A Special Office

The presidency stands apart for many reasons. The presidency and the vice presidency are the only nationally elected offices, which means that the president enjoys a mandate unlike any other in American politics. It's also the only term-limited position among the three branches of government. And the president serves as both chief executive and head of state.

But what makes the presidency truly special — what sets it apart from the other institutions of American government — is that the office is greater than the sum of its constitutional parts. The person who occupies the White House is more than just the commander in chief, chief executive, chief legislator, chief diplomat, and head of state. The president represents America abroad, and the aspirations of Americans at home. World economic markets react to his actions and utterances. He is the leader of the free world and commander of the lone superpower. The president speaks to the people and embodies our values. He alone can comfort a nation in mourning, lead us during times of crisis, and rally us to war and peace. And only the president can command the nation's attention with a single speech or comment.

Americans have always enjoyed a special relationship with our presidents. Every four years, we choose between two people to occupy the highest office in the land. We ask a lot of them as candidates, and demand even more of them as presidents. We place in them our trust, and hope that it is rewarded. Whether we voted for the president or not, we expect him to be the president of all the people.

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