Is the President of the US just a figurehead?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #1
    How about the Supreme Court? Congress?

    Thoughts.
     

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  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6

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  3. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Doesn't sound too crazy to me. I mean there are massive powers the president (no matter who it is). So in a sense, yes it's just a figurehead that some other entities/people control to have their way...
     
  4. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #4
    My personal view is that he is not completely powerless, but we can't, for instance, applaud or blame Obama short term on what happens with the economy. I meet people who expect things to turn around in just months as if he has some magic wand.

    As for the Supreme Court, and many don't know this, including fellow law students, that they don't "make" or even propose law, he he, that's for Congress.

    That leads me to that entity, Congress, and yes, they are the most powerful "branch" of our government by far. Logically, who has most power - one person with 8 year limit, 9 justices, or hundreds of members of Congress very well funded by special interest groups?

    Kennedy put it best when he saw the limits of his power when dealing with Congress. "It's like nailing jello to a wall." Why do you think Newt Gingrich was smiling all the time in the 90s? It pissed me off being that I voted for Clinton twice, but since Gingrich, I can't help but notice how Speakers of the House walk around as if they are the "gatekeeper". And yes, Pelosi has that same look on her face. ;)
     
  5. steve2112 macrumors 68040

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    #5
    Wow, and here I thought I was the only one these days that realized the president doesn't actually run the entire economy of the US. (yet) Contrary to popular belief, President Bush didn't single handedly tank the economy. You are dead on, though. The president doesn't actually make any laws. Yeah, he can make executive orders, but that is about it. If, as you pointed out, Congress doesn't like the President, they can pretty much stop all his grand plans dead in their tracks. I have often wondered why so many Senators run for president, since it seems a step down in power. Notice you don't see the Speaker running for president.

    I disagree about the Supreme Court, though. No, they don't technically make laws, but by judicial review of laws, they do uphold laws. Look at Roe v Wade. No, they didn't make a law making abortion legal, but by preventing states from completely outlawing it, they did make it legal.
     
  6. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    In Constitutional Law, the overall scope of the Supreme Court is looked at. Roe v. Wade is an example of where something big is done, but in the overall context of how many things are changed, it's very small. This in recent times has been a really sore point with justices chosen initially by Republican presidents. So many decisions, concurrences, and dissents of so called "safe" conservative justices have fallen into liberal territory. While a justice may have a conservative point of view, the law they are trying to uphold was put together by the founding fathers with a liberal, enlightenment point of view.

    To say the Supreme Court has power is a huge embellishment of who they are as compared to either Congress or the Federal Reserve. They are not completely empty robes, but much of American jurisprudence has been formed very slowly over time and it is unlikely any justice will see significant changes in their lifetime. I hold some Libertarian views and some Green Party views, but I know as long as the Constitution is there, any sweeping societal changes will come slowly. It's the strength of our legal system as well as it's biggest weakness. Many law school textbooks have important cases in different areas of law in chronological order and reading through those cases and seeing minute changes in law is akin to watching glaciers melt. ;)

    Remember in high school civics when the teacher said the US Government is the three branches of the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Executive Branch? Yes, that's true but what many Civics teachers fail to tell the kids is that one is a huge trunk and two are twigs by comparison. And when the high school teacher would compare our system with England, there would be a quick mention of Parliament and the House of Lords. Being kids, we naturally thought that meant they were equal in power. Later in life, as a college student there, I certainly found out there was a distinct difference in who carried the weight. I am sure many other countries have interesting power setups of how people perceive them, and how things are really run.
     
  7. KingYaba macrumors 68040

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    #7
    Aliens and their anal probes run the government.
     
  8. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #8
    Unfortunately, they were doing that for months leading up to the election - people (including Obama himself) seemed to regard him as some kind of messiah who would turn the whole world around, everyone would hold hands and hum Kum-Ba-Yah, we'd have world peace, nobody would ever get toothaches, etc. etc. But there isn't a single position in the world that has the power to do what people seemed to expect of Obama.

    As far as I'm concerned the jury is still out on the job he's doing. I didn't vote for him, he's done or said a handful of things I think were okay but dropped the ball on some others IMO.

    Count me in as well :D

    And Obama isn't singlehandedly going to fix it, either.

    The economic troubles we've all been experiencing are worldwide; it's not even limited to the U.S., and it's not limited to a single sector. There isn't one person, or even one country, that's responsible for the "mess" we're all stuck cleaning up.
     
  9. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #9
    Hey, that was the last administration!
     
  10. Iscariot macrumors 68030

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  11. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

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    #11
    How peculiar it is that a thread questioning the true power of the President observes the proper capitalization rules for the title that most everyone omits, even the media.
     
  12. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #12
    With this POTUS, I give him the proper title, but with the last POTUS, I usually called him Dumbya or junior.
     
  13. steve2112 macrumors 68040

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    #13
    Wow, so do you want to run for office? You have a better grasp of the whole economic picture than many of our so-called leaders. Or the mainstream media. Oh yeah, and a big percentage of people in this country who are standing around crying and waiting on the government to swoop in and fix everything.

