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Exploring the Presidency

This year in government class I learned about the basis of our government through our six units: Civics 101, Foundations, Elections, Presidency, Congress, and Judiciary. I came into class barely knowing anything and was constantly confused when my brother and dad were talking about politics in front of me. Now, I have a greater knowledge of the government and I am able to participate in the various conversations my family has about politics. My favorite unit out of the last two trimesters was the presidency because I enjoyed learning about the specific duties and leadership positions that our president takes on.

Prior to this unit, I did not know the specific powers and duties the president has. All I knew is that he was the leader of our country. But, there is a lot more to the job than just being a leader. In class we explored the powers and limitations of the President through reading Article II of the constitution, Richard Neustadt’s Presidential Power and Clinton Rossiter’s The American Presidency. Article II helped me understand what the President can and cannot do during his presidency. Neustadt’s Presidential Powers discusses the informal powers of the President. Then, The American Presidency explores the modern roles of the President. These three pieces broadened my views on the presidency.

Photo Credit: Mediaite

Photo Credit: Mediaite

My favorite activity we did during class this year while learning about the presidency was fun with Article II. This made me analyze and take a deeper look into Article II of the Constitution. Instead of just reading through the article and retaining some information I had to closely read what the text is specifically saying. In the activity, we read eight hypothetical solutions and had to find out if they are constitutional or unconstitutional. This helped me explore the constitution in a new way that is more fun than simply reading it. One thing that I found interesting was that the constitution states that the president has to “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union”(Article II Section 3).  While the president always gives the State of the Union address to the nation he does not have to. The president can just give the Congress a letter. The Constitution only states that he has to give the Congress information of the State of the Union not the whole nation.

The next step in exploring the presidency was looking at the modern roles of the president. Rossiter mentions ten presidential roles that the president has. These roles include: Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, World Leader, Chief of State, Chief of Legislator, Chief Diplomat, Protector of the Peace, Voice of the People, Manager of Prosperity, and Chief of Party. Personally I think the most important role of the president is Chief Executive. By reading Rossiter’s The American Presidency, I learned that as Chief Executive the president must choose federal officials, manage national affairs, develop policies, and enforce federal laws and court rulings.  These responsibilities of the president especially affect the United States and the citizens. Then, on the other hand, I personally think that the least important role of the president is Chief of Party. While the president is the representative of his party, his commitment as president is not to his party but to his country as a whole. Before reading this piece I did not know about all the roles the president takes on when he comes into office. The president definitely keeps himself busy with all the roles he plays.

Photo Credit: Econintersect

Photo Credit: Econintersect

The last step in exploring the presidency is looking at his informal powers. Neustadt’s Presidential Power explores the informal powers the president has. In my opinion, the most important informal power Neustadt mentioned was the act to persuade. The president has to persuade people every day that what he is doing is what is best for our country. Persuasion is a big part of being a president and every successful president uses persuasion to prove that everything he does is in the nations best interest.

The presidency was my favorite unit because I explored things I never knew or understood before. Now I know the many different limitations and roles the president has as leader of our country. Overall, government class has taught me a lot about our nation and how it runs, specifically each branch of the government.

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