Dwight Eisenhower and the New Deal: The Politics of Preemption

By Harris, Douglas B. | Presidential Studies Quarterly, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

Dwight Eisenhower and the New Deal: The Politics of Preemption


Harris, Douglas B., Presidential Studies Quarterly


In The Politics That Presidents Make, Stephen Skowronek argues that presidents should be compared as a result of similarities in their historical/political circumstances rather than their proximate time in history. Specifically, Skowronek places presidents into a typology in which both the strength of the existing political regime (established by a previous president) and the affiliation of the president with or the opposition of the president to the existing regime arc considered. This typology produces four types of presidential politics: the politics of reconstruction, the politics of articulation, the politics of disjunction, and the politics of preemption.(1) Presidents who are opposed to vulnerable existing regimes have an opportunity to change political discourse and reconstruct American politics. Reconstructive presidents have the most impact on American politics. Presidents who are affiliated with resilient regimes practice the politics of articulation in which they hope to stoke the fires of the reconstructed rhetoric and coalitions with which they are affiliated. Presidents affiliated with vulnerable regimes are disjunctive presidents. Constrained by their affiliation with existing coalitions and programs which are being questioned and losing their relevance in the broader political system, disjunctive presidents attempt to keep this faltering regime together. Finally, presidents practicing the politics of preemption are opposed to resilient regimes, but in the difficult position of searching for reconstructive opportunities where reconstruction is neither warranted by mandate nor sufficiently supported by segments of society.

Using a historical approach, Skowronek explains the ways in which a number of presidents fit into the first three categories, but he gives little attention to the politics of preemption. This relative neglect of preemptive presidents is unfortunate in that, being "opposition leaders in resilient regimes," the politics of preemption represents "the most curious of all leadership situations,"(2) How do opposition leaders ascend to the presidency if the regime to which they are opposed is still strong? And, what are the opportunities and limitations of presidents in this situation? Moreover, this neglect of the politics of preemption is puzzling in that Skowronek's conclusions suggest that the future of presidential politics will be dominated by preemptive presidents.(3)

Certainly the politics of preemption deserves more attention than it has received. I selected Dwight Eisenhower for several reasons. First, there is some controversy over the relationship of Eisenhower to the New Deal regime established by Franklin Roosevelt. And with a few notable exceptions, the scholarship has ignored Eisenhower's motives in regard to the New Deal as well as his eventual impact on the New Deal regime.(4) Second, Skowronek is ambiguous about where Eisenhower fits in political time. Although he suggests that "Eisenhower is, perhaps, the most remarkable of the preemptive leaders," Skowronek refuses to include Eisenhower among the ranks of preemptive presidents. He opts instead to put Eisenhower with Presidents Coolidge and Cleveland as "hard cases."(5) I argue that the Eisenhower case is not hard at all. On the contrary, Eisenhower is the most successful of the preemptive presidents. And third, as a result of his atypical success as a preemptive leader, the Eisenhower case may provide a blueprint for President Clinton and the perpetual string of preemptive presidents that Skowronek suggests will succeed him.

Eisenhower and the New Deal: A President in Political Time

Many scholars have suggested that the Eisenhower presidency made the New Deal legitimate in American politics.(6) Prior to Eisenhower, the Republican party, for the most part, stood in opposition to New Deal policies. V. O. Key, Jr. attributes the acceptance of the New Deal in the Republican party to the Eisenhower presidency.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dwight Eisenhower and the New Deal: The Politics of Preemption
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.