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The Presidency of the United States

3. Leadership and the Power to Persuade

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we think about the power of the presidency in the context of the separation of powers in the US political system. We begin by thinking about Richard Neustadt’s influential thesis that the president’s authority depends on his ‘power to persuade’ members of the many power centres that comprise the US political system. We then explore the relationship between the presidency and Congress, focusing in particular on the key factors determining the president’s ability to influence Congress, including: (i) whether Congress happens to be ‘divided’ or ‘unified’; (ii) the impact of the president’s public popularity; (iii) the nature of the policy area in question, i.e. whether it concerns domestic or foreign affairs; and (iv) the importance of external events such as the 9/11 attacks and the 2007/8 financial crisis in magnifying the power and popularity of the president. Finally, we briefly consider how the president can exert influence on the US court system through the power to nominate judges and justices and express public support or condemnation for rulings.

Course

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.

Lecturer

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

APA style

Herbert, J. (2019, September 26). The Presidency of the United States - Leadership and the Power to Persuade [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-the-united-states/leadership-and-the-power-to-persuade

MLA style

Herbert, Jon. "The Presidency of the United States – Leadership and the Power to Persuade ." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Sep 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-the-united-states/leadership-and-the-power-to-persuade