The Power of the President
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Print The Power of the President
The Power of the President
By Brenda B. Covert
1 The United States of America has been a republic since 1783, when the Revolutionary War was won. Before that, we were subjects of Great Britain, a monarchy. Men from each of the 13 states formed the Congress that was meant to govern the states in the new nation's best interests. However, they had no leader, and each state's government chose to serve their own interests rather than those of the nation as a whole. There was no unity.
2 The men of that first congress created a new plan for the government. They called it "The Constitution of the United States of America." The Constitution laid out how the government should work. It also stated that one man should be the leader, and that people from every state would help to choose him. He is chosen through voting, and he is called the president. The U.S.A. elected its first president, George Washington, in 1787. The president and vice president continue to be the only government officials in the United States who are elected by and represent the entire nation.
3 There are rules for who can become president. According to the U.S. Constitution, to become president an individual must be at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen (born here), and a U.S. resident for 14 years prior to election. In reality, an American must meet several additional "requirements" to become president, such as owning considerable wealth and having strong political clout as he or she battles other candidates through the long election process. Those most likely to win the presidency are former vice presidents, well-known senators, and governors of major states. Individuals who have been leaders in the military, served as governors of smaller states, or made a name for themselves nationally in other ways are also strong contenders. All that is worthless, however, if one doesn't have the backing of a major political party. Like it or not, that's how the system works.
4 Every President recites the oath of office at his inauguration: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
5 The president is the head of the executive branch of the federal government. He or she delegates a lot of that authority. The executive branch consists of fifteen departments: agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, justice, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans affairs. The combined secretaries of all 15 departments make up the president's Cabinet. The secretaries are appointed by the president, but must be approved by a simple majority vote (51) of the Senate. A department secretary cannot be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office at the same time they are serving as a member of the Cabinet.
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