A Grammar of American Politics: The National Government

By Wilfred E. Binkley; Malcolm C. Moos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
THE'ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL AFFAIRS

IN OUR analysis of the texture of American government we have already seen that the term "executive" embraces a wide assortment of functions. Among these functions perhaps none so frequently touches the daily life of the citizens as that of administration. The administrative branch must apply the policies predetermined by Congress and enforce the court orders from the Federal judiciary. From the very size of the administrative branch also we obtain some conception of its importance as one of the component parts of government. In the national legislature there are but 531 law-makers aided by a staff of a few thousand secretaries, clerks, and research assistants. Serving our Federal courts are about 300 judges assisted by a much smaller force of employees than that which aids Congress. The total for the administrative branch, however, hovers around 2,000,000 employees and it is largely their work that carries government into effect.

The propelling drive in the administration of national affairs is provided by the president. By constitutional authority and in practice the chief executive heads the administrative branch. He is, in a word, the "boss" of this vast sprawling division of the Federal government whose activities have such a vital bearing on the everyday life of our community.


ESTABLISHING A STRONG EXECUTIVE

Although there was an ingrained distrust of executive power at the time the Constitution was drafted, fortunately some of this prejudice was diluted by the ideas and forceful character of Alexander Hamilton. One of the principal contributions of the Founding Fathers, therefore, was the establishment of a potent chief executive.


Hamilton's Views on Administration

A paramount need of government as envisaged by Alexander Hamilton was an "energetic Executive" endowed with broad powers to direct the

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