Presidential System of Government: Roles of the President

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  • 0:50 Presidential Roles
  • 1:45 Chief of State & Chief…
  • 3:28 Chief of Party & Chief…
  • 4:40 Commander in Chief /…
  • 5:29 Chief Executive
  • 5:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jason Nowaczyk

Jason has a masters of education in educational psychology and a BA in history and a BA in philosophy. He's taught high school and middle school

The following lesson discusses the seven roles that the President of the United States has. A short quiz will follow the lesson to check for your understanding.

The Presidential System of Government

Many children grow up thinking how cool it would be to one day become the President of the United States of America. It's understandable because in the United States, it is a position that is given an enormous amount of prestige and actual power. The president is the focal point of our federal government so much so that it is called the presidential system, where the head of the government leads an executive branch that is separate from a legislative branch, and who also serves as the head of state.

This is quite different than a parliamentary system of government, where the parliament or a legislative body is elected by the people, and then the parliament names their head of government, or prime minister. The President of the United States is elected by the American people and is accountable directly to them, whereas a prime minister is held more accountable to the parliament that appointed him.

Presidential Roles

Perhaps many more children would consider changing their minds in wanting to become president if they knew just how many duties one has to fulfill while in that position. Being president is one of the most stressful and time-consuming jobs in all of politics. This is because the president has many job duties he must fulfill.

Just as the chief of an Indian tribe wears an elaborate headdress to let others know he is in charge, the president also wears many hats, in a figurative sense, to let others know he is in charge. In fact, there are roughly seven main roles, or 'hats that a president must wear,' during his tenure. The roles that a president fulfills are:

  1. Chief of state
  2. Chief policy maker
  3. Chief of party
  4. Chief guardian of the economy
  5. Commander-in-chief
  6. Chief diplomat
  7. Chief executive

Role: Chief of State

Every nation has at least one person who is the ceremonial head of state. In most democratic governments, this role is given to someone other than the chief executive. For example, in Britain, the head of state is the Queen. However, in the United States, our president serves as chief of state and as such, he engages in activities that are inspiring to the American people.

As the American chief of state, the president is a living symbol of the nation. Some of the activities that the president might engage in as head of state include dedicating parks and libraries, decorating war heroes, receiving heads of state at the White House, going on official state visits to other countries, and congratulating astronauts' missions and championship sports teams.

Role: Chief Policy Maker

Constitutionally, only Congress has the actual power to make laws, but the Constitution gives the president power to influence Congress in its lawmaking as chief policy maker. Presidents may urge Congress to pass new laws or veto bills that they do not favor. One of the most direct ways that the president tries to notify Congress of desirable legislation is through the president's annual State of the Union message in which the president proposes a legislative program for the upcoming year.

Presidents also affect the passage of laws in two additional ways by using their veto power, which is the power to deny approval for proposed laws, and by the creation of executive orders, which are rules or orders issued by the president to a part of the executive branch and which have the force of law.

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