Home > A3 > The Many Faces of Presidential Power

The Many Faces of Presidential Power

Executive BranchIn second trimester of our government class we explored the powers the President has that are not given to him by our constitution. Professor Neustadt explores these powers in his writings. He believes that the President posses three powers other than the ones given to him by the constitution. We explored these three powers and set out to understand them and define their usefulness for a President. The first power we explored was the “informal power” of the President,  the people delegate the strength of the President because they create his image. Therefore the President’s “informal power” comes from the sentiment of his people. The second power that we examined was the power of persuasion. Professor Neustadt believes that this is the most important of the powers for the President.


Executive Branch

“Presidential power is the power to persuade…” (reader, 218)  “… those who share in governing this country are aware that at some time, in some degree, the doing of their jobs, the furthering of their ambitions, may depend on the President of the United States. Their need for presidential action, or their fear of it, is bound to recurrent if not actually continuous. Their need or fear is his advantage” (219). … “The power to persuade is the power to bargain” (220).

Finally the last of the three powers is the President’s reputation. The reputation of a President is directly related to his informal powers. Neustadt says that he has the ability to choose his image, “His choices are the means by which he does what he can to build his reputation as he wants it. Decisions are his building blocks. He has no others in his hands.”(Three excerpts from Presidential Power) This asserts that the President has to make sure he constantly reflects on who his target audience is and how he influences our country. A President’s reputation has to be one of trust so that he effectively can bargain.

These powers that the President posses are some of the most important. He does not have all that much power because he is linked to all the branches of government. The checks and balances makes for a non authoritarian ruler but forces the President to use his other powers. He is given the Veto power by the constitution but as Neustadt believes the President has failed if he has to use the Veto. The President’s power of persuasion is the most important, because he is linked to all the branches of the government he has to persuade the branches to follow him. This power is truly the only way that the President’s agenda can happen. The President must be able to compromise in order to succeed. These “informal powers” are what help the President get his agenda passed. The President has to be able to manipulate each of these powers proficiently because the constitution does not give him that much power. The best way for a President to fulfil his duty as our leader is to take advantage of his “informal strength” or his influence on American Society. Because he is affiliated with all sectors of government he needs to pay attention of who and how he influences during his term.

Informal powers


Informal Powers


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