Above Picture: 44th President Barack Obama (Born Oahu, Hawaii)
The office of the US Presidency is widely considered as the most powerful position in the whole government. As the US is also regarded as the most powerful nation in the world, it follows that for many, the US President is the most powerful person on Earth. But exactly what are the duties and powers of the US President?
Here are the particular roles that a US President is expected to fulfill:
1. Chief of State. This is a different role from “Chief Executive”, though in the US both those roles are filled by the President. In this role, the President acts as the living symbol of the country, just as in the UK it is Queen Elizabeth II who acts in this role. In this role, the President wards prestigious medals like the Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and also makes patriotic speeches for occasions such as the 4th of July.
2. Chief Executive. This is the same function that resembles the role of the UK Prime Minister, who is not the Chief of State. The Executive Branch enforces the laws in the land, and the President is the boss of the people who work here. That includes various federal branches and agencies including the CIA and the FBI.
3. Commander in Chief. All the military branches answer ultimately to the President who outranks even the most experienced generals and admirals. These military personnel take their orders from the President, who can order even a nuclear launch without consultation with other branches of government or anyone else. The President can decide where to send troops, including within US borders.
4. Diplomat. American Ambassadors and diplomats all answer to the President, who decides what these diplomats say to the representatives of foreign powers. In this function, the President can communicate with various world leaders to form agreements and treaties.
5. Legislative Leader. It is true that only Congress has the power to make laws, but this narrow interpretation ignores the vast influence that the President has in the creation of those laws. The President can speak before Congress beseeching them to pass certain laws, and influence particular congressmen and Senators to vote accordingly.
If Congress does pass a law which the President disapproves of, then the President can just veto the bill in order to prevent its enactment. Overcoming this veto requires a two-thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This rarely happens. The last three Presidents prior to Trump (Obama, Bush, and Clinton) vetoed a total of 61 bills, and only 7 of them were overridden.
6. Party Leader. The President appoints people to the Cabinet and to various positions in the Executive branch, and often these positions are offered to members of the President’s political party. This gives the President the de facto leadership role within the party hierarchy.
7. Economic Leader. While the president doesn’t actually control the economy, it’s also true that presidential economic policies on taxes and various other matters can greatly influence the state of the economy. Of all the duties and powers of the US President, it’s this function that offers the greatest influence for people in the US and around the world.