How much power does the President actually have?

This is an outstanding op-ed piece that is full of links, examples and exam-fodder for students looking at this long-answer essay – just how much power does the President have?

Students will frequently analyse the power given to the President in the Constitution compared to that of Congress. This, supported with examples produces a fair, but nothing more, essay. Instead, the best students look at the circumstantial factors – what President? When in their Presidency? With what popularity ratings? What national circumstances (war? national emergency?)? Who holds Congress? And so on.

In Obama’s case, his second term has been littered with his willingness to use his more ‘imperial’ powers in order to achieve what he wants – gun control, minimum wage, immigration and the Iran deal all done in ways that circumvented, and indeed angered, Congress who felt their own power was being belittled and ignored.

This article balances the scales somewhat on the media-presented views of Obama using such powers and explores the ways that Obama’s actions have either been legal, or where he has not managed to achieve what he wants for one reason or another. This suggests severe limits on the President’s powers and would be great balance in a 45 mark essay trying to show how a President can be limited.

It also provides a beautiful, if somewhat throwaway, line comparing Bush and Obama – it suggests that Bush was willing to use similar powers that Obama has, only Obama has used them domestically where Bush used them for foreign policy. Such an assessment, if supported with the right evidence, would be an outstanding analytical feature of an essay discussing the difference between a President’s powers at home or abroad, or discussing who controls foreign policy.

It’s a short article, but a must read for 45 markers!