Jeffrey Tulis: Dilemmas and Frustrations of the Modern Presidency

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Over the years, Jeffrey Tulis has given his perception on the presidency in a broad and clear manner. In one of his works, The Two Constitutional Presidencies he identifies two versions. First, the Constitutional presidency as one who is dictated and explained by the constitution; he draws his authority from the Constitution and doesnt lead the public opinion. Second, the constitutional presidency that draws his influence from his ability to lead the people, hence an activist and a leader. The president has the chance to choose his version depending on his ideas and policies but all in all the constitution is inevitable, and all laws in it need to be followed regardless of if they will compromise the presidents manifesto.

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In the modern presidency, many have found themselves in dilemmas and frustration as they strive to serve the people that elected them. It is through judgment that it is establish that individuals and the past presidents have offered much to the citizens as compared to the modern presidents. All the attributes of the modern presidency can be traced back to the Constitution which limits their individual capacity to perform as a whole. The dilemmas between the two presidencies can be traced to the tension between the two constitutions. The modern presidency has the chance to showcase what they will do once in office, but when they get there, they lack the capacity to do so therefore failing to deliver the promises (Nelson, 2013).

When a prospective president is campaigning, he always has a lot to offer the citizens which if well outlined and realistic can grant him the successful election. It is really after engagement with those in government with him and the legal counsellors that his perception changes. President Obama promised and still would like to do much for the public. To raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour, but those behind him are not for the proposal. It is expected that the entire leader, but the constitution dictates his boundaries and states policies. Therefore, he fails to deliver on our side. In the case of Obama care, the president struggled it through as he faced much opposition (Pozen, 2014-2015). It is through his reasoning and perseverance that he succeeded. In most cases, all he can do is make speeches and give proposals which their probability of passing can be very slim.

In most cases, the modern presidency still has the chance to get involved in decision making and leadership, but anxiety and extension are part of it. These decisions would be about administrative enforcement actions, citizen welfare, domestic tranquility, justice and prosperity to all. However, this has not been attained in the modern presidency as expected of them in their constitution pledge (Genovese, 2011). Anxiety has ruled out their minds as they find ways to woo the citizen for re-election some starting campaigns for instance Obamas We Cant Wait campaign. Further, they can make decisions that can put the rule of law to risk like when they get involved in criminal judgements or make the situations better than they found them. In April 2010, America faced a major mining accident where lives were lost and Obama, the president then, ordered specific deployment of inspectors in all mines to determine their state. This move was not much questioned as his party controlled both houses. Years later, Obama couldnt take similar decisions as the two houses werent on his side (Andrias, 2013). Once a president makes a proposal, it has to be approved before implementation.

Jeffreys thesis stated that many of the dilemmas and frustrations of the modern presidency may be traced to the presidents ambiguous constitutional station, a vintage lace composed of conflicting elements. A president will still be guided by the constitution. Either way, times will come when he will decide to be a leader or simply follow the constitution without questioning. One should choose to stand firm in leadership and serve the public selflessly without minding much about the threats posed by the political system.


Andrias, K. (2013). The President's Enforcement Power. N.Y.U.L.

Genovese, M. A. (2011). The Presidential Dilemma: Revisiting Democratic Leadership in the American System. Transaction Publishers.

Nelson, M. (2013). The Presidency and the Political System, tenth edition. CQ Press.

Pozen, D. E. (2014-2015). Self-Help and the Separation of Powers. THE YALE LAW JOURNAL.

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