Presidential Theory Essay

This essay has a total of 2201 words and 10 pages.

Presidential Theory




I disagree with Stephen Hess' contention that modern President's are woefully miscast in
the role of manager of the Executive Branch. The Office of The President in its infancy
acted strictly as a Chief Executive, by enforcing Congressional legislation that had been
passed into law. As the government continued to develop, The President took on more
responsibility acting in the capacity as Chief Administrator; by initiating legislation
through a top-down process. Today, the President has developed into a combination of the
aforementioned roles. The President manages his White House staff, as well as the nation,
in order to attain a less hectic, more structured, effective leadership. Constitutional
empowerment, presidential character, and public expectations have always and will continue
to shape the fundamental managerial role of President of The United States.

The blueprint of the Office of The Presidency can be traced back to1777, when the state of
New York passed their Constitution. The Constitution of the state of New York gave only
the "Governor" ultimate executive power, stressed the importance of a strong chief
executive, granted reprieves and pardons, as well as the establishment of the State of the
Union address. The Final aspect of the NY Constitution found in the Constitution today,
which clearly is a managerial task, is the power of the Presidential veto. By exercising
this power, the President is clearly managing Congress, for if not in the best interest of
the nation, it is the President's responsibility to block the legislation, and give
constructive feedback to Congress, with hopes of seeing a revised edition before him as
soon as possible. All of the aforementioned aspects of the New York state Constitution can
be found in Article II of the Constitution of the United States of America.

The Constitution is the building block for the President's role as Chief Executive.
Through the vesting clause of Article II- paragraph one- executive power is placed
exclusively in the President's hands. Article II-Section III authorizes the President "…
to give Congress information of the State of The Union and recommend to their
consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient", known commonly as
the annual The State of the Union address. Through the State of the Union address the
President demonstrates another important aspect of his managerial role: integration. The
President has the power and ability to take information, no matter how large or small,
from all aspects of the Federal Government and analyze, critique, and disseminate it
accordingly. Lastly, Article II provides The President has the power to convene or adjourn
both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Chief Executive's main responsibility was to enforce Congressional legislation, and to
report back on laws he was enforcing. As the nation grew, so did the ambitions of the
President. The election of Andrew Jackson to the Office of the President in 1829 marked
the end of the Chief Executive era of the presidency, and the beginning of the Chief
Administrator era of the presidency.

President Jackson became the first President to appeal to the people. During his campaign
some of his supporters voiced their distaste for the Bank of The United States. Once
elected to office, President Jackson vetoed a bill to re-charter the national bank. The
veto established a standard that fortified the presidency. "…A president should reject
any bill that he felt would injure the nation." President Jackson rationalized his veto,
because he believed the bank was unconstitutional and reckless. President Jackson also
considered this action mandated by his party, the Jacksonian's. Therefore, he felt
obligated to act on his constituent's behalf. By firing the current Secretary of The
Treasury and hiring a new one in 1832, President Jackson displayed one of the eldest
managerial authorities. Also, beginning with the election of President Jackson public
expectations became quite prominent in the gradual shifting of the nation's political
system. Public expectations drive the President to hold the reigns of the role as manager
even tighter. After the shift from Congressional controlled elections to popularly based
elections, the voting population began to hold their elected officials at a higher
standard than they had previously. Voters began to identify themselves with the growing
national parties at this time. Voters identified with either one of two national parties.
The Jacksonian, lead by Andrew Jackson, or the Whig, established out of opposition to the
Jacksonian party led by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster party at this time. Here party
loyalty was born, and so was patronage.

Out of the Chief Administrator era three systems were born; patronage, party allies, and
partisan politics. The party-centered shifts within the nation allowed for the creation
and interdependence of the three systems. The President was no longer just enforcing
rules; he was now taking matters into his own hands, with the consent and support of his
party. If the president was not able to get something done at a certain time, he was able
to now go to one of the lower members of his party throughout Congress to have them work
on the current situation. In order to use a lower ranked member of his party, typically
promises were made. More often than not promises of jobs were the most common, in exchange
for the member's cooperation and dedication to his party. This bargaining strategy, which
is exactly what it is, is a commonality among managers. Partisan politics allowed the
President to start set his own agenda for the country because he could rely on his party
allies throughout the various dark alleys of the government, to carry out "their"
legislation. Those members of the party in power at that time, who did not play the
patronage game eventually, lost their party's support and sometimes their job(s).
"Persuasion is the lubricant of government…" , as clearly evident in regards to
favoritism, and patronage. Even The President could lose his job for not fighting
alongside of his party, until Theodore Roosevelt was elected President.

The modern presidency was born out of the Progressive reforms of the late 19th century.
Long gone was patronage and corrupt elections. Party politics and patronage began to
diminish, and the notion of the President as a Manager came full circle. Political parties
were no longer able to control elections by threatening and intimidating voters. The
Australian ballot of 1888 ensured voter privacy and put an end to party intimidation on
Election Day. With the government printed ballot voters were no longer afraid to vote
their conscious. Without their former scare tactics candidates began running on partisan
platforms. No longer were campaigns centering round party identification. The Civil
Service Reform ended all forms of patronage. Named after Democratic Senator George
Pendleton of Ohio, the Pendleton Act changed the civil service system and made a lasting
impression on political parties. The legislation called for a merit based system, which
grew as presidents inflated it in order to stop the opposing party dead in their tracks.
By the time President T. Roosevelt took office in 1901 workers were more educated.
Business' started recruiting for their workforces and political allies gave way to
business allies. (Thank you capitalism.)

To define the era of the President today is to combine the role of the President as
Executive and as an Administrator. The authority of the office depends not only on the
person in power, but on the person's interpretation of the Constitution. President
Washington managed the nation very specifically. With his strict interpretation of the
Constitution, he faithfully executed what had been asked of him, as Commander-in-Chief,
Political Leader, and Chief Executive. He left room for interpretation, but saw no need to
interrupt the newly free, peaceful nation. He successfully managed, supervised, directed,
however you want to phrase it, the nation from 1789-1797. During his report to Congress on
November 19, 1794, President Washington demonstrated his ability to effectively manage the
government, as stated by William M. Goldsmith; "[he] clearly understood that a government
which cannot enforce its laws is no government at all."
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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