The American Democracy, 10th Edition (Patterson)

Chapter 12: The Presidency: Leading the Nation

Chapter Overview

A historical perspective of the evolution of the presidency is offered in this chapter, as well as an explanation of the steady increase in its power, surpassing the original intent of the framers of the U.S. Constitution. The author also examines the presidential selection process and the staffing of the modern presidency, both of which contribute to the president’s prominence in the American political system. The various broad factors that can affect the efficacy of presidential leadership are also explored, including the force of circumstance, relationship with Congress, and the level of support of the public. The main points in this chapter are as follows:
  • Over time, the presidency has become a powerful office. This development owes largely to the legacy of strong presidents and to domestic and international developments that have increased the need for executive leadership.

  • The modern presidential campaign is a marathon affair in which self-selected candidates seek a strong start in the nominating contests and a well-run media campaign in the general election.

  • The president could not control the executive branch without a large number of presidential appointees—advisors, experts, and skilled managers—but the sheer number of these appointees is itself a challenge to presidential control.

  • The president’s election by national vote and position as sole chief executive make the presidency the focal point of national politics. Nevertheless, whether presidents are able to accomplish their goals depends on their personal capacity for leadership, national and international conditions, the stage of their presidency, the partisan composition of Congress, and whether the issue is foreign or domestic.

Patterson Tenth Edition Large Cover
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