Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Christina Greer
  • Director Brett Underhill
  • Animator Brett Underhill
  • Narrator Christina Greer

Share

Additional Resources for you to Explore
The US Constitution states that the president of the United States has two major powers at his/her disposal – the power to veto bills from Congress and the power to issue Executive orders. The reason the founding fathers did not want to give the president too much authority is because they feared he or she would behave like a king or a dictator. Therefore, they established a system of checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

If you research Executive Orders issued by modern day presidents, for example beginning with President Roosevelt, you will see that presidents have steadily used executive orders to expand their power by establishing agencies. By studying past executive orders, you will also see moments in time when presidents excluded various groups of people from American freedoms. Explore the various executive orders issued by United States presidents beginning with FDR. Are there any executive orders that stand out to you? Do you notice any patterns among the presidents?

Executive orders are extremely important for presidents trying to pass certain policies in an emergency or when they cannot work with Congress. What do you think presidents should do to get Congress to assist them in their agenda? What should be a president’s most important goal be if she or he is issuing an executive order?

Over the past few decades, political participation in US has been on a steady decline. Individuals who are of voting age and eligible to vote (that is, they are citizens who have not been convicted of felonies in particular states) have not even bothered to register to vote. Why do you think so many Americans who can vote for the president choose not to do so? What can local, state level, and national leaders do to convince people to register to vote and then actually turn out to vote on election day?

Since most states require that individuals must register to vote several days or weeks before an election, are the costs of preparing to vote too great? Are voters asked to do too much in the voting process? When the election day arrives, polls are only open for about a maximum of twelve hours. If the US extended voting over several days, do you think political participation would increase or are voters not interested for other reasons?

Imagine you were one of the founding fathers. What would you change about the US powers given to the president? How would you ensure that one person would not abuse his/her power in generations to come?