The President: Who is upholding the law?

The left image shows a crowd of people waving American flags in front of the Capitol. The right image shows Barack Obama being sworn in as President of the United States.

On January 20, 2009, crowds of people waited on the National Mall in the cold to see the inauguration of Barack Obama. (credit left: modification of work by Teddy Wade; credit right: modification of work by Cecilio Ricardo)

The presidency is the most visible position in the U.S. government. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, delegates accepted the need to empower a relatively strong and vigorous chief executive–bound by checks from the other branches as well as the Constitution. ┬áPresidents must work with the other branches to be effective.

The President: Questions to Consider

  1. What are the powers, opportunities, and limitations of the presidency?
  2. How does the chief executive lead in our contemporary political system?
  3. What guides his or her actions, including unilateral actions?
  4. If it is most effective to work with others to get things done, how does the president do so?
  5. What can get in the way of coordination and compromise between branches?