Imperial Presidency

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The Imperial Presidency

The Imperial Presidency is a term that was created and made known by Arthur Schlesinger. The term is defined as a belief that the presidency is becoming too powerful. The modern president has many powers that the founding fathers did not intend for them to have. This increase in power has started ever since the formation of president Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and World War II. The term conveys a president that has imperial powers and is authoritarian. The president can make many decisions that the founding fathers did not intend for him to have the power to make. This includes calling a state of emergency, and declaring war without putting it through congress first. These powers are not necessarily bad but they can be taken advantage of. This violates the role the founding fathers intended congress to have. They intended congress to be the center of decision-making. The modern president also has a large Executive staff. It is the president’s staff making big decisions on his behalf that has caused the president to become more powerful. Presidents also have the right to secrecy and they can withhold any information they want from the public.

One historical example of Imperial presidency would have to be the role of Colonel Oliver North in the funding to the Contras in Nicaragua, under the presidency of Reagan. This was a huge contravention of a United States Congressional ban, and exemplifies just how much influence and power one member of a large White House staff could have. This was a huge disaster for Reagan and the Government of the United States since it had been “illegally financing a civil war of the Contra guerrillas against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.”

According to the constitution, the president is Command and Chief of the military forces of the United States. Therefore he is able to declare war at any time, without the consent of congress. This is one of the most powerful powers that the...
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