Being President

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Play by the Rulebook

So, how does the President know what his job is? It starts with the Constitution, of course! The Constitution, the government's official rulebook, gives power to the office of the President and lays out specific responsibilities. It even includes the oath that the President must say before taking office!

Read about the job of President in Article II of the Constitution.

Setting the Agenda

The President is the country’s top leader, and often has goals for what we should achieve as a nation. But how does the President explain his or her vision to the other leaders and to the people?

One thing the Constitution requires is that the President gives a speech to a joint session of Congress (both the House and the Senate together). In this speech, given once a year, the President does two things:   tells everyone how things are going and lays out goals for the coming year. This speech is called the State of the Union address.

Click on the link below to read more about the State of the Union address.

Serious Business

Click on the link to see a slideshow of the President in some of his daily tasks. Looks fun, right?  But being President of the United States is about much more than the fun stuff. It's a tough job with important responsibilities that impact millions of people's lives. The President has to run the government, lead the military as Commander-in-Chief, and be the face of America in the country's interactions with the rest of the world. Even while traveling on Air Force One the President is still hard at work!

 

Describe two things you see the President doing in the slideshow, and explain how they relate to his job as President.

Not Alone

Running the country is a huge job. Even if the President never slept, he couldn't run the country alone. That is why the Constitution also created a group of advisors to the President that give him advice and help run the government. Together, they are called the President's Cabinet. The Cabinet members are also leaders of executive branch agencies that carry out the laws.  To the right, you see President Obama meeting with his Cabinet in April 2009.

Click on the link to learn more about Cabinet members and how they get their jobs. SCROLL DOWN to see a list of the fifteen executive agencies that together make the Cabinet.

Carrying Out Laws

Congress passes the laws. It's the executive branch departments that carry out these laws on a day-to-day basis.  Your Senator does not deliver the mail; the United States Postal Service does! Your House member does not arrest someone for breaking a federal law; an FBI agent working for the Department of Justice does! Congress does not screen your luggage at the airport; the Department of Homeland Security does! All of the people who carry out these laws are part of the Executive branch. Remember, according to the Constitution, it’s the President’s job to see that laws get followed!

Click on the link and SCROLL DOWN to the list of executive branch departments, which begins with the Department of State. Click on one that looks interesting to you. Look over the webpage to see what issues the department is working on!

Pets allowed

So, still interested in being President? One additional perk of the job is that the White House allows pets! Here you see President Ford with his dog, Liberty, in the Oval Office (1974).

Click on the link to see what other animals recent presidents have had at the White House!