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Succession and Democratic Theory

  • Philip Abbott
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)

Abstract

In his classic study of political power, Bertrand de Jouvenal presents several models of political succession in Polynesia. On Tonga, a king was selected from a single family. Upon assuming office, all inhabitants of the island kissed his feet. Whenever he spoke, they responded in unison, “How true!” But this leader exercised no direct political power. Upon taking office, he lived apart and prayed and mediated. Another leader, chosen in a contest, ruled. Jouvenal calls the one the “passive king” and the other, the “active king.” He notes that in the Fiji islands the leaders bore the names, “the respectable king” and the “root of war.”

Keywords

Vice President Democratic Theory Electoral College Direct Election Presidential Succession 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bertrand de Jouvenal, Sovereignty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 98–99.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    C. H. Dood, “Political Succession in the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey,” in Peter Calvert, ed., The Process of Political Succession (London: Macmillan, 1987), p. 82.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Robbins Burling, The Passage of Power: Studies in Political Succession (New York: Academic Press, 1974), p. 214.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See, for example: Peter Calvert, “The Theory of Political Succession” in Calvert, ed., The Process of Political Succession, pp. 245–65; Robert Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989); Michael Saward, Democracy (London: Polity Press, 2003); Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (London: Allen and Unwin, 1943).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a review of this phenomenon in theory and a critique of practice, see Richard A. Brody, Assessing the President (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991), pp. 27–44.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Philip Abbott, Marjorie Sarbaugh-Thompson, and Lyke Thompson, “The Social Construction of a Legitimate Presidency,” Studies in American Political Development (Fall 2002), pp. 208–230.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Martin Van Buren, Inquiry into the Origin and Cause of Political Parties in the United States (New York, 1876), p. 290.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sergio Bertelli, The Kings Body (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001), pp. 214–30.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    James E. Campbell divides presidential elections into four categories (near dead heats, close contests, moderate competitive elections, and landslides). One-third of the elections constitute landslides. The American Campaign: US Presidential Elections and the National Vote (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2000), pp. 163–85.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Robert Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics (New Haven, Ct: Yale University Press, 1989), pp. 119–31. The inclusion problem, of course, is coterminous for the entire history of presidential elections with respect to African Americans and was prominent in the 2000 election recount.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., “On Presidential Succession.” Political Science Quarterly 89 (1974), pp. 475–505.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Hugh Williamson of North Carolina explicitly made this point. Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Constitutional Convention (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 2:537. Joel K. Goldstein, however, contends that there was no compelling reason for the creation of the office on these terms. The Modern Vice Presidency (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982), p. 5.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    See Ruth C. Silva, Presidential Succession (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), p. 13.Google Scholar
  14. 21.
    Richard P. McCormick reviews these “uncertain rules for a hazardous game” in The Presidential Game: The Origin of Presidential Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1882).Google Scholar
  15. 22.
    Henry Adams, ed., The Writings of Albert Gallatin (Philadelphia, 1879), 1:51.Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    Donald Lutz, Philip Abbott, Barbara Allen, and Russell Hansen “The Electoral College in Historical and Philosophical Perspective” in Paul D. Schumaker and Burdett A. Loomis, eds., Choosing a President: The Electoral College and Beyond (New York: Chatham House, 2002), pp. 35–40.Google Scholar
  17. 24.
    Jody C. Baumgartner, The American Vice President Reconsidered (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006), pp. 14–16.Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    See chapter 10. For a general appraisal, see John D. Feerick, The Twenty-Fifth Amendment (New York: Fordham University Press, 1992), pp. 193–239.Google Scholar
  19. 29.
    Vance R. Kincaide, Jr. reviews these cases in Heirs Apparent: Solving the Vice presidential Dilemma (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000).Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    James David Barber, The Presidential Character (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972), p. 9.Google Scholar
  21. 35.
    Steven J. Rubenzer and Thomas R. Faschingbauer, Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House (Potomac books: Washington, DC, 2004), pp. 22, 25.Google Scholar
  22. 36.
    Stephen Skowronek, The Politics Presidents Make (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), pp. 47–48.Google Scholar
  23. 37.
    Ibid., pp. 229, 259. For Skowronek, TR is also a difficult case since his policies bore some resemblance to reconstructive politics and his campaign for the presidency in 1912 promised major departures.Google Scholar

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© Philip Abbott 2008

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  • Philip Abbott

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