Each of the three branches of government have very special roles that only they can play. But what is the role of the executive branch?

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: Today I wanna talk with you about what the heck the executive branch does. We’ve talked about the different branches of government. We know that there’s a legislative branch, which is Congress at the national level. We know that there’s a judicial branch, which is the Supreme Court and the other federal courts at the national level. And so the other branch of government in the federal government is the executive branch. And what’s interesting is, even at local and state levels of government, we have this same separation of powers. So you have legislative branches with your state legislature or your city council, right? So the same type of separation can exist in your state. You have a governor who’s in charge of the executive branch in your city or town or county. You’ll probably have a mayor, right? And then all the people that work for him in the office, that’s the executive branch. And so similarly at the national or federal level, we have, the president of the United States and all the many people, the many, many, many, many, many, many, many people, who work for him. And that comprises the executive branch. So I wanna talk about that today, because the executive branch, like the other branches of government, was created in the Constitution. So when the founding fathers got together and they decided that they wanted to create this new government, they were trying to understand the separation of powers and how they would kind of divide the power in the government. And in article two, section one of the Constitution, it says, the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States. And so not only is he in charge of the executive branch, in other words, all the government employees who do the things on a daily basis, they’re the ones implementing the law and enforcing the law. So the president is kind of the boss of all of those people, right? He’s also the commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Brittany, why don’t you touch on that? What does that mean to be the commander-in-chief?

Brittany: Yeah. So, he runs the military, kind of so to speak. So when we go to war, even though Congress has to vote on war, this actually gets very confusing to me. He could, he’s the only one who can declare war. I’m correct on that, right? Connor?

Connor: No, Congress declares war. They have to declare war. And then the president of the United States basically has to faithfully implement what Congress does. And so he would, as commander-in-chief, or perhaps someday she as commander-in-chief, would have to then go basically wage the war. The problem with war has been that many presidents have completely avoided Congress and we no longer really declare war. What Congress did, and this is an interesting question, Brittany, when we talk about the separation between the executive branch and the legislative branch, is that Congress does not like being held accountable. They don’t like voting for controversial things. They would rather let the President just do whatever he wants and then they can blame him, right? If anything goes wrong. And so instead of declaring war as they are supposed to, as you know, Ron Paul used to always say, should happen. And now his son, Rand Paul and Mike Lee and others, instead, they pass what are called authorization to use military force. And they just say, okay, president, we’re letting you have more say in when we go to war and go fight in other countries. And so it empowers the President more and more to make these decisions rather than the people’s representatives in Congress who were supposed to be doing it.

Brittany: Now, we, and correct me if I’m wrong on this, cause it’s been so long, the Congress did vote on Afghanistan because I remember Ron Paul voted against it.

Connor: I believe that’s right. Yep.

Brittany: But in Iraq, there was no vote on.

Connor: That was the authorization to use medical divorce.

Brittany: That’s what I thought.

Connor: That remained in force for like, you know, I think to this day.

Brittany: Was gonna say I had, has it been repealed yet? Right. So one thing I liked about this, you know when Ron Paul ran for president, people would say like, you can’t just pull out of Afghanistan. And he goes, actually, if I win the presidency, you know, I am commander in chief. And we went right in and I can pull everybody, you know, right back out. And I thought that was okay, because nobody, again, the military and a lot, they don’t wanna do that. They don’t want the responsibility. And a lot of people like war, which I think is the latest, title Twins magazine we talk about. So it’s really, so the president has control over that, more control than he should. But Congress, like you said, is the only one who’s allowed to declare war and vote on that. So that is part of the separation of powers that often gets ignored, which is very scary, especially now as we’re, we might be headed towards a war.

