The American Empire: A Reality

1107 Words5 Pages
The United States has undergone significant changes since the Founders signed the Constitution in 1787 and created the largest federal republic at that time. When drafting the Constitution the Founders created checks and balances to limit the power of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Since 1787, however, the executive branch has accumulated a massive amount of power and authority over the other two branches. More acutely, the President has gained the authority to control the financial sector as well as the military industrial complex, and thus dictate how many Americans live their lives. This accumulation of power and authority has been systematic and cannot be considered an accident. The President of the United States can be considered an emperor because the executive branch has gained enough power and authority to be sovereign, and the Constitution grants the authority to use power to compel behavior. The three elements that constitute an empire are power, authority, and legitimacy. Article II, section 2 gave the President the power to act as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, allowed for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not otherwise described in the Constitution. Presidents have used the power delegated to them in Article II to expand their role from Commander in Chief to emperor. For instance, President Lincoln violated the Constitution by suspending the writ of habeas corpus in 1861 and held suspected Confederate under indeterminate imprisonment. Another instance where the President has shown that he will use delegated powers to act above the law came when Theodore Roosevelt decided to act as the stewa... ... middle of paper ... ... specifies the powers of the President, yet the President has continuously expanded his power, authority to use that power, facilitated popular acceptance to use these newly acquired powers to compel behavior at home and abroad. Historically, these have been the defining factors of an empire, and moreover, an Emperor. This transfer of power has been efficient and will continue unchecked until Americans realize their place as global citizens in a rapidly changing world. The idea of an American empire seems like and illegitimate claim to most Americans, but it became a reality during the 20th century and has only been accelerated during the first decade of the 21st century. This has occurred because the President has the power to compel behavior, the right to use power to compel behavior, and widespread willingness to accept the use of powers gained by the President.
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