Structure of USA's government

This is a central and fundamental question: has the structure of USA changed?

I feel and think that it has.

I do not know.

Have executive orders, and not just with the Democrats, superseded the three branches of government and the constitution?

For decades we go to war without Congress actually declaring war.

The courts seem to rewrite law. (SEEM)

Et cetera…

So, if there are people that could enlighten me–please do so.


When did we go to war without Congress’s approval?

You are correct. The US Constitution is all about limited government. Government steadily gets bigger, more corrupt, and more hostile to Christianity.

This year I’m studying Economics and American Government…the difference between the original idea of America that Our Founding Fathers created, and what it is today is scarily staggering…

Tell me more.

If you want to be technical about it, though Congress has given tacit approval by appropriating funds and the like, there hasn’t been an actual declaration of war in any armed conflict post-WWII. All armed conflicts since have either been enforcements of UN Security Council decisions (Korea, first Gulf War, the Balkans, Somalia, Libya) or the US President insisting on sending forces to fight a perceived threat without an actual declaration of war (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq).

Only the Senate can declare war (by a 2/3 majority), and only the Senate can ratify a treaty (again, by a 2/3 majority). The President, though, is the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, and as such, can send the military on any mission that he (okay, so technically, the President can be a woman, but no woman from a major party has ever even won her party’s nomination for President, and the only two women to win their party’s nomination for VP were on losing tickets) wishes. Congress can either approve funds for the mission or withhold funds for the mission; however, rarely do they withhold funds for military missions so as to not look like they don’t support the safety of the men and women in uniform.

the problem isn’t the constitution but how it is being currently practiced by the powers that be. We have a president that just does what he wants, we have a powerless congress not willing to hold him responsible and then we have a court that legislates from the bench. If congress would be some fire in their belly and reclaim and pursue an out of control president, we might get somewhere.

People seem to get frustrated because they expect government to remain static, but that’s not the nature of the game. Certain ambitious people, both in politics and business, will always seek to gain an advantage for those people and ideas they represent. They will seek out every loophole, and try to change what is not currently allowed by law, to advance their cause. That is why government of the people requires diligence. So while the three branches of U.S. government have not officially changed as far as I can tell, the intended checks and balances are constantly being challenged and manipulated. That’s human nature, I suppose.

We had a fight over the role of central government some years ago called the Civil War, and even though the Union won, people are still fighting. I’m not saying that is necessarily good or bad - people will and should stand up for their beliefs. If a strong central government is not advancing the well-being of as many people as possible, it should change. The amazing thing about the structure of our government is that we have not had more civil wars, what with everyone trying to promote their own agenda.

Yes and no. The executive branch has grown in relative strength, and both Republican and Democratic presidents have pushed this forward. George W. Bush’s reliance on “unitary executive theory” to issue signing statements on the interpretation of the law relative to the constitution and his extension of war powers to non-state conflicts was a recent example. However, to me, the Lincoln (Republican) and Wilson (Democratic) administrations represent the largest and most aggressive ones on civilians in the U.S. due to the wars occurring during them.

Demographically, the percentage of our population born outside the U.S. is increasing from what it was in the mid-20th century, although it still has not reached the percentage found in the population prior to the 20th century:

We’re also becoming more guided by the unguided market norms of capitalism than by traditional cultural norms. This has created better civil rights for minorities, but also has reduced the strength of traditional norms to influence economic activity.

It seems to me that more national politicians want to become president, so fewer of them say anything that could be controversial.

Actually, Article I Section 8 simply states that Congress (not just the Senate) has the power to declare war. And that’s all it says. Nothing else is specified. So there is no requirement for a 2/3 vote in either chamber of Congress.

This is said in the second paragraph:
“World War II was the last war the United States fought with a formal declaration of war. The wars fought since have had congressional approval, both in the sense that resolutions were passed and that Congress appropriated funds, but the Constitution is explicit in requiring a formal declaration. It does so for two reasons, I think.”

I mean nothing by the bold letters; it is easier for me to read.
I do not know who is accurate!

What about the wars fought before then?

Discounting all conflicts with the Native Americans, the very first war we fought as a nation was an undeclared war with France from 1798-1800. Congress voted to authorize the war, but never formally declared war. The second war we fought was in 1801 against the Barbary States in North Africa and also had Congressional authorization, but was not a declared war. Our first declared war was the War of 1812. And less than six months after the end of the War of 1812, Congress authorized a second war with the Barbary States without formally declaring war.

Three of the first four wars we fought (again, discounting all conflicts with the Native Americans) were undeclared.

The United States has only ever formally declared war five times: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s an indisputable fact that every other war in which we’ve participated has been undeclared. Most of them have had Congressional approval, but not all. None of our wars with the Native Americans had a formal declaration of war or was even authorized by Congress. The Philippine-American War in 1899 was also never authorized by Congress. Yet those wars happened anyway, by executive order of the president well before World War II.

