The President as Party Leader

The President as Party Leader

The President as Party Leader

The President as Party Leader

Synopsis

There has been no book before this one about the president as his own political party's leader. Davis has studied the presidency for more than forty years and has been on the campaign trail with candidates and incumbents, and attended national party meetings. This lively text shows how presidents and political parties depend on each other. The history and analysis examine the political process, relations between the president and Congress and political parties, and discusses reforms that may make presidents more effective leaders.

Excerpt

No aspect of American government fascinates the American public and academicians more than the presidency and the forty-one incumbents who have occupied the nation's highest office. Books and monographs come off the press in an unending stream, and the publication pace shows no signs of slowing down. However, no full-length study of the American president as party leader has appeared in the twentieth century. This scholarly neglect is difficult to explain because all great nineteenth- and twentieth-century presidents have been powerful party leaders. Chapters and sections of books have been devoted to the president's party role, but they have always been incorporated into broader studies of the American chief executive. This text endeavors to fill this gap in American political literature.

Former White House staffer George Reedy has argued that presidents are most effective when they understand the political process and are deeply immersed in it. On the other side of the coin, those presidents who shunned politics and their party leadership role, or who lacked the necessary political skills, have been labeled failures. History shows that strong twentieth-century presidents--Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson--all used their party leadership position to the hilt in winning approval of their programs. Passage of landmark legislation associated with Wilson's New Freedom," FDR's New Deal," and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and civil rights legislation would not have been possible without huge presidential party majorities in Congress. In the opening chapters, the rise of the president as party leader is discussed as well as his emergence as legislative leader in the twentieth century.

Since 1968, however, and even during six years of Eisenhower's two terms in the 1950s, the nation has experienced divided government-- the presidency controlled by the Republicans and one or both houses of Congress in the hands of the Democrats--for twenty of the past twenty-

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