The American Presidency
The Trump presidency has forced a reexamination of the institution of the American presidency by both allies and critics of the current President. Allies of the President celebrate the disruption of presidential “norms” in support of populist ideals. Critics of the President bemoan the disappearance of those “norms” and warn of the threat that a resurgent “Imperial Presidency” poses to American democracy and its constitutional system. This course will introduce students to the evolution of the modern presidency, how it functioned before Trump and what is different about the current era. This course combines historical perspective and analysis with first-person accounts of what it is like to work in and for the White House. Are there any limits on presidential power at home and abroad? How were these limits established and, under our constitutional system, can they be undone? How have the nuclear and digital ages affected those powers? What role does the character or personality of the incumbent play in the functioning or effectiveness of a presidency? The core objectives of this course are to enable students to acquire the knowledge and analytical skills to assess any American presidency and understand its role in shaping the United States and the world.