Executive Power

A pretext to this conversation:  Even at the drafting of the constitution there were people that wanted a powerful centralized national government, but I believe the majority being sent to represent their respective states, wanted a federal government with enough power to hold the union together and no more.  They want to govern in their states.  They just broke from a far away centralized power that they could not control nor influence.

To their defense, they felt that the Electoral College and thinking of the time would extend to wise men being selected by the states to be president and act to preserve our freedom and the integrity of the union (Republic) therefore protecting the states, the constitution and “Faithfully execute the laws of the land” hence the oath of office.

The current state at the time, of the continental congress and the articles of the confederacy were being overrun by the states.  They wanted to bolster it, pay back the war debt and create a strong union.  They never intended or dreamed to take the power to govern the people away from the states.  If that were the case the constitution never would have been ratified by the states.  They would not have given up their power.

Even the constitution says:

That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

The point being, and I will expand on this further in a post on the rule of law, we were to govern ourselves, power closest to the people, not by the whims of an individual, or as Madison repeated the passions of faction.  But today we care more about electing the president than any official we may know and even influence.   Below is a excerpt from an article/book that talks about the constitution and Article II, executive power.

The constitution does not specify with precision the consitutional powers of the three departments nor the boundaries that separate them.  Artictle II sets out the powers of the executive.  These may be charaterized either as percise (e.g. The veto, power to adjourn congress if its houses do not agree, the power to call congress into a special session) or as imprecise because they involve ambiguities and limits that are not specified, or because they seem incomplete, or because the president claims the silences in the document (the removal power for example).  In such cases the president, in exercising perrogatives, may be charged by critics with infringing on the powers of other departments. 

Madison wanted checks and balances, and enumverated powers that would define and therefore confine the executive power.  Hamilton and others in the circle around Washington wanted vague general termas (Executive power, Commander-in-chief) that would permit vast expansions of executive power once the constitution was ratified by state conventions suspicious of such power.   And Hamiltons allies controlled the committee on style that drafted the final version.  So, Article II can be read through either Madisonian or Hamiltonian interpretation.

Hamilton was for a powerful central Government and Madison ultimately took the journey towards states rights.

Every president we have had has created a more powerful executive.  We need to find a way to contract that power.  Amendments to Article II?  Detailing jurisdiction, power, refining executive orders and power?  We need to start by empowering our states to fight for and take back our power.


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