by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
Regardless of who holds the office, America’s Imperial Project and its Imperial Presidency are due for a grand reckoning.
While elections and party politics generate the emotions and headlines, the truly consequential change in American governance has been the ascendancy of the Imperial Presidency over the past 75 years, since the end of World War II.
As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the Constitution grants the President extraordinary but temporary powers in wartime. With the power to declare war granted solely to Congress, this dangerous (in the Founders’ view) expansion of Executive power was tolerated because it was temporary and necessary in the fast-moving emergency of war.
Congress has declared war a total of five times, while U.S. armed forces have been deployed in conflicts 300 times. So in 295 conflicts out of 300, the president had sole discretion. Various stamps of Congressional approval of these wartime powers have been given over the decades, but these are more for show than actual limits on presidential powers.