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American Constitution

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The American Constitution was intended to bring political transformation slowly and with difficulties and this has positioned it at chances with the diverse insurgencies that have, occasionally, swept over it. Undeniably, a number of things in the development of American politics are more exciting than the inventiveness of empowering movements in confounding checks and balances that frustrate their ambitions. Moreover, noting has proved to be more significant for the American government in due course despite the institutions and ideas they have invoked to ease the constraints. American presidency is regarded as one of the principal products of the political mechanism of lawful inference. Regularly, the presidential office has proved to be essential to the political ambitions of the newly empowered reform associations and each has introduced a new set of institutional resources and legitimating ideas premeditated to accomplish them. It may seem obvious that the president is exceptionally fierce for transformative ambitions but the fact remains that the presidency becomes one of the big paradoxes of the design of the American constitution. The flamers of the American constitution feared that such leaders would directly appeal to the people for one political program or another, and they formed the presidency largely to check well-liked enthusiasms. The framers anticipated moments where there would be a complete separation of powers between the different branches of the government.

The framers of the Constitution emplaced checks and balances within the American Government to ensure no branch would overreach another, and the public would be free from the fear of tyrannical rule or abuse of power. Scholars have debated for years, particularly in the last couple of decades, whether the intentions of the writers have been carried out. Some of them, including Peter Shane, argue that public officials have drastically strayed from the intended design of the government. In his book, Madison’s Nightmare: How Executive Power Threatens American Democracy, he argues that constitutional checks and balances have been distorted, they created an expansion in presidential powers that has led to an executive branch that ignores the suggestions of Congress, which, in turn, leads to poor decisions and errors. On the other hand, some scholars such as John Yoo have asserted that contemporary interpretations of the Constitution, namely the necessity for an authoritative Executive, is required to adapt to ever-changing phenomena that governments presently face. In his article, Fighting the War on Terrorism Requires Relaxing Checks on Presidential Powers, he stresses that the executive branch is actually acting within its constitutional rights and that former presidents have consistently exercised this power since as far back as the Lincoln Presidency – whereas Shane detailed specific accounts of an authoritative executive using the Bush administration as his leading example.

Shane uses a narrative style to tell people how the American dream was born. He candidly explains how early American scholars led by Madison wrote the Constitution and attempted to envelop what their interests were for the American public using qualitative descriptions to bring home his idea. Easily readable, this piece does not merely appeal to an audience of the legal fraternity but rather to all-interested in the political science field. On the other hand, Yoo’s article is vague with constitutional descriptions as well as supportive examples that require general background knowledge of political science, but still aiming to appeal to political scientists and/or students.

Peter Shane asserts that the government’s position can never be commanded by any rational view of power separation, as this inspection only serves to concentrate power in a single government branch. It has been made clear that a war state is not an empty check for the president considering the nation’s citizens’ rights. Whatever power envisioned by the United States’ government for the executive in times of disagreements with enemy organizations and other nations, most confidently envisions a responsibility for all the three government branches when individual freedoms are at stake. However, Yoo holds a different opinion and disregards these statements. To his critics, he holds the fact that war shifts power to the branch bearing the greatest responsibility for it waging, the executive. He regards Mr. Bush as a “King George” bent on an “imperial presidency”. At this instant, claiming the president of having a degree of discretion, Yoo thought of two things; firstly, the president is so omniscient that he barely makes mistakes; secondly, the president is just but a common person who is liable of making many mistakes. Considering Yoo’s general cares about the people’s welfare, he still believed the US constitution conferred on the president any power he claims. He claims that the president has powers to make war without a war declaration by Congress (Yoo, War by other Means, 2006).

Yoo continues to hold the fact that the Constitution gives the president a primary role in far-off affairs and that the Authorization for Use of Military Force, accepted by Congress after 9/11, grants the President with extensive authority to carry war on terrorism in the way he deems suitable (Yoo, 2006). He reiterates that the law was written to ensure that there could be no allegation portraying the resident as acting on terrorism war without the Congress support. He perceives that going by the constitution during times of terror does not yield much.

Shane is predominantly compelling in his evocation or the thought to inherent norms underwriting a government attending to checks and balances. In the various majorities of cases, there is no way to enforce discussions or the open information flow. Bureaucrats, officials and politicians must understand various ways of checks and balances alongside other parties interested. The image of the collective decision-making of the governments in all its branches undergoing the checks and balances constitutes the larger ethos here. From Nixon onwards, the republican presidents have fought to destroy this ethos; though more on the practical level and they do insist on an indispensable secrecy regarding the executive actions while also striving to inflict a much stricter control from top to down over the entire executive branch. They have mounted an embattled presidency working against all other branches of governance to achieve ends. Shane precisely doubts that once the ethos underwriting checks and balances are destroyed, the ethos cannot be easily revived. 

Madison has focused on the modern presidentialism excesses and Shane stresses the fact that the system designed by the founders of power was not just to control abuses from the individual government branches. By calling for deliberation and bargaining among the various government branches, the system has the function of enhancing the decision-making quality by each branch. In addition, with the extravagant claims, backdrop of independent power witnessed during the Bush administration, Madison’s Nightmare convincingly exhibits the “pluralist” perspective importance for a well-functioning and for a law-bound executive branch as well.

While Yoo gives a straightforward argument endorsing presidential actions as constitutional, Shane outlines his opposing view through several chapters of descriptive details about how things have been. In the first chapter, he examines three reasons for the current dilemma some believe is plaguing our system. Firstly, he observes the necessity for checks and balances that the Constitution specifically required of its governing body (Shane, p.5-9). Next, he details the 1981-2009 right-wing dominance.

The essential principle driving Yoo’s conclusions is his uncompromising belief that during war periods, the president in the position of the commander-in-chief is solely in charge (Yoo, 2006). Torture, deterrence and surveillance must all be within the unilateral control of the president. The Supreme Court and the Congress must differ from the judgment of the president. This reckless, extreme and dangerous view has shaped the government policies to nothing short of irresponsible. Even the United States’ Court of Appeal judge no slouch advocating the government’s aggressive use of power to fight terrorism, charged that Yoo’s excessive interpretation of the president’s power confounds authorizing the armed forces with applying tyrannical control; the sought Hitler and Stalin exercised. Yoo has indeed done the American’s a great service through offering insights into the analysis of Bush Administration and exposing this reasoning into the light of day. The courts, the Congress and the American people must renounce his understanding of Bush administration and the constitution.

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