Government and Politics
Week 8: The Presidency and the
Lecture 2: The Office and the
I. Topics for today
- Million Mom March vs. the NRA's television ad
- U.S. v. Morrison:
- A sharply divided Supreme Court struck down a law
allowing suit in national courts for violence against
- The Court ruled 5-4 that Congress overstepped its
power when it gave women a right to sue their
- Congress had no power to legislate in this area
- the "interstate commerce" clause
- nor the "equal protection" clause of the 14th
- Remedies for such cases must be sought in state
- Yesterday's visitors from Latvia and Lithuania
- Stressed the difference between parliament and
- Stressed the importance of parties in socializing
people into the system
- Noted that public opinion in both countries would
favor the death penalty
- Stressed their admiration of our presidency
II. The OFFICE of the presidency must be distinguished
from the PERSON of the president.
- Consider the design of the office according to the
- The presidency embodies a UNITARY rather than a
- One person has sole responsibility for all
- Compare this situation with the many executive
offices usually independently elected in state
- The unitary office provides more potential for
majoritarian government than a plural
- The office of president is also regarded as the
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT.
- Unlike a prime minister, the president heads a
separate but coordinate branch of government.
- A prime minister heads both law-making and
law-implementing and is thus in a more effective
position to command the government.
- Thus, the design of the presidency clearly
reflects limitations on government.
- However, the president derives his power as
head of government from other features of the
office denied prime ministers.
- The president is in charge of the
- He is popularly elected by a national
- His term of office is longer than popular
branch of the Congress.
- He also has some legislative authority.
- 3. Unlike a prime minister, a president has
additional authority from being HEAD OF STATE.
- The president is the nation's ceremonial leader
and authority figure.
- The president is also the national symbol and
personification of nation, especially in foreign
- One can't imagine a member of congress treating
the president like the House of Commons treated the
- The presidency has both executive and legislative
functions within our governmental system.
- The presidency also exercises the function of
LEADERSHIP within the political system.