Presidential Promises 2007
It's presidential election time again (just like very other day between one election and the next.) All of the candidates are running around rabidly spouting off their campaign promises. For that reason I thought it may be nice if we have a little reminder of what a president actually does.
You see, many candidates will promise that they will change a lot of old laws or get new laws created. There's a problem with that; presidents do not make laws. Making or changing laws is something that the legislature does. If these candidates want to make laws they should be running for Congress (let's ignore that many of them are members of Congress at the moment and probably haven't tried much of what they are claiming they will do when it is not their job.)
Of course, the president can sign or veto bills to affect their status as laws. That's a big difference from actually promising to create new laws. Presidents also are allowed to try to convince Congress to pass or deny certain laws. Again, that's a rather wimpy level of "authority" with which to make promises.
So, what can a president do? Well, he or she is in charge of enforcing existing laws (without breaking any laws in the process.) The president is the Commander in Chief of the military and can order the troops to do pretty much anything, again, without breaking any laws. It may be worth noting here that when Congress accepts a treaty with foreign governments then that treaty also becomes law and so it also binds the action of the president, the military, and any other externally operating agencies we may have on the payroll.
Now, when you hear a candidate for president promise something or other, your first question should be: Is that within presidential authority? If it's not, your next question should be: Does the candidate know this and is willing to lie blatantly, or is the candidate completely ignorant of what a president does? If you get the chance, make sure to ask these questions in person, preferably when there are cameras and microphones on.