to approve some ofthe executive appointments that the president can make.

Impeachmentis another limitation of the presidential powers that lies in thehands of the legislature. This is an express power that gives thelegislature the ability to present formal charges against any publicofficer in the government, the president included. Under article II,section 44, the president and other members of the executive can beremoved from office through the process of impeachment (Bardes, etal, 2011). The process is started with the House of Representatives,where any member can present impeachment motion and charges on theirown initiatives. The impeachment charges can be presented in a listor through the use of committee, or even non-members of thelegislature such as the judiciary, prosecutor or any special jury.The removal of office through impeachment is the ultimate limitationof the presidential powers by the legislature.

Importanceof presidency’s informal powers

Despitethe limitations, the presidency enjoys inherent powers that allow hisoffice to operate as the executive and gives the holder of the officeto make decisions. The main importance of the informal powers is tomake the presidency an executive office, thereby allowing the makingof executive orders. This power is important because it gives thepresident the ability to intervene in urgent national matters bymaking decisions that are equally urgent (Wood, n.d). For instance,in the case of urgent and critical issues that breach the nationalsecurity, the president can issue executive orders without the inputor consultation of the congress. Executive orders make the presidencyan office that is not tied to national internal bureaucracies whenthe country needs such executive decisions.

Theinformal powers help the president to intervene in national andinternational security situations to protect the interests of thecountry. For instance, as the commander in chief of the armed forces,the president can introduce troops to any location for securityreasons without the approval of the congress, but not declaring war(Wood, n.d). This is important for the presidency to exercise hispowers at any time or circumstance.

Informalpresidential powers are also important to the country in theinternational arena. As the main representative of the nation in theinternational arena, the president can make decisions that influencethe United States’ foreign policy as well as an internationalagenda (Bardes, et al, 2011). This is because the presidency animportant part of the country’s international dealings, and shouldhave powers to make some insignificant decisions on behalf of thecountry. The powers are therefore important to enable the presidentto take initiatives of foreign policy.


Unlikeother arms of the government, the presidency has inherent powers thatdescribe what he can do and what he cannot do. Despite these powers,the presidency is highly limited in terms of making decisions atwill, even if such decisions are critical to the country (Wood, n.d).Therefore, to observe these limitations and execute his presidentialwork smoothly, most presidents engage in proper consultation. Forevery major decision that requires approval from other arms of thegovernment, most presidents consult or engage in lobbying andpersuasion. This makes the presidency hold powers to persuade asopposed to veto executive powers. Consequently, this makes thepresidency weak.

Withcontinuous monitoring of the presidential powers and regularlimitations of the powers of the judiciary and the legislature, thepresidential powers tend to continue getting weak. The weakness ofthe presidency is a direct result of the limitations that require thepresident to persuade the congress and the judiciary on some matters.In addition, the public and the media keep the president on toes asby scrutinizing his or her decisions. However, these limitations andcontrol are important to avoid the abuse of the executive powersvested by the constitution onto the office.


Question5: Voting in America

Electionsare one of the most democratic processes that involve the people inexercising their constitutional right of forming governments. To theright comes a constitutional responsibility of citizens to vote so asto influence the decisions of the country by placing their preferenceof leaders as part of democratic representation. However, not allAmericans undertake this important responsibility, thereby limitingthe effectiveness of democratic representation. This paper willexplore why some Americans are more likely to vote than others, andthe factors that influence the choice of those who vote. Moreover,this paper will explore the opinion that elections are not effectiveparts of democratic representation in America.

Whysome people more likely to vote than others

Theperception of individuals in regard to the democratic importance ofvoting is one of the main factors that make it likely for some peopleto vote than others. The American population has different opinionsand perceptions that influence people differently. While some peoplebelieve in the importance of voting, others do not regard voting asan important exercise (Kornbluh, 2000). Those that do not see theimportance of voting in their personal opinion do not take time tofulfill their democratic responsibility of voting. On the other hand,those who believe that voting is their personal responsibility, theycan do anything, and sacrifice all their time to vote.

Thepolicies of the leaders seeking for votes are one of the reasons whymany Americans can decide to vote or not. As one of the most elitedemocratic populations, many Americans know what they want in aleader and the type of policies that leaders should have to attracttheir attention. The population has matured to become an issue-basedpopulations and not just a political population (Bardes, et al,2011). This means that the type of policies that each of the leadersseeking elective post has been an important aspects of decisions.Where all the competing leaders do not have rational policies, manyAmericans may shy away from elections. However, where each of themhas competitive policies, many people will vote to get the bestleaders.

