Ben Higgins – The Mahogany Workplace – Capitol
World Views

What Power Does President Trump Have?

Like most of the U.S., I was pretty enthralled with last year’s elections. Admittedly, I followed along a little closer than I normally do as I considered running for the Colorado House of Representatives.

Politics still come up a lot around my dinner table and with my buddies. I’m sure you also have friends and family who are either upset about Donald Trump’s election or happy with the results.

Well, I want to arm you with some icy cold water to throw on your loved ones.

Fortunately, our Constitution dictates checks and balances into our system of government (shout out to James Madison and the rest of the Founding Fathers).

You may think, “Checks and Balances sounds like it’s from my high school government class.” Great, you’re probably far ahead of most of our fellow Americans. As James Madison and our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they had King George III of England in mind. After living under a king for most of their lives, the writers of our Constitution wanted to prevent one man — they probably did not foresee a female president although I’m optimistic it will happen in our lifetime — from holding all the cards and making all the decisions.

To prevent a tyrant from ruining the lives of Americans, they gave the power to three branches of government. Hence, our country has the Executive (President), Legislative (House of Representatives and Senate), and Judiciary (Supreme Court) branches. Now, some of you may want to comment on this blog, “Yeah, Ben, but the Republicans have the Presidency, the House, and the Senate.” To that, I cannot disagree, but to get anything done in the U.S. Senate, a party needs 60 votes because of something called “cloture.” (Read about what cloture is here.)

Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate in June 2017. Therefore, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must compromise with the Democrats to get anything done.

To illustrate my point: We can look at a recent example of when a party held the House, close to 60 votes in the Senate, and the Presidency. Hint: “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus came out that year. Our President was Barack Obama and he was able to pass Obamacare, a fair pay act, and TARP II in those first two years, when the Democrats had the Presidency, the House, and almost a super-majority in the Senate. However, in 2010, the Republicans took back the House and took away the Democrats’ vast majority in the Senate. Since that happened, the President’s major achievement has been killing Osama bin Laden in 2011.

For President Trump to accomplish some of the things he campaigned, he will have to do a whole lot of compromising with moderate Democrats (not to mention moderate Republicans). When your friends and family are flipping out one way or another about President Trump, tell them to chill out; those guys planned for moments like these 229 years ago.

By Jordan Fuller with Ben Higgins

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