Benjamin Barber

Benjamin Barber is a professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of The Forthcoming Strong Democracy, among other books.

The Unmaking of the President

Benjamin Barber, 7 October 1982

At the end of the last century, a Princeton historian with a taste for politics looked back over the thirty years which had elapsed since Lincoln’s death, surveyed the lacklustre Presidents who had come and gone and the tyrannical Congressional committee chairmen who seemed often to govern in the President’s stead, and issued a clarion call for a new politics of Presidential leadership. The book he wrote, Congressional Government, did not yield immediate results: the Madisonian constitutional system had, after all, been devised to protect the nation against a too powerful Presidency. Nevertheless, the next fifteen years witnessed the startlingly vigorous administration of Teddy Roosevelt, the beginning of a long process of whittling Congressional committees down to size, and an opportunity for the zealous historian – Woodrow Wilson – to put his theory into practice as the 28th President of the United States.

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