Thepolitical climate in the country also influences the likelihood ofthe people to vote or not. If the government has invested insufficient public awareness on the importance of voting, many peopleare likely to turn up for the exercise. However, many governments maynot invest such resources due to economic or institutionallimitations. In addition, the influence of the political parties inthe country influences the likelihood of the American citizens tovote or not (Kornbluh, 2000). The effectiveness of these parties ineducating their members on the importance of voting for each of theircandidates determines the likelihood of people to vote.

Influencesof candidate Choice in an election

Thepolitical party inclination is one of the major factors thatinfluence the choice of candidates in any election in America. MostAmericans subscribe to the ideologies of each of their parties to theextent that they trust their votes for the candidates of theirfavorite pets. In a country with two main political parties theRepublican Party and the Democrats, citizens do not have a hard timeanalyzing the ideologies of each and preferring one (Salmore &ampSalmore, 1989). Most of the people who are ideologicallyconservatives will vote for Republican candidates because theybelieve that the candidates of the party share the same conservativeideologies. On the other hand, people who are ideologicallyliberalists will vote for Democratic Party candidates in view thatthey share the same ideologies (Salmore &amp Salmore, 1989).

Inaddition, the personality and the integrity of the individualpolicies of the leaders seeking for votes also influences the choiceof the candidate people will vote. The elite voters do notnecessarily vote for people from the influence of their parties orfrom the influence of their ideological inclination (Salmore &ampSalmore, 1989). The elite voters vote for candidates based on theirpublic integrity and manifestos that they present to the public. Thismeans that some followers of a party may vote for a candidate of therival party due to the smartness of his intentions for the public.

Moreover,past record of leadership of a candidate also influences thedecisions of the people to vote for him or not. Many leaders withgood track records in their previous public offices are elected bypeople to advance their public service to the citizens (Kornbluh,2000). Others are elected due to their good performance in theprivate sector or financial prudence in business ventures. This is,however, limited to the public awareness of the effectiveness ofthese leaders.

Finally,one of the most important influences of voters’ choice is theextent of awareness created by the campaigns of each of the competingcandidates. The candidates, who invest a lot of resources to maketheir campaigns effective in convincing the electorate to vote forthem, are advantaged in terms of choice. Many people vote based onthe popularity of the candidate and not on the personality. This isbecause the popularity of the leaders helps them to present theirpolicies to the people.

Effectiveof Elections as Democratic Representation

Theineffectiveness of elections is as a result of the challenges thatface the election process in relation to the election. Despite thedemocratic nature of the election, many leaders elected in suchprocesses are not the best leaders in the country and for thecitizens (Salmore &amp Salmore, 1989). Many voters vote for leaderswho are not appropriate to their interests because the democraticenvironment does not favor such leaders. This becomes the case ofinappropriate leaders using the right processes to gain leadershippositions and advance their interests.

Inmost of the elections, the democratic advantage is mostly dominatedby the candidates with financial abilities to finance the expensivecampaign processes. This makes the competing candidates disadvantagedin terms of electorate choice, even if they have the best policies.Therefore, for a leader to be elected, it is a conventionalrequirement that they must have enough financial resources to move tothe people and convince them (Salmore &amp Salmore, 1989). Worsestill, the perception of people is inclined to favor election ofpeople with financial resources over those without. This consequentlyworks against the democratic effectiveness of the elections.

However,elections are the most appropriate ways of creating democratic spaceand allowing participation of the citizens in the governance of acountry. In addition, elections provide the platform for citizens tochoose the leaders think they will address their interests. Thismakes elections and the voting process the most significant symbol ofdemocracy. However, elections are not effective in fulfilling theirdemocratic purpose of bringing the people’s representation to thedemocracy.


Bardes,B., Shelley, M., &amp Schmidt, S. (2011). AmericanGovernment and Politics Today: Essentials.New York: Cengage Learning

Berman,M., &amp Resnick. (2014). SupremeCourtLimits President Obama`s Appointment Powers.Retrieved From,&lt 10, 2014

Kornbluh,M.L. (2000).WhyAmerica Stopped Voting: The Decline of Participatory Democracy andthe Emergence of Modern American Politics. NewYork: NYU Press

Salmore,B. G., &amp Salmore,S. A. (1989). Candidates,parties, and campaigns: electoral politics in America. Michigan:CQPress

Wood,T. E. (N.d). TheLimits of Presidential Power.Retrieved From,&lt 10, 2014