Revisiting a Lockean Understanding go Federative Power: A Case Study of the George W. Bush Presidency

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Scott Johnson, Political Science; Charles Wright, Philosophy


The Bush administration's use of executive power has brought the notion of the proper role of the executive, particularly in of foreign affairs, to the forefront. Locke's conceptions of federative power and executive prerogative have been very influential. Both are particularly salient in relation to the war powers of the executive. By examining Locke's philosophy, as well as his influence on the Founders and the text of the Constitution, we can better understand modern policy implications of the Bush administration. A qualitative examination of administration and key members' documents and comments reveal a reliance on Locke. This calls for a critical assessment of the administration's interpretation of Locke specifically made as a defense of an expansive view of executive power. The administration's formulation of war powers is decidedly more Lockean. The implicit argument is that the rightful balance of powers is Lockean as opposed to a constitutional separation of war powers.

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