A Selective Look at the Impact of the Political Branches in Effecting Change
Although scholars sometimes describe constitutional amendments and judicial decisions as the real dynamos of change within society, in terms of sheer volume, the legislative and executive branches undoubtedly initiate most changes at both the state and national level. Given the importance of elections and electoral accountability in the American political system, this is certainly consistent with democratic theory. Politicians typically run for office promising to initiate reforms, and voters see their elections as evidence that the majority favor their proposals. Especially in landslide and in so-called critical, or realigning, elections, politicians may come into office with a strong mandate for change. 1
Laws and executive orders, like constitutional amendments and judicial decisions, can be located on a line in terms of their relationship to change, as demonstrated in Figure 4. 1.