Do you agree with Wildavsky that America has two legitimate presidencies
Wildavsky is completely right to believe that United States has got two legitimate presidencies both under one president. This is evident in the presidency that deals with domestic affairs and the one that deals with defense and foreign policies. Domestic affairs are the affairs that are concerned with his country such as Medicare and aid to education, natural resources etc. Defense and foreign policies on the other hand involve country protection for instance manpower and international issues such as treaties with other countries.
For a long time, presidents have succeeded in nation’s defense and foreign policies as opposed to the domestic affairs. Presidents find it hard to succeed in domestic affairs because the congress support is vital before any domestic policies are amended. Defense and foreign policy are easy to succeed as they only require the president getting a viable policy and then he always mostly get support for the policy. Therefore, United States has got two presidencies.
Is presidential supremacy in the arena of foreign policy/national security a new phenomenon or did the Founders have these two presidencies in mind when they drafted the Constitution
The presidential supremacy in the arena of foreign policy/national security is a new phenomenon and is not because of their powers in the Constitution that was drafted by their founders. This can be drawn from the following factors:
Increase in diplomatic relations.
The number of nations in diplomatic relations with United States has increased from 53 in 1939 to 113 in 1966. This is because of the increasing speed of events in the international arena. For instance, blunder at Bay of Pigs was followed by the Catastrophe of the Cuban missile crisis.
The World Influence
Presidents would gain by prolonged delay or by not acting at all, and by so the problem could be passed to their successors, but that is in the past. At the moment, the state of the world is in their hands and if it deteriorates then they must expect to pay the high costs themselves. This thus makes them to spend most of their time on defense and foreign affairs.
Great nations, United States included are interested in any small detail that happens in the entire world. This is because they have thermonuclear weapons which other countries may not have. The dominance of great nations in the whole world can be seen from reactions termed as cold war such as the reaction against the blatant isolation of the 1930s, the cold war of Burundi.
People are more confident in their president when he engages in foreign affairs and brings victory back home. This is evident in Gallup Rolls which have shown frequently that the president’s popularity rises after he engages in an action in a crisis and this does not consider whether the action was disastrous such as in the Bay of Pigs or successful like in the Cuban missile crisis.
For instance, the fact that many people did not like the Vietnam wars, President Johnson’s popularity did not increase much. Though his idea was well develops, it took a long time for the public to gain interest on the same. This is in contrary to the bombing of oil field near Haiphong which gained President Johnson much popularity.
Another phenomenon is that the world has become a dangerous place to live in and thus the president is forced to focus more on issues of national security so as to protect both America and its friends. Enemies are declaring war and are seeking weapons of destruction; therefore the president is forced to command defenses to be built against ballistic missiles. Through foreign policies, they also have to cooperate with other nations to deny, contain and curtail their enemies’ efforts to acquire dangerous technologies.
Today, the world’s great powers find themselves on the same side that is; they are united by common dangers of terrorists, violence and chaos. Therefore, the United States must build on these common interests to promote global security. In the process of doing this, more time will be focused on national security compared to domestic issues.
President’s supremacy in the foreign policy is not cause of the founders of the constitution because the trends seem to be changing. According to the constitution, the president relies on State department among other agencies to assist him in formulating and implementing the nation’s foreign policy decisions. The State department is headed by the Secretary of State but the influence of the Secretary of State on foreign policy making process has to be determined by the president first.
This is evident in the past presidents, for instance, during the time of Richard Nixon, the influence of the Secretary of State, then William P. Rogers, on the president and foreign policy was extremely restricted. However, a new phenomenon is seen in the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama in that there is a close relationship between the president and his secretary of State. Both actively involved their respective Secretaries of State into the foreign making process.
Foreign affairs decisions are seen as more important and irreversible. As such, presidents must devote huge resources to them, resources that will be used even in future. Consequences of events in foreign affairs manifest themselves faster and so presidents are willing to use up there resources.
Policy making in domestic matters on the other hand involves few decisions such as those involving dams and are easily reversible. Therefore, presidents tend to focus on foreign affairs policy more than the domestic ones.
Do you think that presidential supremacy is beneficial or harmful
Presidential supremacy has more benefits than harmful effects. The president is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and therefore he has the power to move troops. This is important because he is able to act quickly to situations that require urgency, for instance the emplacement of missles in Cuba and also the invasion of South Korea.
Through the Departments of State and Defense, the president can easily obtain information on developments abroad. By this, he is able to use the information to achieve goals and so the results are beneficial.
The president’s supremacy allows him to enhance his ability to control defense policy. In the previous years, he had to rely on the ability of the military for advice. Today, the president can select the best defense intellectual from the research corporations and the academics.
President supremacy is helpful in that they have the ability to enter into secrecy thus they have discretion that may be needed to handle some foreign affairs. This enables them to use executive agreements instead of treaties and is thus able to enter into tactic agreements instead of written ones; this at the end will help to create de facto situations that are not easily reversed.
It makes decision making process easy and short. This is because it is an independent action and thus decisions can be easily achieved without the lengthy discussion periods. A good example is in the 1978; President Carter announced suddenly that he could establish the diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republican of China and terminate the defense treaty with Republican of China after a one year’s notice required by the treaty. This was a sudden but positive decision despite the fact that the congress was against it.
It is beneficial as presidents have the character that is required in foreign relations as compared to domestic policy. This is because foreign policy requires decision, secrecy and dispatch and a uniform sensibility of national character. Also, presidents are accurate and comprehensive in the knowledge of the world.
Another reason is that the President has access to the best expertise of the executive bureau which coordinates and implements policies, hence it is beneficial.
The Common Defense, by Samuel E Huntington. NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1963. The beststudy of presidential participation in the making ofdefense policy.
Con~,,ressand the PresidemT. by Nelson W. Polsby.Englewood Cliff,s. New Jersey: Prentice Hall,1965. A fine short study of executive-legislativerelationships.
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