The American Political Process

The American Political Process

The American Political Process

The American Political Process


The American Political Process examines both the formal institutions of government and organizations such as political parties and pressure groups. It analyses how these bodies interact in the making of public policy in the United States in order to provide an understanding of contemporary American politics. The new seventh edition of the text has been thoroughly updated and revised with entirely new material on: * the 2000 Presidential election and George W. Bush's presidency * the September 11th attacks and the 'war on terrorism' * the 2002 mid-term elections * controversial issues such as abortion and gun control. Each chapter includes a variety of useful tables and diagrams, suggestions for further reading and relevant websites and a glossary of key terms. Written with admirable clarity, this new edition is the ideal textbook for students of American politics and society.


I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

With these words each of America’s 43 Presidents has been sworn into office. However, America’s Chief Executive takes over an office that has developed substantially since George Washington took the same oath more than two centuries ago. the Founding Fathers could hardly have conceived that the office, which was intended to avoid the tyrannies connected with hereditary monarchy, would eventually have the formidable array of powers that any modern President inherits.

The President’s central position in American government is based on the fact that he is the only nationally elected politician who can claim to speak for the United States as a whole. Both in foreign policy and in domestic affairs, the President can claim to be representing the national interest as he sees it. When he meets a foreign head of state or takes an initiative on education policy, he speaks for America. in contrast, the Congress can be seen, in many respects, as 535 local politicians who represent parochial interests. in a government system that exhibits the separation of powers, a dispersion of authority and fragmentation of influence, the President has a major role in providing some form of unity and coordination.

The perception of many people is that the President is all-powerful and that the ‘presidential system’ inevitably leads to the Chief Executive getting his own way. in practice the position is far more complex. the checks and balances principle inherent in the American Constitution often leads to frustration for the President. the reality of presidential power is therefore something of a paradox; he is very powerful in some areas and almost powerless in others, and the effectiveness of the President will often depend upon factors over which he has no control. the problem for the President therefore is to ensure that his constitutional powers actually work for him. a President must not only use executive authority constructively and wisely in the interest of the United States, but also within the limits of the constitutional system.

The different roles of the President

The presidency of the United States is one office held by one individual, but in fact the Constitution sets out a number of roles for him that can, analytically at least, be seen as distinctive. However, the Constitution has surprisingly little to say about the powers of the President, and this silence in many areas has allowed the holders of the office to ‘fill in the details’ by extending presidential action in ways not necessarily foreseen by the . . .

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