Free «Governance in Divided and Unified Governments» UK Essay Paper
Table of Contents
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- Bill Clinton’s Presidency
- Barack Obama’s Presidency
- Similarities and Differences between Governance in Unified and Divided Governments
- How the Office of the President Is Constrained in a Divided Government
- How the President Gets Personally Constrained in a Divided Government
- The Limitations of the Executive Power in the American System of Government
- Related Free Political Essays
The role of governance in a society is to foster the control of all processes within a region by influencing the course of various activities with authority. Both unified and divided governments are imperative in ensuring governance in a given country. In the United States, these two categories of governments are associated with similarities and differences in the types of governance that they portray. For instance, according to Cane (106), the divided government is whereby one party controls all the processes within the executive branch (White House), whereas another one governs the legislative branch (Congress). On the other hand, a unified government is characterized by one party controlling both the executive and the legislative branches of the government (Cane 106). On this note, various people prefer one type of government to the other, as they consider it to be more beneficial. Thus, the analysis of governance in the executive branch under these governments, using Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s presidencies as case studies, facilitates the understanding of their similarities and differences, including the limitations of executive power in the American governance system.
Bill Clinton’s Presidency
Bill Clinton’s presidency exhibited both a divided and a unified governance system in the US from 1993 to 2001. The first two years of Clinton’s tenure were associated with a unified government whereby the Democratic Party governed both the legislative and the executive branches of the government. Since he was a Democrat, his party was in control of the Congress for the first two years after which the Republican Party occupied the leading position for the rest of the period of his leadership. For example, during this period, Clinton signed the 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act that was responsible for raising taxes and setting a platform for budget surplus (Cane 108). Additionally, he signed the North American Free Trade Agreement into law and offered support to other free trade policies. The implication is that governance under the unified government gave President Clinton the necessary support that facilitated the enactment of these laws.
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However, during the last six years of his presidency, Clinton experienced major challenges in leadership since the Republicans who took control of the Congress failed to agree with the Democrats on many issues. As a result, Clinton’s presidency was marred by several inconsistencies regarding governance owing to the opposing pressure from the Republicans. Nevertheless, after thorough negotiations, some bills were signed into law, including the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Barack Obama’s Presidency
Similar to Bill Clinton, Obama also led the US by presiding over both the unified and the divided governments from 2009 to 2017. In his first two years, Obama’s Democratic Party controlled both the executive and the legislative sections of the US government. Consequently, Obama was able to pass various bills into law without much opposition. For instance, introduced the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in as much as most Republican legislators failed to support the law in protest. Apparently, this implies that the majority backed up the president signing various bills into law despite the opposition from the Republican Party. Obama also executed various functions with the support of his colleague Democrats. In this case, he ensured lawful interrogations, reviewed the detention policy options, and oversaw the amendment of several executive orders among other functions.
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The remaining years that President Obama led the US were eventful as the Republican Party controlled the Congress. During this period, the executive branch of the government faced great opposition from the Republicans, thereby leading to the stiff governance of the US in the process of enforcing laws. Consequently, the executive orders by the president were faced with great opposition.
Similarities and Differences between Governance in Unified and Divided Governments
The two types of governments exhibit similarities in various features regarding execution and legislation. For example, Cane (105) argues that both the unified and the divided governance are similar in the context of making decisions upon varying opinions on different subject matters. For instance, in the case of a bill, the Republicans may propose a bill and support it whereas the Democrats may reject and oppose it, creating two sides regarding the bill. Therefore, under both the unified and the divided governments, the vote counts in making decisions. Considering that a unified government controls both the executive and the legislative branches, the ruling party often provides major support for any bill (Cane 113). On the other hand, in a divided government since the ruling party controls the executive branch whereas the opposing party controls the legislative branch, there is often a significant challenge when the ruling party attempts to perform its functions. Thus, the vote is an important tool in making such decisions for both types of governments.
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Additionally, the unified and the divided government types are similar in the aspect of administrative functions and related operations. Although in a divided government the White House and the Congress are controlled by different parties, all other administrative functions are performed effectively, regardless of the powers of the ruling party and the opposition in governing the country. Additionally, the constitutional provisions are duly observed, and each branch of the government performs its mandate, regardless of the governance system in place (Cane 112). Therefore, the normal government activities and constitutional requirements are conducted and observed in both types of governments respectively.
The unified and divided governments differ remarkably in several aspects concerning governance. For example, the divided model portrays a division of separate entities of governance whereby the executive and legislative branches of the US government function independently. Thus, there is complete separation of powers implying that the powers of one body do not conflict with the other one and are not affected by its functions (Cane 105). However, in the case of a unified government, leadership is associated with the fusion of powers whereby the legislative and executive functions of the governance system are consolidated into a single entity. Consequently, the functions of one branch are influenced by the other in a harmonized and supportive manner. The implication is that governance in the divided government system entails the independence of the executive and legislative roles, whereas the unified government involves the harmonization of these entities.