Our country going to war without a formal declaration is hardly some new thing. Although the president usually seeks Congressional approval of some sort when he believes the use of force is in the best interest of the country (or at least his interpretation of the best interest of the country), he doesn’t always do so. Including our first president George Washington, who purely on executive order, without any Congressional authorization, put troops in the field against the Shawnee, Lenape, and other tribes in the Northwest Territory to enforce our claim on the land.

The structure of the US government hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s changed is the people as a whole. Specifically, the kind of things the public at large is willing to overlook from our elected officials. In the past, hardly anyone seemed to care if we were fighting Native Americans. Today, hardly anyone seems to care if the judiciary runs wild over existing laws and state constitutional amendments to push legal gay marriage. If it supports the cause they support, most people are content to let the government do whatever it wants regardless of how legal it is.

That’s because you can only formally declare war on a nation. In Korea, the Gulf War, Somalia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, etc., we weren’t fighting nations but groups of people. The fact of the matter is Congress approved of these military operations and appropriated funds for them. I don’t see how that is different then “formally” declaring war.

I am the OP!

I do not know the answers; I asked a question or two.



My personal favorite, Teddy, also advanced the power of the Presidency to unprecedented levels during his terms. It is often in times of great war or great scandal that the role of the President must be surged onward, most recently as seen with W following the 9/11 attacks and Obama with the Great Recession. Whether you agree or disagree with those actions, they continue to push the powers of the Executive Office, and often times, they are necessary at the time. Unfortunately, when they are no longer necessary, no President wants to cede the power given in precedence…

Well, the bible tells us at some point, practicing christianity will be very dangerous to ones health, and close to being illegal, its already happening in other countries, so eventually this will happen in the US, this is the period that God will impose to weed out the true believers from the fence sitters I think.

I have often pondered: are the leaders of the two parties playing good cop and bad cop with us?

When I watched the PBS D-Day documentary, I am ashamed to tell the world, but I had never thought about the logistics of it. I know (knew) many WWII veterans–from family to neighbors, to priests, to teachers…

If we tackled the problems of America that way–they would disappear. I know that there are many people that are poor or uneducated that are responsible for their condition. That is not the point.

If a lowly smuck like me can see that–the Ivy League and multimillionaires and even a few of the billionaires on Capital Hill can easily see it. Not to mention the Gates and the others.

Sorry for crying.

So, here is the question: are they in Cahoots, that is, the leaders of the parties?

As a US citizen who was raised on the mother’ milk that the constitution if the foundation of our great country, it saddens me to see all of the constitutional abuses in our government.

But as someone who has studied our countries history and has read our constitution with a critical eye I see the alternative of following the constitution exactly as being much worse.

For all of its strengths our Constitution (created by human hands) is marked by the flaws of the humans who created it. It is only through luck, by great men at critical times, and by extra-constitutional machinations has our country survived.

A post above says rightly, that the extra-constitutional powers were enacted because of crises. What that posts does not mention is that many of those failures were due to flaws in our constitution. Consider 3 of them: War of 1812, Civil War, Great Depression.

The causes and the problems of the war of 1812 are complex and I am not an expert. But I think it is fairly safe to say that a good portion of the blame is due to Jefferson and Madison’s view of the constitution that did not allow the federal government to manage money (in particular the National Bank) and to support a reasonable sized national army. Jefferson slashed the US navy to 2 ships when a larger sized Navy MAY have been a deterrent to the British pressing our ships into service. Then when the US declared war thinking that they could annex Canada with no problem they got their butts handed to them by the British. (Sometimes I wonder if the British did not stop the war because otherwise they would have to govern this lunatic asylum.) Among the many reasons that we lost this war is that we couldn’t fund it because of a lack of a national bank and we depended on the use of militias instead of a national army and the new england states refused to play along.

The Civil War, too, was a failure of the Constitution. It is no accident that the all time worst Presidents in the US history happen just before the Civil War. The constitution with its divided government was so paralyzed that it allowed the resentment between the two sides to simmer for so long without a governmental way to fix it. War was the only way to fix it. (It is not an accident that Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg address does not reckon the beginning of the US with the constitution but with the Declaration of Independence-- the Constitution has never been ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, but rather written by the elite for the elite.)

A third crisis created by the Constitution was the Great Depression because of its failure to anticipate rich elites destroying a country with their incompetence and because it did not anticipate either the need of a government to regulate an economy or the abuse of individual rights of some of its citizens to curtail the freedoms of others of its citizens.

In each of these crises (and others not mentioned here) the federal government responded both through constitutional amendments (which is good) and through extra-constitutional measures which was bad but unfortunately necessary.

Such is the messiness of all governments.


Great points, thanks!

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