The President Over the Public: The Plebiscitary Presidency at Center Stage

  • Lori Cox Han
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


This chapter begins with a narrower version of the question posed throughout this book—does the public presidency pose a threat to constitutional democracy in America? While the framers may have been somewhat ambivalent about how strong the president should be, with James Madison arguing for a government that limited itself through checks and balances to diffuse power in Federalist 51 while Alexander Hamilton argued for a powerful and energetic executive in Federalist 70, the public arena has certainly provided some presidents with broader powers than perhaps intended. As with other powers of the office, the public aspects of the presidency have had important historical developments, particularly during the twentieth century. The proliferation of daily newspapers at the turn of the twentieth century, followed by the advent of radio, then television, and then the expansion of newer technologies like the Internet and satellite transmissions, have created myriad opportunities for presidents to communicate. Along with the opportunities came the expectation that the president would be an effective communicator, using the bully pulpit to rally for public policies and to share his vision for America with his fellow citizens.


Policy Agenda Transformational Leader Presidential Election Leadership Style Political Environment 
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© Michael A. Genovese and Lori Cox Han 2006

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  • Lori Cox Han

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