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4. Executive Power and the Imperial Presidency
About this Lecture
In this module, we examine Arthur Schlesinger’s provocative ‘imperial presidency’ thesis which challenges the assumptions of Neustadt’s model of presidential persuasion and ascribes a more direct executive power to the president. We begin by thinking about the impact of major historical developments such as the Great Depression and Second World War on the creation of a huge federal bureaucracy, considering the argument that this enabled the president to bypass the other branches of government. We conclude by thinking critically about Schlesinger’s thesis and emphasising how the president must engage in a bargaining process with other political powers in order to actualise his agenda.
In this course, Dr Jon Herbert (University of Keele) thinks about the office of the Presidency of the United States, focusing in particular on the extent of the president’s powers. We begin in the first module by thinking about how the Founding Fathers set up the presidency in the Constitution as an office significantly constrained by checks and balances. Then, in the second module, we draw a distinction between the ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ powers of the presidency, thinking in particular about how these have been expanded in recent decades. In the third module, we think about Richard Neustadt’s important thesis that the president’s authority lies in his (someday her) ‘power to persuade’ the various political institutions that comprise the ‘separation of powers’. Finally, in the fourth module, we examine Arthur Schlesinger’s ‘imperial presidency’ thesis which argued that, contrary to Neustadt’s model, the president was capable of bypassing the democratic checks an balances of the Constitution and maintain a direct hold on power.
Jon Herbert is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Keele. He specialises in the US Presidency, focusing in particular on the rhetoric of individual presidents and developments in US criminal justice policy.
Cite this Lecture
Herbert, J. (2019, September 26). The Presidency of the United States - Executive Power and the Imperial Presidency [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-the-united-states/executive-power-and-the-imperial-presidency
Herbert, Jon. "The Presidency of the United States – Executive Power and the Imperial Presidency ." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Sep 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-the-united-states/executive-power-and-the-imperial-presidency