WashCo Dems Op-Ed: Presidential Elections & Legislative PowerWashCo Dems op-ed article

By Gary Peterson, PCP, Washington County

We need to remind ourselves of what the constitution says when we elect a President. The President does not have any legislative powers and can’t legally implement any of their agenda, plans, or initiatives. I ask, why are voters (and the media) asking questions like, “what are your plans for healthcare or immigration?” Shouldn’t the questions be, “how are you going to work with Congress to get meaningful legislation passed?” Or, “do you think that constitutional amendments are required to fix the gridlock in congress?” “Will you continue to use executive orders (not explicitly defined in the constitution) to execute your agenda?”

We, the voters, more often vote in Presidential Elections than off years thus giving the perception that it is more important. It’s only more important from the perspective that he can veto partisan legislation by the opposing party. Imagine a candidate saying that they would only sign bipartisan legislation. Imagine a candidate that could articulate a process that would facilitate making legislation that was in the best interest of the people and states, NOT party. Our founders were able to agree on the Constitution knowing it had flaws, but it gave the framework to become the Great Nation that we are.

The beauty of the Constitution of the United States is that it explains a simple process for governing. Article I in Section 1 says that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the United States, which shall consist of the Senate and House of Representatives.” The President of the United States is NOT mentioned and is NOT given legislative powers to make law. Section 2 & 3 says that the House is the people’s house and the Senate is the state’s house balancing the peoples voice with the state’s voice. Article II talks about the President; nowhere in the United States Constitution is a provision that explicitly permits the use of executive orders. The term executive power in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution is not entirely clear. The term is mentioned as direction to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” and is part of Article II, Section 3. The consequence of failing to comply could possibly be removal from office.

The most important question of a Presidential candidate is how are they going to resurrect the philosophy of our founders of passing legislation in the best interest of the people and states, NOT party.


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