g laws, can neither of them consist with the ends of society and government, which men would not quit the freedom of the state of nature for, and tie themselves up under, were it not to preserve their lives, liberties and fortunes; and by stated rules of right and property to secure their peace and quiet.” Thomas Paine (1997, 6), another figure whose influence on early American thinkers cannot be understated, warned in his pamphlet Common Sense “the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of the monarchy.” With anti-monarchist influences like Locke and Paine, it’s not wonders that the architects of the American constitution constructed a political system that significantly limited the powers of the executive branch and instituted a number of difficult-to-navigate checks and balances.
Much debate surrounded the exact role of the President during the early constitutional debates that followed the American Revolution. However, it was universally agreed upon that a strong separation of powers was needed. Much of the debate surrounded exactly how powerful, or how weak, the executive branch, headed by the President, was to be. The founders of the American constitution agreed (MacDonald, 1994, 126) “that safety and ordered liberty cannot exist without competent government and that government without an executive authority is no government at all.” Ultimately, the founders agreed on a concept that would create a natural and permanent tension between the President, the chief executive, and the members of Congress who were responsible for the legislation of the nation’s laws. They did this be ensuring that the new constitution contained (Thach, 1969, 70)“no constitutional legal barrier which Congress could not at pleasure cross.” This intuitional strength that the founders granted Congress would significantly diminish the powers of the American executive, especially when ...
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