The expansion of presidential power is both a source and symptom of the ongoing decay in America’s democratic processes. Initially, presidential power is a symptom of ongoing decay because the executive has gradually replaced Congress as driving force behind policy creation. The reason the President has taken over many of Congress’s responsibilities is because Congress has been unable to fulfill them. For example, when Congress failed to create more fair labor laws for federal employees, President Obama passed an executive order to make more federal employees eligible for overtime pay. He also took similar actions regarding issues from nutritional labeling to gender equality, and most famously immigration. Congress has become less effective because of an increase in partisanship. Much of this increase in partisanship stems from declining voting rates in congressional and senatorial elections. When only the party hardliners show up to vote, their voices are the only ones hear. In turn, Congress becomes more hardline, resulting in gridlock. Additionally, more and more donors who would have just donated to presidential races have begun donating to congressional elections. As a result, members of Congress are beholden to partisan special interests than their constituencies.
The expansion of presidential power has also become a source of ongoing decay. Presidential power has grown in the face of the post-9/11 “war on terror,” and as Congress has granted the president more and more power to deal with difficult issues, Congress has become less willing to act. Members of Congress view the President as more effective of a legislator than them so they deflect. They let the President deal with challenging or controversial issues. In short, executive action becomes an excuse for congressional inaction. Finally, the celebrity status we have granted to the President as the Presidency has become more powerful has drawn attention away from congressional elections, contributing to the decline in midterm and down-ticket voting.