    I have worked for/around the federal government for several years, and I have seen that the U.S. government never fixes anything. In fact, the government has the amazing ability to utterly screw things up. Every time some new federal initiative is announced, I cringe, because I believe it will ultimately be totally screwed up by the time everybody (meaning Congress) gets their dirty little paws on it.

    The simple fact is that the shape our economy is in is part of being a nominally capitalist system. There are ups and downs to such a system, and they usually work themselves out. Nobody in the government can truly fix it, unless we want to end up with a planned economy, and we all know how well that worked for the USSR.

    Oh, and the Freemasons don't run the country. It's the Illuminati. Get it straight. Well, and also the Tri-Lateral Commission, and the Colonel and his fried chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly! :D
     
  14. Tomorrow macrumors 604

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    #14
    You couldn't pay me enough. :p :)

    +1 - the landing at the end of the fall might have been a little harder, and the climb back to the top might have been a little more painful, but I think this recession would have worked itself out just like all the others with little to no government intervention. I'm afraid of the long-term effects of all this spending.
     
  15. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Well it worked for you though, since you got paid for you work. Don't spit where you used to eat, it doesn't look good...
     
  16. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Sure it works itself out, but what about the cost? People loosing jobs, houses? Does anybody care about that or is it all about spending effects?
     
  17. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #17
    On the face of it the president runs things, but you have figure heads that have been in the wings far longer that pull all the strings. Does the president learn every dirty little secret about the country the second he takes office or are there things he never finds out.
     
  18. Tomorrow macrumors 604

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    #18
    I metaphorically referred to those things in my post (which you quoted).

    So the government is spending unprecedented billions to stimulate the economy and pull us out of a recession. Is it working? Well, the recession seems to be loosening its grip, but how much of that is because of the stimulus, and how much would have happened on its own?

    In case you haven't noticed, millions of people have already lost their jobs and/or their homes. The stimulus didn't make those unfortunate symptoms of the recession go away - so arguing that the alternative to massive spending is job and home losses doesn't really hold up.

    The purpose of my post was to say that without this much government intervention, we would have pulled out of the recession anyway. I don't know how many people would have lost their jobs, or their homes - but that seems like a silly point to argue, since it has happened anyway.

    There have been times in history where the government does very little to nothing to recover from a recession and we did so just fine, most recently around 2001 - the only real policy changes then were that the Fed lowered interest rates and Congress cut taxes.
     
  19. yg17 macrumors G5

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    #19
    You should call the last one Governor because that was the last position he was legally elected to :D
     
  20. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I can't agree against your logic. However my point was the quantity of these job losses and home foreclosures hadn't the government stepped up? It's impossible to figure out a number, but in my opinion, it would have been a lot worse.
    2001 was nothing compared to what's going on right now. It didn't affect the world economy as much as what happened in the last year.
     
  21. Tomorrow macrumors 604

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    #21
    I might not have spelled it out in so many words, but that's exactly what I said. The only things I said that you didn't are (1) the recovery would still have happened with little or no government intervention, and (2) the recovery would have happened more quickly and without as much residual debt as a result.

    Yes, it's likely that unemployment might have gone up even more. Yes, there would likely have been more bankruptcies. And yes, there may have been even more home foreclosures. But the aftereffects of this stimulus are going to have some lingering negative effects for a much longer time than had the government not spent all that money.
     
  22. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    And you think that unemployment going up, more bankruptcies and more foreclosures are not that big of a deal compared to debt in terms of aftereffects? My view is that on a long term basis the aftereffects of such events would be worse than debt...
     
  23. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #23
    For those concerned about the President and this recession, I suggest hunting for info on the Depression of 1920. The rate of decline in the economy was sharper, the rate of job loss was greater, but the government did nothing. It was over in a couple of years and then we got the Roaring Twenties.

    After the Crash of October of 1929, Hoover and then FDR did the spend and infrastructure thing. Bush and Obama have replicated those efforts. It would appear that we'll see equal success.

    The Fed and the Treasury work together, which says to me that the policies of the Fed either come from the President through the SecTreas or he signs off on the ideas of SecTreas. Historically, the top officials in the Fed and the Treasury Department come from the insiders of Wall Street. If the President is using their advice to set his monetary policy, then it could be said that he's a figurehead. After all, Obama has no background whatsoever as to monetary policy issues.
     
  24. Tomorrow macrumors 604

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    #24
    I think they are a big deal, but I think they would (1) bottom out faster and (2) recover more quickly if the government hadn't mortgaged our future for God-knows-how-many years.

    Historically, this has almost always been the case.
     
  25. MTI macrumors 65816

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    #25
    If being a "figurehead" means being the Commander in Chief of the US military; the chief executive of the Executive branch of government, which includes Cabinet departments and the Foreign Service . . . then I guess it is a figurehead position.
     

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