A Presidential Nation: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

A Presidential Nation: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

A Presidential Nation: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

A Presidential Nation: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

Synopsis

The Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial. Why do we devote monuments to the presidents? Why do we honor them, instead of Congress, or the courts? A Presidential Nation examines how the presidency--an office limited by the Constitution and separation of powers--became the centerpiece of American government. Michael A. Genovese argues that in rebelling against the British, the Framers of the Constitution invented a circumscribed presidency to guard against executive tyranny. Yet, over time, presidential power has risen and congressional power declined to a point where the United States has a near imperial presidency. Reexamining the status of presidential power in the post-9/11 world, Dr. Genovese considers the alternatives, if any, to the current model of presidential power. A Presidential Nation is perfect for students of American Presidency and Federal Governance courses and anyone interested in the changing authority of the American political system.

Excerpt

Taking a leisurely stroll through the nation’s capital, one is struck by the sheer power and force of the architecture. Large, imposing buildings line the streets; the city oozes power. Sprinkled here and there are the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR Memorial … grand tributes to our presidential icons.

Why do we devote monuments to the presidents? Why do we honor the presidents so? Why don’t we do the same for Congress (the people’s branch) or the Courts (the great defenders of our rights and liberties)? Why not “the people”? What makes the presidency so special?

And in so honoring presidents at the expense of others, what message are we sending? Does the public, exposed as it is to the homages to the presidency, begin to view the president as a genuine Superman, powerful and good? Does this image accurately reflect the political world that presidents occupy? Do we “think” the president is more powerful than he or she truly is? By ignoring the separation of powers and the roadblocks faced by the presidents, do we give a false impression of both the power of the office and the systemic realities of the separation of powers? Are we doing constitutional violence when we elevate the presidency to such exalted . . .

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