The recent presidential elections in the United States that pitted Republican Donald Trump versus Democrat Hillary Clinton was a tightly contested one. People all over the globe watched with great interest as they awaited who will be the president of the world’s most powerful country.
Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. President Trump succeeded the first African-American US president, the popular and charismatic President Obama. You may be asking, “Why is the position of the US president so important?” What are the duties and responsibilities of the president? What does the president do?
Requirements to Become US President
The US Constitution under Article II, Section 1 states the following qualifications to become president of the United States.
- Be a natural born US citizen – If a potential candidate was born abroad, he or she could still run for president, provided that both parents are citizens of the United States.
- Be at least 35 years of age – The youngest elected president was John F. Kennedy at the age of 43. However, he was not the youngest person to serve as president of the United States. At age 42, Theodore Roosevelt became president when he took over from President William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901.
- A resident of the United States of America for at least 14 years – The fourteen years doesn’t have to be consecutive.
These are the minimum requirements to become president of the United States. The Twenty-second Amendment also prohibits anyone from being elected president for more than two terms. It bans a person from being elected more than once if that individual served as a president or an acting president for more than two years.
Duties of the US President
The United States Constitution contains the official job description for the president. Under Article II, Sections 2 and 3, the President:
- Is the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, and of each state’s militia when the nation has need of it
- Has the power to obtain opinions and information from heads of the executive departments
- May grant pardons for crimes against the United States
- Makes treaties with other nations, with the approval of the Senate
- Appoints ambassadors, heads of executive departments, and federal judges subject to the approval of the Senate
- Must report to Congress about the state of the union and recommend whatever measures he thinks are necessary
- Call on members of Congress on extraordinary occasions, and adjourn their meetings when members cannot agree on their own when to do this
- Receive foreign ambassadors and other public officials
- Responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws
The powers and duties of the president are executive, administrative, legislative, and juridical in nature. The US Constitution confers upon the president the power of the veto. Any bill passed by Congress must be submitted to the president for approval before it can become law.
As the commander-in-chief, the most crucial of all the presidential powers is the command of the United States Armed Forces. The president is responsible for the direction and disposition of the military. Through the Department of Defense and Department of State, he is also in charge of US foreign policy.
The president has the prerogative to appoint ambassadors, federal officers, and members of the cabinet. He also has the power to nominate federal judges and members of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. However, these nominations require the confirmation of the Senate.
How the US President is Determined
To determine who’s going to be the next President of the United States, an election is held every four years. Election Day is set on the first Tuesday after November 1. The 2016 presidential election was held on November 8, 2016.
The election process kicks off with the primary elections and caucuses, then to nominating conventions, wherein the Democrat and Republican parties select a nominee. Then, the nominee will announce a vice-presidential running mate. The candidates will campaign across the country to deliver their platforms to the voters and participate in debates.
During the general election, American voters head to the polls to cast their vote for President. But the total number or votes, referred to as the popular vote, doesn’t determine the winner. Instead, US presidential elections use the Electoral College. A candidate must receive the majority of electoral votes to win the election. If no candidate receives the majority, it is the House of Representatives that will choose the President while the Senate will choose the Vice President.
Overview of President Donald Trump
Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York City. Before becoming 45th president of the United States, he was a businessman and a television personality. The Republican Trump won the presidential elections on November 8, 2016, after receiving 304 electoral votes against Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 227 (at least 270 electoral votes are needed to win). Although Clinton has 2.9 million more popular votes than Trump, it is not enough to become president as the United States adopts the Electoral College system.
President Trump graduated from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. In 1971, he took over the family’s real estate business, Elizabeth Trump & Son, and later renamed it to The Trump Organization.
His business empire includes hotels, office towers, casinos, and golf courses. From 1996 to 2015, he owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. Donald Trump also hosted a reality television series on NBC, The Apprentice from 2004 to 2015. Forbes listed Trump as the 324th wealthiest individual in the world and 113th richest in the United States for the year 2016, with a net worth of $4.5 billion.
History of US Presidents
- Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II was the first African-American president of the United States, who served for two consecutive terms, from 2009 to 2017. His life is a very colorful one. President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a white mother, Ann Dunham, and a black father, Barack Obama Sr. His parents separated while he was still little and his mother later married his stepdad, an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro. Living in different places and having a multiracial heritage shaped Obama’s view of how the world works. “It is like a mini-United Nations,” is how Obama described his extended family.
In 1989, Barack met Michelle Robinson at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, where he was working as a summer associate and Michelle as an adviser. They started dating, became engaged, and got married three years later. The Obamas have two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha.
After graduating from the Harvard Law School, Barack Obama became a civil rights attorney and also a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, teaching constitutional law from 1992 to 2004.
- John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy served as the 35th US president from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. More popularly known as JFK, he was one charismatic president. He established the Peace Corps to help the underdeveloped nations and pushed for new civil rights laws.
JFK wanted to improve the United States’ relationship with the former Soviet Union. But this became unrealistic when the Russians started sending missiles to Cuba. It brought the two nations to the brink of war, but he was decisive to avoid it at all cost and was able to ease the tension. John F. Kennedy was an inspiring president. Considering that he only served for about two years before being assassinated, he achieved a lot.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
As a Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt won a record four presidential elections. He holds the distinction of being the only US president who served more than two terms. FDR helped the United States overcome very tough times, during an era of economic depression and World War II. His program, known as the New Deal, focused on relief, recovery, and reform, and expanded the federal government’s role in the economy.
With the unexpected Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt obtained the approval of Congress to declare war on Japan. Because Adolf Hitler declared war against the United States in support of Japan, FDR also declared war on Germany a few days later. He worked closely with Winston Churchill of Britain, Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, and Chiang Kai-shek of China in leading the Allies to victory. He was also influential in the creation of the United Nations.
- Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln led the United States through the Civil War, perhaps the greatest constitutional and political crisis the country has ever faced. Lincoln abolished slavery, modernized the economy, strengthened the federal government, and preserved the Union. During that time, some Border States were still undecided on whether to stay in the Union or not. He had the ability to make people understand that the United States was the only real democratic government in the world and that it was his job to keep the Union together.
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and worked for the 13th amendment to ban slavery. Although these did not ensure the end of slavery, it won sympathy for the North throughout the world which culminated in its victory. Unfortunately, on April 14, 1865, he was assassinated. Abraham Lincoln has been consistently ranked as one of the greatest presidents of the United States.
To know more about the history of US presidents and for a complete listing of all the presidents of the United States, click here.