When we attempt to imitate what the framers envisioned in the design of the United States, they would never have expected the substantial power given to the presidency. The abuse of power has been a lurking fear in the growth of the presidential figure and seems to only escalate with every election. Despite the people’s attempts to check the president’s actions, its efforts remain a minimal impact on the decisions made by such a dominant figure. The presidential power has become so independent that soon the people would have to learn how to accommodate this growing change rather than combat it. Despite historical efforts to push back on this emerging power such as legislative limits, the implications of the federalist papers, etc., almost every president has managed to find loopholes that comply with rules and appoint the nation to their own agenda. Much of this rise derived from the exponential use of executive orders to offset what goes on institutionally in the executive branch, affecting bureaucracies and the public. Secondly, the people within political parties have minimized their impacts due to the growing competition among the significantly opinionated public. Finally, the ideas perceived in campaigns also impact people as they have no choice but to comply with the motives of elected officials. This essay with discuss the failing attempts of the people to constrain the president from further power through their interest in executive orders and bureaucratic dominance, taking advantage of gridlock caused by party polarization, as well as unjust motives of elected officials during campaigns toward ignorant voters.
No matter who is in office, the presidential position has time and time again found a way to expand the constitutional limits through the opportunity of executive orders and position over the policies of bureaucracies. In their view, its deemed necessary to assume more power, despite appearing to the public as an act of self- interest to complete personal goals. Just as Congress can hardly limit the aims of the president, similar deprivation exists for the people. The influence of unilateral action allows the president to intervene in policies through executive orders. The issue of these orders allows absolute discretion and direct action that can take or stop action, alter policies, or change management that can affect many. In ‘Power without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action’, Howell warns, “And if they prefer to keep their decisions entirely secret, they can issue national security directives, which neither Congress, not the public has an opportunity to review” (Howell, 252). Choosing to avoid the opinions of the people overrides any sort of social or legislative restraint and can be repackaged into their ideas in forms of memoranda, proclamations, etc. In our current presidency, the abuse of presidential power has been highly criticized against state governments, specifically in local assemblies of the people. As discussed in ‘In Clash Between California and Trump’, Arango observes major division between the president's ideas for the good of the nation and those proposed by the state of California (Arango). As he aims to push for more conservative policies, California seeks for liberal implementations for its people such as its attempt to become a sanctuary state, raising the minimum wage, passing gun control laws, etc. However, Trump would beat these efforts by implementing special agents in ICE without state approval. These differing ideas lead many to believe that the president is using his power excessively to implement his policies through executive orders, policy changes, etc., in state and legislative productivity. This is a prime example of the power of the president surpassing a local, state politicians fostering the voices of the people. Similarly, the president's actions in the bureaucratic sector aid at the growth of the executive branch. The command of the president has begun to fail the people as he replaces the experiences bureaucrats who protect against impulsive changes with political figures chosen by the president. The ever-widening gap between what the president versus what the people want appears to direct downhill, as it is recognized: “The agencies within the U.S. government with the greatest percentage of presidential appointments tend to perform more poorly than agencies with a higher ratio of career civil servants” (KJKV 342). This sidelining of the original order of the bureaucracy reflected in today's political intervention through his bureaucratic lead in labor relations. President Trump has expanded the power to dominate policy-making decisions regarding bureaucracies more control than any other political actor. He signed a notable executive order minimizing the bureaucracy and suggesting the cut of many of its programs and employees. A federal employee of the AFGE union expressed: “President Trump is attempting to silence the voice of veterans, law enforcement officers...intended to strip federal employees of their decades-old right to representation at the worksite” (Rein, 2018). Implementing executive orders on the president's own accord reduces the power of the people as they lose the ability to limit the president's actions without an opportunity to negotiate.
