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In the USA features associated with the residing presidential system include: a codified constitution, making it difficult for a president to introduce contravening proposals, a separation of Powers between ‘trias politica’ with checks and balances, the president as the head of state and federalism, requiring the recognition of state authority. However, Stephen Graubard claimed in 2005 that “the US president is now as powerful as the monarch” suggesting that the liberty accumulated by the US President, in all respects, had greatly surpassed the level intended by the Founding Fathers in their drafting of the constitution. The use of executive orders by the President has allowed him to overcome the nuances and constitutional constraints of having to receive senate ratification of treaties. The President essentially decides if there will be a treaty, who with and its agenda and the direction of the foreign policy. Congress may not even get the chance to consider. Congress act merely as a reactive. The imperial presidency was a belief by Schlesinger in 1973 and has been claimed to have grown excessively. Regarding war powers, with the developing practice of military actions rather than declaring, allows the President to overcome constitutional restraints. On at least 125 occasions, and usually with congress acceptance, the president of the day have developed troops to conflict zones without express military authorisation from congress to whom the responsibility of declaring war is attributed by the constitution. In June 1950, Truman took military action in what was to become known as the ‘Korean War’. The fact that this was a war in all but name and there have only ever been five formal declarations of war implies that Presidents have annexed congress duties and have overcome this constitutional constraint. For example during Nixon’s administration he bombed Laos and Cambodia, something in which congress knew nothing about until after it had taken place. Despite the war [powers act implemented in 1973 aiming to address the balance of war powers giving congress the power of the purse, Presidents continue to consult congress later proving congress to be merely a reactive. Not to mention executive orders which allow the President to make decisions without a vote from congress, completely undermining the liberal democracy in which the framers intended on the USA being, completely avoiding mob rule. Crisis situations allow the Presidents power to maximise. For example the patriot act passed through both chambers untouched within one hour after the 9/11. Favours were in support od the president and this seemed to justify military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq post 9/11 as well as the torture in Guantanamo bay and extraordinary rendition that took place.see more
One feature of pluralism is that“political power belongs to the mass of the population”, that there is “people power”. Therefore, democracy is real and the rights of people are protected as there is freedom from government. Pluralists do not believe that power was always diffused but believe the gradual democratic evolution in the Western world saw the development of people power. An example of this in the UK is that there is universal adult suffrage. Pluralists would also point to the secret ballot and choice of political parties as reflections of democracy being real. Also, the US has elections for all levels of authority from the President to the governor to the country sheriff. In addition to this, anyone can join a political party, run as an MP and even go on to be the PM as reflected through Thatcher who was the daughter of a greengrocer. In the US, the Bill of Rights ensures all citizens can fulfil these rights such as freedom of expression. In the case of Texas v Johnson in 1989 a man’s freedom of expression was defended as it was ruled he was entitled to burn the US flag even though it could be seen as an act of defiance against the government.
Another feature of pluralism is that the state is neutral. The USC expressed the desire for America to have limited government to prevent “the tyranny of the majority” (de Tocqueville). Consequently, the state governments were set up to allow a wide range of people to be involved in decision-making and to prevent domination. These governments were to ensure the principle of limited government was upheld and to protect the people from government, ensuring the state acts for all the people. This also encourages “compromise, compromise, compromise” (Cooke). For example, there is a horizontal division of powers between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary and these are accompanied by various checks and balances such as the President only being able to declare war with 2/3 consent from the Senate.
A third feature of pluralism is that everyone has access to power and no one group dominates. CJ Hewitt, after his 20 year study in the UK, concluded that “no one pressure group consistently got its own way”. Therefore, a variety of groups were represented and there was “freedom to organise and to promote a range of opinions” which illustrates access to power is possible for all. For example, the UK currently has more than 7000 competing pressure groups ranging from Greenpeace to the British Medical Association. None of these groups always get their way but get their way at some stage such as the government consulting with them. For instance, in 1999 the Countryside Alliance opposed the bill to ban fox hunting and so they protested. This made the Labour Government rethink and delay their bill on the banning of fox hunting. Also, in the US the NRA has prevented the second amendment being repealed; the right to bear arms which shows the influence pressure groups have as well as it is only when the masses want change that it will happen, no one group dominates.see more
The vice president is below the president in rank and Obama’s Vice President is currently Joe Biden. Since the passage of the 12th amendment, the vice president can be elected jointly with the president as his running mate or they can be elected separately or indeed appointed independently after the president's election. The Vice President often ‘balances the ticket’ in terms of geography such as JFK who chose Lyndon B. Johnson as his vice president because he was from Texas a southern state. They can also balance the ticket in terms of age and race such as Obama’s selection of Biden. The role of the Vice President is to be the speaker in the Senate and so acts as the eyes and ears of the President in the Senate. He also has the casting vote in Senate votes and presides over impeachment proceedings of federal officers. The vice president is known as being “a heartbeat away from the presidency” as he is to act in place of the president on the event of his or her death as well as upon resignation or incapacity as stated in Article II of USC. An additional role of the VP is to be the president’s persuader for legislation such as Cheney phoning 55 Republicans to get Bush’s Detainees Bill through. If the president is not present, dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to fulfil his or her duties, the vice president will generally serve as president. Many view the Vice Presidency as a presidential training ground as 13 VPs have gone on to be President. In spite of this, the role can be seen as merely ceremonial and it was famously said to be “not worth a pitcher of warm spit” (Garner). However, Clinton’s VP, Al Gore was viewed as an intellectual heavyweight and often put the finer detail into Clinton’s policies and he is widely regarded as the most influential VP of the twentieth century. Yet perhaps Joe Biden has brought the role of the VP back to its traditional ceremonial role as he does not have the status of his two predecessors. Ultimately the strength of the role of VP depends on the popularity of the President, his relationship with the President, events and ability.see more