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The Imperial Presidency

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Some interesting reading.

The Imperial Presidency by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. was written in 1973.

Also see the phrase Imperial Presidency. This book details the history of the Presidency of the United States from its conception by the Constitutional Founders, through the late twentieth century. The author wrote the Imperial Presidency out of two concerns:

First,  that the US Presidency was out of control and second that the Presidency had exceeded the Constitutional limits. A presidency becomes imperial when it relies on powers beyond those allowed by the Constitution.

The Constitution established three separate branches of government not for efficiency but to avoid the arbitrary exercise of power. The government outlined by the Constitution was to replace and improve upon the imperial executive government of British King George III. The book links the President’s accumulation of foreign powers during wartimes to the accretion of domestic powers. The Constitution and its authors determined that the power to initiate a war belonged to the Congress. The President had the responsibility to conduct ongoing wars and ongoing foreign relations and respond to sudden attacks if the Congress was not in session.

As the US became a great world power, and then a superpower, the Presidency acquired more war powers despite the Constitution. This reduced the Congress’ powers and the separation of powers, which is necessary to avoid the arbitrary use of power. Through various means, Presidents subsequently acquired powers beyond the limits of the Constitution.

The daily accountability of the President to the Congress, the courts, the press and the people has been replaced by an accountability of once each four years during an election. These changes have occurred slowly over the centuries so that that which appears normal differs greatly from what was the original state of the US.

To study more on this subject go to:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Imperial_Presidency

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2 thoughts on “The Imperial Presidency

  1. Thanks SamH!
    I found this link several month’s ago during some research. I had NO idea that our nation had gotten so far off track!!!

  2. So glad to know about this book and its subject – a timely one considering the publication date. Arthur Schlessinger is one of my heroes. Great post, L

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