The New Imperial Presidency
Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate
Has the imperial presidency returned? This question has been on the minds of many contemporary political observers, as recent American administrations have aimed to consolidate power
In The New Imperial Presidency, Andrew Rudalevige suggests that the congressional framework meant to advise and constrain presidential conduct since Watergate has slowly eroded. Rudalevige describes the evolution of executive power in our separated system of governance. He discusses the abuse of power that prompted what he calls the "resurgence regime" against the imperial presidency and inquires as to how and why---over the three decades that followed Watergate---presidents have regained their standing.
Chief executives have always sought to interpret constitutional powers broadly. The ambitious president can choose from an array of strategies for pushing against congressional authority; finding scant resistance, he will attempt to expand executive control. Rudalevige's important and timely work reminds us that the freedoms secured by our system of checks and balances do not proceed automatically but depend on the exertions of public servants and the citizens they serve. His story confirms the importance of the "living Constitution," a tradition of historical experiences overlaying the text of the Constitution itself.
Andrew Rudalevige is Associate Professor of Political Science at Dickinson College.
Praise / Awards
"Well written and, while indispensable for college courses, should appeal beyond academic audiences to anyone interested in how well we govern ourselves....I cannot help regarding it as a grand sequel for my own The Imperial Presidency."
---Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
"Readable and extremely pertinent, The New Imperial Presidency combines masterful history and trenchant analysis of the push and pull for power between Presidents and Congresses -- and the key role played by each institution's will for power and responsibility. In the story of this distinctly American political drama, Professor Rudalevige gives us a timely primer for making sense of today's Washington scene."
---former Congressman David Skaggs, executive director, Center for Democracy & Citizenship, Washington, D.C.
"Rudalevige is an authoritative guide to the resurgence of presidential power since its decline in the post-Watergate years, and to the corresponding eclipse of the Congress. Charting a trend that has reached "tidal wave" proportions in the George W. Bush presidency, Rudalevige gives a convincing account both of the extravagance of current executive claims and the dangers of congressional inertia and public passivity."
---David E. Price, U.S. Representative (D.-N.C.)
"The George W. Bush years provide a timely backdrop for this richly documented analysis of presidential assertiveness since Watergate."
---Fred Greenstein, Princeton University
"Rudalevige sounds a wake-up call, urging us to recall and rededicate ourselves to the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances, separation of powers, representative government, and what it takes to keep a republic. Other branches, and the public, need to check the high-flying presidency. Powerfully argued and written."
---Louis Fisher, author of Presidential War Power
"Andrew Rudalevige deals with central issues of presidential power and congressional irresponsibility. He makes a persuasive argument about the dangers of unfettered presidential power, but also takes Congress to task for failure to enforce its own prerogatives or use the framework laws it has previously enacted. His examples are compelling -- even devastating. His is a voice of reasoned argumentation, and his scholarship provides a major theoretical contribution to presidential studies."
---Richard Pious, Adolph and Effie Ochs Professor, Barnard College
"This book should help awaken both the electorate and its leaders to the urgency of a subject long at the heart of constitutional government. Gracefully written, sparkling with vivid quotations and insightful analysis, The New Imperial Presidency will reward both specialists and students. Yet most crucially, it is a book for citizens who seek to understand and control the politics that, in spite of all, they continue to authorize."
--- Russell Muirhead, Political Science Quarterly
Named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Copyright © 2005, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted November 2005 and January 2006.
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