Reading an Election

Presidential Election, 2000

Presidential Election, 2000

Electoral Vote

IS Number ot Rtato doctoral votes 1 elöCjor fron VVs=hi'gton. D.C.. s s ruinée.



50:996,1 61 50,456.169

Why Learn This Skill?

Knowing how to read and understand an election map helps you understand an election clearly. It can also help you understand past elections.

Learning the Skill

To read an election map, follow these steps:

♦ Check the year of the election, most likely noted in the title or the key.

♦ Study the key. See how the different candidates are represented on the map.

♦ Note the number of electoral votes each state has. Remember that each state's total number of senators and representatives determines its electoral votes. Its popular vote count is the number of actual voters.

♦ Study the entire map. Determine voting patterns and trends.

Practicing the Skill

On a separate sheet of paper, answer the following questions about the map on this page.

O How many electoral votes did the state of

California have? The state of Texas? O Which candidate won the election? How many total electoral votes did he win? €> Which candidate won the popular vote?

—Applying the Skill-

In a history book or encyclopedia, find an election map for the election of 1R60. Compare it to the map for the election of 2000. Describe iwo ways in which lhc dcclions were ill ike and one way in which they were different.

Practice key skills wilh GI«ri«of?'s Skillbuilder Interactive Workbook CO-ROM, Level 1


The President's Job


In addition to the powers of the office described In the Constitution, the president fills other roles that are important to the functioning of the United Startes government.

Key Terms executive order, pardon, reprieve, amnesty

Reading Strategy Summarizing Information As you read. In a graphic organizer like the one below, list the powers of the president and give an example of each.

Powers ill President 7

Powers ill President 7

Read to Learn

♦ What are the powers assigned to the president by the Constitution?

« What are the various roles filled by the president?

sp/1mamans in Action

Fewer than 50 men have been able to say what it feels like to be president of the United States. Some former presidents' thoughts are revealing.

"Frankly, being President Is rather an unattractive business unless one relishes the exercise of power. That is a thing which has never greatly appealed to me."

—Warren Harding, 1921

"You know, the President of the United States is not a magician who can wave a wand or sign a paper that will Instantly end a war. cure a recession, or make a bureaucracy disappear."

President Warren

Harding shakes hands with Babe Ruth.

Constitutional Powers

The president is the most powerful public official in the United States. The U.S. Constitution is the basis of the president's power. Article IT says "Executive Power shall be invested in a President.. ."Thus, the president's main job is to execute, or carry out, the laws passed by Congress.

The Constitution also gives the president the power to

• veto, or reject, bills passed in Congress,

• call Congress into special session.

• serve as commander in chief of the armed forces.

■ receive leaders and other officials of foreign countries.

• make treaties with other countries (with Senate approval).

• appoint heads of executive agencies, federal court judges, ambassadors, and other top government officials (also subject to Senate approval),

• pardon or reduce the penalties against people convicted of federal crimes.

Because the Constitution requires the president to give Congress information about the "state of the union,1' the president gives several speeches to Congress each year. The most

I tllniYei-Nc-ttetv Imyyx important is the State of the Union address every year. In this speech the president comes before a gathering of all members of Congress co discuss the most important issues facing the nation and describe the new program of legislation he would like Congress to take up.

Roles of the President

'Hie president fills a number of différent roles. Some of these roles come directly from the Constitution; others are not established in the Constitution but have developed over the years.

Chief Executive

The most important role of the president is carrying out the laws passed by Congress. To do this, the president is in

Powers and Duties of the President

Chief Executive

Chief Executive

Legislative Leader 1

Economic Leader

Evaluatlop Charts

These symbols show the many roles of the president of the United States. Which Is the president's most Important role?

charge of 15 cabinet departments and the approximately 3 million civilians who work for the federal government. The president appoints the heads of the cabinet departments and of other large government agencies., with the Senate's approval.

One of the president's most important tools for carrying out the laws is the power to issue executive orders. An executive order is a rule or command that has the force of law. Only Congress has the authority to make law's. Issuing executive orders, however, is generally considered to fall under the president's constitutional duty to "take care that the laws arc faithfully executed.1"

Many executive orders deal with simple administrative problems. Some, however, have had a great impact. President Harry S Truman, for instance, used an executive order in 1948 to integrate the armed forces. This gave Americans of all races the opportunity to serve in the armed forces equally.

