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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In contrast to mainstream presidential studies, American Political Development (APD) scholars have viewed presidents as critical agents of structural change. They have dedicated creative theorizing, archival research, process tracing, and thick description to the investigation of how presidents have been formative actors in state-building and in redefining regime norms and the terms of constitutional government throughout American history. This chapter explores how an APD approach to studying the presidency sheds light on critical questions such as how presidents have influenced the rise and fall of political orders in American history; how presidential power has been affected by the emergence of “big government” during the first six decades of the twentieth century; and how the establishment of a presidency-centered democracy forged on the New Deal political order has affected representative constitutional government. Continued attention to regime-level issues requires that APD maintain its traditional ties to political theory and the humanities.

Keywords: presidency, president, leadership, theories of the presidency, modern presidency, administrative presidency, rhetorical presidency, presidential reconstructions, presidential prerogative

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