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How has technology impacted the power and reach of presidents?

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The presidency has greatly evolved since the days of George Washington. Washington's government was relatively small in size and power. In 2020, the power of the American presidency is enormous, and that power is buttressed by technology. Technology serves as a tool that helps the president govern a huge country,...

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The presidency has greatly evolved since the days of George Washington. Washington's government was relatively small in size and power. In 2020, the power of the American presidency is enormous, and that power is buttressed by technology. Technology serves as a tool that helps the president govern a huge country, an immense military, and a mammoth economy.

The most impressive and deadly technology available to the modern presidency is in the military sphere. World War II led America to start the Manhattan Project, and its success gave the president nuclear weapons. President Harry S. Truman decided to use them to end WWII. As a result, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by nuclear weapons. Today, the president's power to deploy nuclear weapons remains his greatest and most terrifying capability. Presidential military power has also been enhanced by the more recent development of drones. President Donald Trump used a drone to assassinate an Iranian military leader in January 2020.

Air travel has also increased presidential power. Presidents rarely traveled outside the US before the airplane. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to possess an official plane. Today, Air Force One frequently carries the president abroad, and that ability boosts his influence at home and abroad.

Radio and television changed the modern presidency. FDR skillfully used the radio to communicate with an anxious public during the Great Depression. President John F. Kennedy's campaign for the White House was aided by his telegenic appearance on TV during presidential debates.

And finally, Trump uses Twitter to communicate with the public. Some have criticized him for doing so, but he thinks it is important and useful.

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