The Constitution gives die president the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. This is an important power because the Supreme Court has the final authority to determine whether a law is acceptable under the Constitution. This power to interpret laws greatly influences life in the United States. Most presidents try to appoint Supreme Court justices who share views similar to their own.

The Constitution also gives the president the power to grant pardons. A pardon is a declaration of forgiveness and freedom from punishment. The president may also issue a reprieve, an order to delay a person's punishment until a higher court can hear the ease.* or grant amnesty, a pardon toward a group of people.

Chief Diplomat

The president directs the foreign policy of the United States, making key decisions about how the United States acts toward other countries in the world.

Commander In Chief

The Constitution makes the president commander in chief of the nation's armed forces. This role gives presidents the ability to back up their foreign policy decisions with force, if necessary. The president is in charge of the army, navy, air force, marines, and coast guard. The top commanders of all these branches of service are subordinate to the president.

Congress and the president share the power co make war. 'JLhe Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, but only the president can order American soldiers into battle. Congress has declared war only five times: the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War IT. Presidents, however, have sent croops into action overseas more than 150 times since 1789. These situations may-threaten the system of checks and balances. For example, although Congress never declared war in Korea or in Vietnam, American troops were involved in conflicts in those countries because they were sent there by U.S. presidents. In 1973, after the Vietnam War, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution. According to this law, the president must notify Congress within 48 hours when troops arc sent into battle. These troops must be brought home after 60 days unless Congress gives ics approval for diem to remain longer or it declares war.

legislative leader

Most of the bills Congress considers cach year come from the executive branch. Only members of Congress have the power to introduce bills for consideration, but in practice Congress expects the executive branch to propose the legislation it would like to see enacted.

liven* president has a legislative program. These are new laws that he wants Congress to pass. 'JLTic president makes spccches co build support for this program and meets with key senators and representatives to try to persuade them to support the proposed laws. In addition, the president appoints several staff members to work closely with members of Congress on new laws. The president may also influence legislation by appealing directly to the American people.

'Ihe president and Congress have often disagreed over what new laws Congress should adopt. One reason for this is that presidents represent the entire United States, while members of Congress represent only the people of their state or district.

The difference in the length of time that presidents and members of Congress can hold office also contributes to this conflict. While presidents can serve no more than two elected terms, members of Congress can be elected over and over again for dccadcs. Therefore, many members of Congress may not want to move as quickly on programs as the president docs.

Head of State

The president is the living symbol of the nation. In this role, chc president aids diplomacy by greeting visiting kings and queens, prime ministers, and other foreign leaders. The president also carries out ceremonial functions for Americans, such as lighting the national Christmas tree and giving medals to the country's heroes.

Economic leader

Every president tries to help the country's economy prosper. Voters expect the president to deal with such problems as unemployment, rising prices, or high taxes.


Political Cartoons

Political Cartoons


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Analyzing Visuals During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt transformed the role of the federal government by spending money on new programs to improve ■the lives of ordinary people. What does the rabbit symbolize in this cartoon? What comment is the cartoonist making about the Impact of government spending?

One key task the president must accomplish each year as economic leader is to plan che federal government's budget.

Party leader

The president is generally regarded as die leader of his or her political party. Members of die president's party work hard to elect die president. JLn turn, the president gives speeches to help fellow party members who are running for office as members of Congress, governors* and mayors. The president also helps the party raise money.

Defining What is a president's legislative program?


Checking for Understanding

1. Key Terms Define the to I lowing Lerms and use Ihem in complete sentences related to the presidency: executive order, pardon, reprieve, amnesty.

Reviewing Main Ideas

2. Identify WhaL dulies does Lhe president carry out as commander in chict?

3. Describe What power does the president have that carries the force of law and assists the president in enforcing laws passed by Congress?

Critical Tlilnklng

4. Drawing Conclusions Which of Lhe roles of lhe presidenl do you think is the most important? Least important.? Why?

5. Organizing Information In a web diagram like Lhe one below, classify the roles filled by the president and give an example of each.

Analyzing Visuals

6. Contrast Review the chart on page 172. How does Lhe role of head of state differ from that of chief diplomat.?

it BE AN ACTIVE QtTtZEUit 7. Use Primary Sources JusL as the president delivers a State of the Union address, most gover nors give a sLale of Lhe sLaLe speech. Read a copy of your governor's last, address and list the roles your governor carries ouL.


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