The inevitable Duvenger’s law and its two-party system have arisen a degrading competition between the people, resulting in gridlock and minimizes the power to check the president. Decentralization becomes less of a chance due to internal fragments seeming only more difficult to resolve while coalition deems almost impossible with the heavy attachment to party identification. In ‘The Great Alignment’, Abramowitz describes the increased consistency in voters’ preferences and intense party loyalty by voters in his chapter, ‘New American Electorate’. As this is a strong predictor of election voting, many have divided into mainly liberal or conservative standpoints. With this constant divide, altercations and clashes lead to no compromise favorable to all. Abramowitz observes that many issues such as abortion or gay rights divide people when mentioning, “...Very closely correlated-sharp differences between the two major parties on both types of issues-opinions on these issues increasingly likely to reinforce one another...” (Abramowitz). No one is willing to stand down and the division only proceeds to further from a conclusion. When the people are so massively divided, legislative voice and productivity diminish. Consequently, the beginning stages of issue and voter polarization lead to the inability to limit the president because while the people evaluate decisions to comply with polarized efforts, the candidates must accept the limited amount of parties offered under the major electoral categories. Divided parties lead to major gridlock in which the people stray from the actions of the president and become less concerned with the actual pressing political problems and rather focus on making sure their party leaders take a position. Parties organize the people into a compact selection of opinions that steer away from the issues the president puts forward and focuses on loyalty instead of prioritizing beliefs. In reality, parties are weak in themselves and have no major influence on the very specific policies a president may place. Abrams and Fiorina further explore this phenomenon in ‘party sorting’. They recognize the fact that Americans have grown homogenous in party availabilities interests, values, and individual morals are made to fit in a readily available destiny. They suggest: “In consequence, elections matter more. As the stakes rise, civility falls” (Abrams and Fiorina, 2015, 119). The creation of a two-party system holds little power over candidates and encourages the legitimacy of ignorant oppositions towards others. People have conformed to not voting for the candidate they like or one that represents their views, they’re voting against the candidate you don't like. It becomes an issue due to the fact that parties don’t have control over who they can nominate but are still blindly ready to support whoever falls under their party.
The true motives of elected officials, such as the president, run on campaign promises that carry a strong influence on ignorant voters. Elections are dominated by the frame of the president and the limited knowledge the common people possess dilutes their potential impact to check the president. Voters find no strong motive to learn the information and are in constant search of cues and shortcuts through the news, media, and campaigns that would happily provide information about their candidates. However, when they do choose to acquire this information, it is usually biased as many campaigns seek to “help” voters with the decision-making process and mobilization. Candidates and how they are getting out the message could be in the form of political advertising and attacks and manipulated in an ideal framing’ but effective in taking advantage of a voter’s uncertainty. As analyzed by Popkin in ‘The Reasoning Voter’, “Each campaign attempts to organize the many cleavages within the electorate by setting the political agenda in the way most favorable to its own candidates” (Popkin, 537). The gap between democratic perceptions and their realities are easy to manipulate. The president can frame situations in a specific view in order to shift political opinion. People may suggest that ignorance from voting is rational but may heuristics may reduce the amount of impact the people have on limiting the president. They may misperceive candidates enough during elections and the ignorance could only further exist once they are in office. At that point, it is extremely difficult for the people to check on the president when they were the ones who allowed their entry. Campaigns pushed by the president may cause misconception of their true motives, as Archen and Bartels explore the correlation between ‘issue proximity’ and voting preferences. For instance, voters may fall into ‘persuasion' where voters change their issue positions to align with those of the candidate they favor due to campaign promises or ‘projection’ in which voters convince themselves the candidate has issue positions similar to them. Archen and Bartels further suggest, “Congressional studies support the idea that the election outcome depends less on citizens’ policy preferences” (Archen and Bartels). Elected officials are hardly controlled by the people and can change when actually elected. In the end, the president does not have to obey and are never forced to reflect the policies pushed by voters.
This essay examined the limited impact the people have in checking the president, descending from the coupled factor of the president’s increased capability and the people’s limited influence. In examining the effects of the changing role of the presidency, we discover that an overabundance in these findings is encompassed in today’s current political climate. The stepping-stone to a larger political presence would be regaining control of the democracy as many are attempting to accomplish, even if unsuccessfully, in their unions and parties. The effort Americans give today focus on their individual goals but more energy must be ubiquitous to foster and bring power back to the people. The contentious issues that accompany the tenuous role of the people seem unbearable and they have to hence seek accountability. Further dichotomy arises from the push of polarization and what appears as voluntary ignorance. These factors increase the power of the president and his freedom to sustain executive orders under the people. The administration was never meant to be run alone but as a voice representative of its citizens. As previous authors have highlighted, the people cannot grow if they limit their potential to a small pond, but rather explore how they can progress unanimously in what may soon be America’s greatest compromise.