Are our leaders becoming too powerful?
The presidency is a very high office, making it easy for a president to abuse the system. The recent style of unilateral presidency demonstrated during the Bush years, although uprising many with its blatancy, is nothing new. For many years Presidents have been expanding their power over the other two branches with ever more intricate methods of exercising the extent of their office’s influence. With an ever changing and shrinking world, the necessity of quick decisions in evident. However, with power so easy to abuse, a better system of checks and balances is needed.
President Clinton for example took a step which many considered questionable with the induction of the Line Item Veto, which allowed him to manipulate all monetary aspects of bills if he could provide adequate reasoning. Congress since declared this unconstitutional, but the sheer fact of its existence is evidence of presidential power that was allowed to remain grow past its envisioned limits.
Presidential disregard to the will of congress is nothing new in Washington either, with a classic example of Richard Nixon’s withholding of crucial information regarding the Watergate scandal. Citing “Executive Privilege” the tape transcript provided by the executive branch excluded an 18 minute gap. Denying involvement, the President would defend his actions with phrases like “I am not a crook” and “if the President does it, it’s not illegal.
Reagan again demonstrated power over congress when he sold weapons to Iran during the Iran Contra Affair without congressional backing. This action was deemed a violation of international law, and went directly against a congressional act. Truman placed troops in Vietnam irresponsibly in order to enforce his war on the spread of communism, and Bush did much of the same during the War on Terror.
These actions all demonstrate the lack of control that congress and other authorities has over Presidential affairs. The other branches need more of a say, and although the idea of a strong president is a good one, it will never work correctly until the checks required are designed and made to work correctly.