Connor: Another thing that the president is in charge of is executive orders. And we’ve talked about this a little bit in the past, especially when it comes to COVID, that, you know, governors do this too, and even, you know, local mayors and so forth. And so an executive order, typically, or rather, is supposed to just be a boss telling his employees what they, should do. So at my organization, Libertas Institute, I might issue an executive order, which sounds silly, but I might just send an email to everyone on my team and say, Hey guys, we’re gonna go here today for these meetings, and then everyone will show up for those meetings at the place. I said since I’m the boss and I can decide those things. So an executive order, in reality, should just be the president of the United States telling all the many people in, in the executive branch, Hey guys, here’s what we’re gonna do, or here’s what’s gonna happen. The problem with executive orders comes when presidents try and just do whatever they want. So the way the founders designed our system of government is that Congress would pass laws, and then the executive branch, the president, would go implement those laws. So Congress could say, Hey, you know, every Friday at 3:00 PM people have to shout really loud and do five jumping jacks. So Congress might pass a law that says something silly like that. And the president would go around with all his employees and they would be responsible for making sure, you know, that everyone at 3:00 PM on Friday is, you know, screaming and doing their jumping. So, that’s kind of the separation between people who pass the laws and then, the president and his executive branch that are supposed to enforce it. But, Brittany, I think, you know, with your current employer, I think you’ve mentioned before, this idea of deference, Chevron deference. Yes. And when the executive, excuse me, when Congress is like, we don’t really wanna decide on specifics and be held accountable for them anymore. So rather than saying Friday at 3:00 PM that you have to shout, we’re just gonna say that you that people we’re gonna pass a law saying people need to get fresh air. And we’ll just leave it very broad. And then the executive branch will let the president and his employees decide. And they might come back and say, okay, well Monday, Wednesday, Fridays from two 15 to 2:30 PM on days that are, you know, above 70 degrees, then you have to like to drive this far away from, like, they would just kind of create all these rules. It’s called rule-making. And they would be the ones to decide, well, Congress said that people need to get more fresh air, so we’re gonna like now create all these rules depending on, and so it shifts things away from Congress. Congress was supposed to debate the actual laws and say what we’re supposed to do. And then the president and his team, the executive branch, they were just supposed to go enforce those laws and make sure that people follow them. But instead, things are totally out the whack. Congress is just passing these broad laws, and then the executive branch becomes kind of these mini dictators where they get to decide, you know, how those laws will actually be enforced, what they actually mean. And so it creates a lot of problems.

Brittany: It does. And one thing to remember too. So when we talk about all these people, and it’s almost like a shadow government that’s like the agencies, you know, we’ve talked a lot about FDA and NSA, who, what are other ones like, anyways, now that I have to think of PPA. That’s right. There are bad ones. So all these agencies, they’re part of the executive. I think sometimes that can be confusing. Cause we think of the executive like, oh, he’s the president, but the executive, he’s the one in charge of selecting all the people who run the different agencies. So they’re one in the same. So, another thing, that the president can do is a pardon, which I think is fun cause we don’t see this a lot, so.

Connor: Well, he pardons turkeys, right?

Brittany: I was gonna say he pardons, turkeys. So the best example I like to think of is Vietnam War. So there was a lot of what they call draft dodgers. And I’m not gonna lie to you, I probably would’ve been one of those if it was the Vietnam War. So a lot of people fled to Canada because they didn’t want to be drafted into a war that they knew they were probably gonna die in. But it wasn’t a felony. I don’t think it was a felony. Maybe it was, it came with huge fines. It was not, it was very much illegal. So years after, do you remember which president? I wanna say Jimmy Carter, but I don’t remember if correct.

Connor: I don’t remember.

Brittany: So there’s a homework assignment for you. So one of the presidents that came decades after, the Vietnam War ended up pardoning all the draft dodgers, because after we figured out what a mess the Vietnam War was the president was able to say, you know what, I’m gonna pardon you. Which means you no longer are a criminal, you can come back. And that has happened in other instances too, but I always think of that one. Cause I think that is like one of the best pardons. You can have it because I don’t like Warren, I don’t like the draft. But yes, as Connor said, every Thanksgiving it’s become this ceremony where the president pardons a Turkey, and one less Turkey is killed for Thanksgiving.

Connor: Well, speaking of the kind of ceremony, we talked previously on a past episode about propaganda, and I think that’s the case with the state of the unit.

Brittany: Oh, dear. Yes.

Connor: For like decades, like Thomas Jefferson on down, I think even beyond that, like the state of the union, it would simply be a letter written by the president to be read by someone else, or, you know, just to be sent to people in Congress, basically a report card, Hey, here’s how we think things are going and here, you know, and, a little bit of accountability you might say, where the president would just kind of give a report to Congress. There was no fanfare, there was no, you know, now the state of the Union is this big spectacle. It’s a big, you know, it’s all over TV and reporters are talking about it, and you know, celebrities are talking about it. And everyone’s, and

Brittany: And Brittany got stuck in traffic trying to get around DC.

Connor: See? Horrible, right? And people have turned it into this big stunt, this big show that people put on to kind of say like, oh, we’re gonna listen to the president and all the senators and representatives cramming. And inevitably now it’s, there’s a shouting match and you know, someone will stand up and boo. Or when Donald Trump was president, Nancy Pelosi like ripped up his remarks, you know.

Brittany: Oh, I forgot about that.

Connor: And this time with Biden, did you see she did that weird, like fist-rubbing thing? Did you see this?

Brittany: I avoided all footage, oh my god. Of his State of the Union.

