Category Archives: Checks and Balances

The Presidency and the Bully Pulpit

Public Opinion -- April 22, 1874

Public Opinion — April 22, 1874 (Photo credit: Cornell University Library)

Bully pulpit, a term first coined by President Theodore Roosevelt, refers to a political office, specifically the White House, as a powerful platform from which to advocate a political agenda. In other words, the President of the United States is in the position to use his office to rally public support or sway public. Currently, Pres. Barack Obama has been using the bully pulpit in an attempt to educate the American people concerning public policy .

The framers of the U.S. Constitution never intended the president to have the power to influence public opinion in the way advancements in communication technology now allows. However, the framers never intended for women to vote or for for the United States to declare itself the worlds policemen. Nevertheless, here we are. Do you believe it is appropriate for the modern president to leapfrog the Congress and talk directly to the American people in order to influence public opinion on public policy?



Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

Weekly Poll: How is Congress Handling the Benghazi Incident?

Some prominent members of the Republican Party in the Congress have harshly criticized the Obama administration for its mishandling of the incident in Benghazi on September 11, 2012; even calling for a Watergate-style of congressional investigation. What do you think?

Is Broken Government The New Normal?

The western front of the United States Capitol...

U.S. Capital Building

Divided government is a situation in which one party controls the White House and another party controls one or both houses of the United States Congress. Relatively rare until the late 20th century, divided government has become the norm as support for political power consistently ebbs back and forth between the two major political parties by the American electorate. Some political organizations view divided government as beneficial since it inherently increases checks and balances between the President and Congress. However, as the recent debate over the impending fiscal cliff revealed, divided government makes it difficult for the US government to function effectively. In fact, it can now be argued that nothing can be achieved by a divided government without urgency to avert a national crisis.

The framers of the US Constitution envisioned the establishment of a working relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. They did not create a system of perpetual gridlock. We must remember that political parties, the actual catalyst for divided government, did not exist at the time of the constitutional convention nor was the U.S. government designed with political parties in mind. George Washington said it best:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

The very nature of the unintended American two party system makes divided government the new normal. As such, is divided party government effectively synonymous with broken government?


MPSL VLog: Check-Up on Health Care Policy

How does the recent Supreme Court health care decision affect Obama’s chance at re-election? Professor Gaffaney explains.

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on this Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on the Affordable Care Act Decision

Some legal experts were surprised by Chief Justice John Roberts’ position on the Affordable Care Act decision. What do you think?