This module will be an in-depth look at the 21st century American presidency. It will focus on the exercise of presidential power in the 21st century by examining presidential failures and presidential successes and the critical components of each such as policy, communication and implementation. In the course of this we will examine specific topics such as how modern presidents are nominated and selected and the ways that the current electoral system rewards certain characteristics of would-be presidents and ignores others. We will compare the exercise of public or rhetorical power versus the exercise of private power or the ability to persuade other elites in the system. We will look at the presidential circle; consisting of, at various times, vice presidents, spouses and key advisors, as a means of understanding the filters through which information moves and decisions are made. And we will look at how presidents change the political parties they belong to and how their parties shape and constrain presidential action.
This class is designed to be a seminar for those with a knowledge of American government, politics and history, it is not an introduction to American government or to the American presidency. Class size will be limited and it is expected that students will come to class having done the reading and ready to participate in the discussion.
Students desiring to take this class must get permission from the instructor. Please submit a CV accompanied by an informal note (200 words) giving your background in American politics and/or history.