Connor: It’s now a meme that I see on Twitter that people post. It’s bizarre. And so, like, it’s this big circus, and all it is it’s like an hour and a half or however long it is of a speech for the president to just basically spout propaganda. I mean, so many lies, no matter which party you’re in. It’s just designed to like, say, oh, we’re doing great. We’re gonna do all these things and look how amazing we are. You know? And it’s just deeply problematic. I mean, I think most recently where President Biden was talking about, you know, energy independence and clean, or not independence, rather clean energy, and he was praising Ford and I think, GM, these automakers in America, they’re investing, you know, 5 billion in clean, air vehicles, electric vehicles, and battery design. And he’s praising these two companies that are union companies. He likes unions. We’ve talked before about that. Yep. And so here he is this Democrat praising these union companies for their investments in electric vehicles for clean air purposes. And then what happened after the State of the Union or during it, even Elon Musk tweeted, and he’s like, Tesla has invested like 10 times more than these companies combined. And the president did not mention Tesla, because Tesla’s not a union company. It’s total propaganda. He’s not the president who was not praising, you know, things neutrally. He was not just saying, here’s the facts. And oh, by the way, Tesla’s leading the nation on, you know, electric vehicle production. No, it was a total propaganda fest designed to kind of give promotion free promotion to these union companies where the leaders donate a lot to Biden’s, you know, campaign. And so it, the State of the Union is this kind of, yeah, it’s this propaganda fest for the fest.

Brittany: Yeah, I was gonna say, what did you call it? Propaganda fest, I think is the perfect term for it.

Connor: Yeah. All right. What else does the president do, Brittany?

Brittany: Well, one thing that I think is important right now is Supreme Court justices. So he nominates them. Congress is the one who votes on it, but that’s happening right now. And I don’t remember her name. I should know because I work in the legal field. But, so the President is in charge of nominating the Supreme Court justice when there is a vacancy, meaning when there’s a new, like a post when somebody retires or someone dies and they have to replace them. And this is actually usually a very controversial thing because if a president is a Democrat, they’re probably going to pick a more democratic or a democratic, judge. If somebody is a, you know, Republican, they’re gonna pick somebody that’s more conservative as a judge. So that gets really heated. It becomes a very political issue, even though the court is actually not supposed to be political. The courts or the Supreme Court especially is supposed to be the body, and we’ll talk about the judicial branch in another episode, but that is responsible for interpreting the Constitution. They’re not allowed to just say, Nope, we like that. So that’s something to keep your eye out on now because we do have a nomination going on. If you can read between all the war headlines, you’ll see those.

Connor: There’s a lot of stuff the president can do, and sadly, way more than ever, because the executive branch, as I mentioned earlier, has just been growing and growing and growing. And so it’s a big problem because when the people who are in charge of enforcing the law get to determine what the law actually says and what the law requires of you, I think that’s a big problem. I’ll share a brief example as we wrap up. we got, a law passed in our state, Brittany, I think you wrote about it for free a few years ago about the little kids’ Lemonade stands.

Brittany: Yes, they did.

Connor: Having to pay taxes or whatever. Well, apparently, one aspect of the law that we didn’t go in and kind of clamp down on is, kind of food handling. So now for our kids’ markets, we’ve got the health department coming after us and saying that we have to put all these signs up and we have to have hand washing stations. If anyone wants to even touch any, like, if someone wants to pour you a cup of fruit, juice they made at home, they have to have this whole hand washing station at their booth, and like all these things. And I said, can you point to me where in the law requires these things? And they’re like, oh, it’s in our rule. I said I don’t care about your rule. Tell me where in the law, because I just pulled up the law. And it says nothing about us having to put these signs up or whatever, right? It’s just, you know, they point to these laws that say, oh, the health department has this broad discretion to enforce public health and do what is necessary. And so they have these broad powers and they suddenly become the deciders, the little dictators, and they get to decide whatever they want. I think that is so problematic. And so here we are again, we have to go pass another law to say, Hey, leave these kids alone. And you know, just if they wanna sell a homemade cinnamon roll, they don’t have to go through all these hoops and crazy stuff. But that shows you the dangers of the executive branches when the people who are enforcing the law get to kind of interpret it how they want and then force you to comply with it. That’s a problem. The founding fathers envisioned an executive branch that was small, that was limited, right? They wanted Congress to be the most powerful branch of government, the people’s representatives where you could kind of vote and debate on things. And man, in our today’s system broken system of government today, things are not working at all. Like the founder’s design, and especially not the executive branch where things have grown substantially. It is not a small, weak branch of government. It is a very robust, strong branch of government. So it’s important for us, I think, to learn about it because if we want to do anything about it, if we want to understand what happened, we gotta learn history. We need to read the Constitution and what it says about the executive branch. We need to go look up some of these stories and see how the executive branch has grown over time. So this is just the beginning. As Brittany said earlier, you guys have a little bit of homework to do, some resources that you can go check out, head to Tuttletwins.com/podcast. As always, make sure you’re subscribed to the show. So now we’ve talked about the different branches of government. You guys understand a little bit more, but in episodes to come, we’re gonna be getting even more into detail. Make sure you’re subscribed, Brittany Thanks as always. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.