Additionally, the influence of the president over the functions of the two branches of government is more pronounced in the unified government rather than the divided one. In light of the fact that in this case the majority of the members in the Senate and the House are members of the president’s political party, they tend to act in accordance with his or her recommendations with little to no objections (Cane 112). Nevertheless, the president is less influential in a divided system of government considering that the opposing party controls the Congress. Evidently, this implies that the president is not influential in the activities happening in the Congress, including some executive roles within the office of the president. In this way, these two categories of governments differ in the capacity of the president to influence the legislative and executive functions of the government.
How the Office of the President Is Constrained in a Divided Government
The office of the president often faces major setbacks regarding governance in the case when an opposing party controls the Congress due to differences in opinions and recommendations. Considering that the divided system of governance is ascribed to the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive branches, the office of the president usually faces major opposition in various proposals that are devised (Cane 109). For example, in Obama’s presidency under the divided government, the members of the Republican Party in both the Senate and the House developed unity to foster strong opposition to the several policies put forward by the Democrats. In this case, the opposition party posed hindrances to a number of executive roles performed by the office of the president such as the nullification of duly enacted measures, apart from those causing major government shutdowns and abusing the filibuster.
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Due to the oppositions from the party controlling the Congress, the ruling party also faces challenges when attempting to conduct its executive functions. Issues such as compromised spending and the expansion of undesirable enactments due to pressures from the opposition often trigger many gridlocks in the functioning of the divided government (Cane 113). Consequently, the office of the president seems to be constrained when the opposing party takes control of the Congress as a result of strained relations which lead to subverted performance and politicization of the functions and decisions made by the executive branch.
How the President Gets Personally Constrained in a Divided Government
Similar to the executive branch in a divided government, the president also faces personal constraints in the course of performing his or her duties. For example, in the case of Obama’s presidency, the former president encountered several instances of opposition when conducting his executive functions. Evidently, this was observed when the Congress blocked various judicial appointments, as well as unprecedentedly refusing to consider Obama’s nominee (Merrick Garland) to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. In addition, Bill Clinton also faced challenges in a divided government in 1998 upon the scandalous revelation of his affair with an intern that fostered his impeachment (Cane 109). The implication is that the president gets personally constrained when operating in his capacity as the overall leader due to such instances and lasting investigations aimed at influencing the public perception of an inefficient government.
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The Limitations of the Executive Power in the American System of Government
The executive arm of the US government experiences various limitations concerning the governance system in place, which encompasses checks and balances that govern the authority. For example, the divided government system has serious impacts on the limitations of the executive power of the office of the president. There are various ways in which the divided system of government limits the executive power.
Under the unified government, the US president is significantly influential in various legislative and executive activities. For example, he or she can remarkably influence a bill to be passed into law. In this case, the US system of governance, especially the divided government, limits the executive power by the constitutional provision that the Congress can override the president’s influence on legislative activities. In fact, this implies that if a president decides to veto a bill that he or she does not like, the Congress can reverse his or her veto by voting at least two-thirds for that particular bill (Cane 115). In this way, the executive power is limited by the US government system.
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Additionally, a US president has the power to appoint high-ranking officials in the government such as the judges of the Supreme Court. Considering that there is potential room for abuse of power in this provision, the constitution covers this loophole by providing a requirement that the presidential choice of such individuals has to be approved by the Senate (Cane 115). Consequently, this limits the presidential power, as his or her choice may fail to get the Senate’s approval, thereby rendering the executive powerless in such instances.
Cane (115) states that upon negotiations aimed at forming treaties with foreign nations, a president ought to seek the approval of the Senate while undertaking such deliberations. Therefore, this limits the power of the executive, as similar moves have to be grounded on the legislative decisions as per the constitutional requirements. In addition, the president may dedicate troops to foreign conflicts for purposes of war with the nation’s foes. However, he or she has to present himself or herself before the Congress for an official declaration (Cane 115). This implies that should the president fail to honor this requirement, the war is considered unofficial. Consequently, the American system of government facilitates the limitations of certain executive powers in its executive branch.
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Moreover, in cases of gross misconduct, the House of Representatives has the mandate to vote for the president’s impeachment. Upon a successful trial by the Senate, the president can be voted out of office. As a result, the American governance system deprives the executive of various powers.
The role of governance in a country is very significant in the well-being of the citizens in that particular nation. In the US governance, both unified and divided government systems can be embraced to facilitate the realization of this objective. However, governance in the executive branch under the unified government differs from that under the divided government. In the former, one political party controls both the executive and legislative functions of the government, whereas in the latter, one party controls the executive branch while the opposition guides the legislative branch. Both government types are similar in decision-making approaches and the general administrative functions of a typical government. However, they demonstrate differences in governance styles whereby the divided one is associated with the separation of independent powers, while the unified one is characterized by presidential influence on various activities as discussed. An evaluation of how the executive office may be constrained has been conducted, including ways in which a president is personally constrained. The executive power of the American system of government faces certain limitations as discussed in the paper.
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