It’s Presidents Day, so we asked: Is the president of the United States still the most powerful person on earth?

The White House

The president of the United States is often considered the most powerful person on earth. The U.S. is a superpower, with a mighty military, nuclear weapons, the largest economy in the world and influence across the globe.

Forty-five men have held the office, from George Washington, who took office in 1789, to Joe Biden, who was elected in 2020 and sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021.  

On Monday, Feb. 20, the U.S. will celebrate Presidents Day. The federal holiday is marked on the third Monday in February. 

Originally, the holiday was Washington’s Birthday, which was Feb. 22. Washington’s Birthday was first observed in 1885. Additionally, from the viewpoint of some Americans, the holiday was also a commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday; he was born on Feb. 12 and served as the 16th president of the United States. In 1971, the holiday became Presidents Day, honoring all presidents.

Is the president of the U.S. the most powerful person on the globe? Is it true what people say? 

Northeastern Global News asked students on the Boston campus.

Anthony Casabianca Jr., 18

A first-year student from New York majoring in business administration, Casabianca believes the U.S. president does have that global strength.

“I feel the U.S. still has a lot of power and we’re such a powerful nation,” Casabianca says.

“Despite a lot of internal turmoil, I believe internationally the U.S. does have the power to influence decisions,” Casabianca says. “I think every president has ups and downs. I strongly believe that even a very small action of a president can create a different and big perception of us in the world.”

Akshay Karaoke, 26

A first-year graduate student from India majoring in engineering management, Karaoke says the U.S. has a lot of influence in international relations.

“The policies that a president is dictating or foreign relations that he has, makes a president powerful in the world,” he says.

Karaoke adds, “I believe the U.S. creates stable situations regarding the foreign policy of other countries in the world.” 

Maurin Stubbs, 22

A fifth-year student from Germany majoring in English and design, Stubbs says the president is powerful but there is a lot of political division in the country.  

“I think sometimes it can be viewed that the U.S. has the most powerful president in the world and it is because the U.S. holds a lot of political sway, but not always for the right reasons,” Stubs says.

“The United States tries to act like a united front when there are so many internal divisions and so many things that the public doesn’t know about. I think there are a lot of divides in the U.S. and our political structure kind of exacerbates it.” 

Tarun Reddy, 25

A first-year graduate student in artificial intelligence from India, Reddy says the strength of the office can vary depending on the president. 

“The U.S. is generally regarded as a very powerful country. But I’ve had mixed reactions. Some people say Biden is not as strong as a president like Donald Trump or Barack Obama,” Reddy says.

“I think when the president thinks honestly about the people, people will have a lot of positive impressions of the president.” 

I think when the president thinks honestly about the people, people will have a lot of positive impressions of the president.

Tarun Reddy
first-year graduate student in artificial intelligence from India

Cassidy Rotigliano, 22

An undergraduate student from Massachusetts majoring in English, Rotigliano says the office may have lost some of its strength.

“It still feels like the U.S. president is the most powerful person in the world, but I don’t know if that actually really holds up,” Rotigliano says. “There are a lot of things kind of chipping away at the power and making it less stable.”

Rotigliano says his opinion may be skewed because he’s “lived here forever and I don’t really know because I only know other places from the filter of coming through the U.S.”

“I would call it propaganda and I’ve listed this idea that this is the most powerful place.”

Saoirse McNally, 23

A fifth-year student from Massachusetts majoring in human services, McNally says the office itself has a lot of power.

“I think it depends on the context historically speaking, we have set ourselves up to have a very powerful president, but I don’t think the notion that it was back then I don’t think it’s necessary to the same extent now.”

“I like a president who does a lot of philanthropic work, pro-social programs, welfare reform, and is also politically and economically stable, which cannot be found in one person in American history.”

 Sophia Mantell, 22

A graduate student from Oregon majoring in civil engineering, Mantell says the so-called power of the presidency should not be focused on the military.

“We have more global influence than we have any right to ask,” Mantell says. “I think that 40% of our global military can be an example of a large influence on us in the world. I don’t like to necessarily equate that with power.”

“I would love to request the presidents to invest more in public transit, stop building highways and reallocate money from a military budget into various places that need it more.”

Kimberly Stochaj, 20

A second-year student from Massachusetts majoring in industrial engineering, Stochaj says presidents should not be celebrities.

“There are definitely pros and cons to all of them,” she says. “And I don’t want to think that we should idolize political figures because they’re there to do their job and to make the country better. They’re not there to be everybody’s favorite celebrity or something.”

“I believe currently everything has become like a bipartisan sports game.”

She added, “I think honestly, politicians are far too focused on pleasing their party and getting a win for their party.”

I think, honestly, politicians are far too focused on pleasing their party and getting a win for their party.

Kimberly Stochaj
Second-year student from Massachusetts majoring in industrial engineering

Sarah Shiferaw, 21 

A fourth-year student from New Jersey majoring in cell and molecular biology, Shiferaw says the U.S. is strong but there are other powerful nations.

“I think times are changing. I feel there are more powerful countries that are coming up, but I guess I have a little bit of nationalism in the sense that I like to think that our country is doing best.”

“I believe we’re the best in terms of military, economic and international humanitarian things.”