The reach of the President’s power has been the center of discussion for a long time. Democrat and Republican presidents have both fiercely protected the prerogatives and tested the limits of Executive Power.
Generally, partisan discrepancies arise, and accusations of an “imperial presidency” have become a recurring part of the political debate.
In some cases, the power that comes with being in the White House went to the head of its temporary dwellers and, as in Richard Nixon’s case, they mistakenly believed that everything the President does is, by definition, legal. Nixon’s downfall showed how wrong he was.
The power to wage war is one of the presidency’s most controversial aspects. President Obama’s recent proposal to Congress to approve his strategy against the Islamic State is one of those instances.
Curiously, in this case most Republicans think that Obama is limiting his power too much and would rather see him have unlimited action with endless possibilities. Aggressive military foreign policy is characteristic during GOP Congress rule.
Still, when President Obama uses administrative discretion to make decisions on measures that Republicans do not like, his actions are seen as dangerously unconstitutional because he did not go through Congress. Executive Power independence in general makes legislators uncomfortable, but they particularly dislike Obama’s executive actions on immigration and health care and against climate change, to name a few.
Today, accusations of presidential excess stem from a Congress frustrated because it cannot stop Obama. The GOP has obstructed his legislative road and now wants to paralyze it by taking him to court for alleged excesses.
In this President’s Day, it is worth remembering the way presidential power has been exercised from the days of George Washington. This reflection makes you recognize that, while today this age-old debate is given constitutional tinges, its intention is actually limited by a partisan, temporary agenda.