The Presidency

November 16, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 41
Is the executive branch too powerful?
By Sarah Glazer

Introduction

President Trump boards Air Force (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Mandel Ngan)
President Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Nov. 5, 2018. Trump's leadership style has exacerbated long-standing concerns that presidents — both Republican and Democratic — have been asserting more power, through executive orders and other means, than the Constitution intended. (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Mandel Ngan)

President Trump's governance style has heightened long-standing concerns that presidents have been asserting more power, through executive orders and other means, than the Constitution intended. For instance, no president has asked Congress for a declaration of war since World War II even though the Constitution reserves war-making power to the legislative branch. Some historians date the growth of presidential control to the New Deal-era expansion of the federal government, and others to the end of the Cold War and a decline of foreign policy expertise in Congress. Critics of Trump, pointing to his mounting executive orders and criticism of the justice system, worry that the American system of checks and balances could be in peril. Others see Trump's overturning of standing policies as the inevitable result of rising presidential power under both Republicans and Democrats. Trump's supporters say he is doing exactly what he was elected to do: disrupt Washington's traditions. Whether future presidents will follow Trump's example remains an open question.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Presidential Candidates and Campaigns
Nov. 16, 2018  The Presidency
Jan. 06, 2017  Trump Presidency
Mar. 06, 2015  Presidential Power
Feb. 03, 2012  Presidential Election
Jan. 30, 2009  The Obama Presidency
Aug. 08, 2008  Political Conventions
Jul. 18, 2008  Race and Politics
Apr. 20, 2007  Electing the President
Dec. 30, 1988  Promises vs. Problems
Jul. 10, 1987  Presidential Nomination Process
Feb. 03, 1984  Choosing Presidential Nominees
Jun. 06, 1980  Choosing Presidential Candidates
Apr. 09, 1976  Presidential Campaign Coverage
Feb. 23, 1972  Political Conventions
May 27, 1964  Foreign Policy Issues in Election Campaigns
Sep. 21, 1960  Voting in 1960
Jan. 06, 1960  Presidential Primaries, 1960
Jan. 04, 1956  Campaign Smearing
Nov. 30, 1955  Presidential Possibilities, 1956
May 09, 1952  Open Conventions
Jan. 16, 1952  Presidential Primaries, 1952
Oct. 12, 1949  Modernization of the Presidential Election
Jan. 14, 1948  Presidential Primaries
May 01, 1944  Foreign Policy in National Elections
Jan. 01, 1944  Choice of Candidates for the Presidency
Apr. 08, 1940  Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Apr. 01, 1940  Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
Aug. 19, 1938  Nomination by Primary
Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
Feb. 18, 1936  Presidential Candidates, 1936
Mar. 03, 1932  Decline of the Presidential Primary
Aug. 25, 1931  Presidential Candidates, 1932
May 05, 1928  National Nominating Conventions
Sep. 03, 1927  Presidential Candidates—1928
Jun. 14, 1927  Patronage Influence in Nominating Conventions
Sep. 11, 1926  The Future of the Direct Primary
Jul. 02, 1924  Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods
Jun. 04, 1924  The Machinery of the Political Conventions
Mar. 15, 1924  Presidential Candidates and the Issues
Sep. 05, 1923  The Passing of the Second Term
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Campaigns and Elections
Conservatism and Liberalism
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
Freedom of Information
Freedom of Speech and Press
Internet and Social Media
Journalism and the News
Judicial Appointments
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
Regulation and Deregulation
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
U.S. at War: Afghanistan
U.S. at War: Cold War
U.S. at War: Iraq
U.S. at War: Vietnam
U.S. at War: World War II