The American presidency has grown in power almost continuously since the outbreak of World War II. The executive has risen from being simply the chief magistrate of the government to be being a quasi-legislative force, a leader who pushes an aggressive legislative agenda as well as enforcing the laws passed by the legislature. The president is frequently referred to as “the most powerful person in the world,” or “the leader of the free world.” Such appellations represent far more than good PR. They are statements of fact that the president of the United States has drastically more power and authority than any other individual on Earth. For that reason certainly, presidents should be restricted to a single term of office.
When asked to imagine the birthplace of our contemporary republican democracy, most educated people point to the democratic traditions of ancient Athens and to the institutions and offices of the Roman Republic. Yet, Athens was destroyed and its democracy destroyed centuries before the birth of Christ, and the Roman Republic succumbed to imperial despotism in 27BC. These shining examples continued to burn as embers of remembrance long after their practical extinction, thanks to a political and intellectual class dedicated to the preservation of ancient documents and knowledge. But while preserving the records, the successor states of both Athens and Rome were neither democratic nor republican in character.
In my last post I discussed the apparent inversion of the responsibility of the executive branch of government, namely that it has taken on a far greater role in domestic policy while turning its back in large part on its traditional responsibility for foreign affairs. The result has been an over-mighty presidency at home, a weakened and ineffectual Congress, and a rudderless foreign policy. While I challenged the American public to rise against the tide of executive overreach, I did not thoroughly address what Congress itself can do to challenge the siphoning away of its traditional powers. There is in fact a great deal it can do.
Author and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy joined the Heartland Institute on June 12th to talk about his new book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, with a packed and lively crowd of Heartland supporters. McCarthy was incisive and exceptionally convincing.
Limiting the term of office served by elected politicians has been a controversial issue in the United States for many years. At one time the federal government had no term limits, with the president and Congress allowed to remain in office as long as they could get reelected. Today, the president is limited to two terms, but congressmen and senators are still free to run again and again. And they do.
Regardless of where someone may view himself along the political spectrum (conservative, libertarian, or modern liberal), there are always a variety of government programs and activities that they either think are not worth the money or should not be the business of government in the first place. Yet, it seems almost impossible to rein in government. It keeps growing in size and scope in one direction after another. Why? And is there any way to reverse it?