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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:19

Video transcript

so John how is the role of the presidency changed over the the last several hundreds of years it's changed dramatically when first of all when the founders created the presidency they left it kind of loose they weren't exactly very specific about what a president would do and they realized that the first president George Washington and this is why he was so important was a man of virtue and that he in his behavior would set the precedents for the next president after him that means the job is basically handed off by tradition from president to president but that all and the reason why they didn't know what a president should do is that there wasn't a notion of a there wasn't a precedent for a king they knew what they didn't want they didn't want two things they didn't want a king they'd just gotten rid of one of those they didn't want a king and they also didn't some want somebody who's whipped around by mob rule they didn't so they were those were the two things they were trying to get between but a president has a lot of room to move in between the two of them and they thought we'll put it in the hands of a virtuous American George Washington a good first virtuous American and that person through the through their virtue and character would stay in the right place would not become a king and would not give over to the mob but it also meant that it relied on the character of the person in the presidency and so each president in subsequent years as it has taken shape in the presidency both by what was determined by their predecessors but also but what by what they could do in the job and what's happened is a job that started out very weak in the American system has now become one where some people think of all of it the entire of American government as the president and that's not what the founders wanted but how does that evolve because obviously the Constitution talks about the powers of the President so so how does it change so much over time what happened was when they originally created the presidency there was a debate and the debate was we need somebody who can move quickly we can't always be calling them into Congress because of course when the America was started that used to take several months or sometimes it would take weeks to get on a horse and get to Washington so we need an executive who can move quickly well what happened was and in various Wars America needed to move quickly and they needed one person to act on behalf of the entire Union well there's only one person who can do that but as people wanted quick action they handed over more power to the president Congress which used to fight with the president a lot during the Second World War and then on into our present day has given up a lot of its power to the president one of the key ones being the power to make war presidents can now go and make war well that's not the original way it was arranged and and they've done it because there is a hunger in the country for quick action but the problem and challenge of that is if you invest somebody in with power to do things quickly in an emergency they hold on to that power and they don't let it go and that means that they start doing things when it's not an emergency that is then not vetted by the American system and that system has both the judiciary and the legislative which are meant to hold back in a president who's trying to act too quickly and do too much I just go on this notion of making war as an example there's clear powers that you know Congress has to approve a war has the power of the purse so how did this happen is it they just do that as a ritual now well basically there are times and that Congress tries and makes attempts to try to pull power back from the president the only times they've been successful after the Second World War is really after Watergate the view was that the president had gotten too powerful that President Nixon who left office had abused the office and so Congress tried to pull some power back but again political parties which are now very close to the president it used to be the political parties were not so powerful if I'm a Republican in Congress and I want my Republican president to do well I'm going to give him the power he wants because we're connected in the old days if the president in the office was my of my party well that's nice but I've got my own views and I'm in Congress and I'm gonna do what I want and so essentially a lot of these powers that have gone to the president have been handed over to him not with a ceremony but just by lack of a fight by members of Congress in withdrawing from their traditional role as the founders wanted it as the key actor in American government that's no longer case in America today the president is the key actor and that every time that happens the next president for the next several president is wind that you allowed that to happen that that person I should have that power that's exactly right the it's almost like the powers conveyed to the new president like the furniture in the Oval Office and so they think well this this chair is pretty comfortable I'm not going to get rid of that and sit in the old you know uncomfortable wooden chair I want the all the plush trappings and here's another reason American politics has created a situation and television has made this so much worse where people run for office promising the Sun the moon and the stars so they say I can Donald Trump when he was running said I alone can fix it that is not the way the country was originally founded that one person could fix or unfix things it was supposed to be a country with representatives of the entire country but politics has created a system where whether it's a Republican or Democrat they run by saying I can do anything well that means when you get in the office you want those quick powers that allow you to keep those campaign promises and those quick powers are only quick if Congress and the courts aren't in the way so politics and the way you run for office makes presidents want to have every possible power at their disposal