The Power of the President
By: Tanya Vogel, Secretary
As the world continues down its slippery slope, I am saddened by the fact that all of the politics and shenanigans of the presidential race and extreme bigotry in the world are marring the holiday season. I am not normally political – I have my beliefs and political affiliations and I stick to them, but I rarely share them. What I do believe in is the ability for the US government to overcome adversity. I believe the system works, but it only works when we as citizens are INVOLVED. What does that mean? It means we all must VOTE! Not just for the president – that is actually the vote that matters the least.
The presidential election is a media circus, we are lead to believe that the president is the sole person who runs our country and couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is how the government works:
The legislative branch of our government is the United States Congress which consists of the House of Representatives (representation is based on state population) and the Senate (2 per state regardless of population). All legislation that is being considered must be passed into law by both sides of congress – once passed the president can then sign the legislation into law or veto. A presidential veto can be overridden by a 2/3 majority vote of congress. There is no term limit in Congress.
The executive branch consists of the President and Vice President. The President, according to the Constitution, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed", and "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution". The President may unilaterally sign treaties with foreign nations. However, ratification of international treaties requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. The President may be impeached by a majority in the House and removed from office by a two-thirds majority in the Senate for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". The President may not dissolve Congress or call special elections but does have the power to pardon, or release, criminals convicted of offenses against the federal government (except in cases of impeachment), enact executive orders, and (with the consent of the Senate) appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges. The Vice President resides over the Senate and is next in line should the President be removed from office either through death, resignation, or majority voted removal. The Vice President can vote in the Senate but only to break a tie.
The Cabinet is the day to day enforcement and administration of federal laws. There are 15 departments, the heads of each department are chosen by the President with the consent and advice of congress. These include the White House staff, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The employees in these United States government agencies are called federal civil servants. There are also independent agencies such as the United States Postal Service, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Agency for International Development. In addition, there are government-owned corporations such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
The Judicial branch explains and applies the laws – this is the Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court adjudicates "cases and controversies"—matters pertaining to the federal government, disputes between states, and interpretation of the United States Constitution, and, in general, can declare legislation or executive action made at any level of the government as unconstitutional, nullifying the law and creating precedent for future law and decisions. Separate from, but not entirely independent of, this federal court system are the court systems of each state, each dealing with, in addition to federal law when not deemed preempted, a state's own laws, and having its own court rules and procedures. Although state governments and the federal government are legally dual sovereigns, the Supreme Court of the United States is in many cases the appellate court from the State Supreme Courts.
So that’s a lot of info right? And you are wondering what is my point? Back to the first paragraph–our Presidential elections really are the ones we need to be the least worried about. Who really runs the country? The Congress and our local governments do. This past November in Chester County there was a 26% voter turnout for the elections. This is a dismal number. Most people don’t consider the smaller offices important, but they are the ones that drive our country. Consider Kim Davis – she is an ELECTED OFFICIAL and she is wreaking havoc on the LGBTQ community in Kentucky. She is using her position as an elected official to gather strength in her fight against marriage equality.
As we watch all the media coverage for President and the shenanigans of the candidates we need to remember who really runs our country. The President really can’t do anything without Congress, the Congress is held accountable by the Supreme Court, and our local governments drive our state and local laws. The Supreme Court, not the president, made marriage for same sex couples legal. Even if the President wants a law passed, Congress has to vote for it and if a law is Vetoed Congress can override that veto with a 2/3 majority vote. The President is accountable for our Nation but he/she is not the end all to beat all. He/she is the manager of a large corporation and gathers support from those underneath him to be able to have a majority vote on his chosen agenda items.
So once again I say with gusto!!!!
VOTE!! VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION!! KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES!! VOTE!! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, VOTE PRO-EQUALITY!