PS140B Syllabus.pdf - POLITICAL SCIENCE 140B The American Presidency Fall Quarter 2019 Instructor Office Telephone E-mail Office Hours Final Exam Scott

PS140B Syllabus.pdf - POLITICAL SCIENCE 140B The American...

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POLITICAL SCIENCE 140B The American Presidency Fall Quarter, 2019 Instructor: Scott C. James Office: 3343 Bunche Hall Telephone: 310-825-4331 (main office) E-mail: [email protected] Office Hours: Monday, 9:00am-10:30am Final Exam: Thursday, December 12, 2019, 8am-11am (final exam location TBD) Contemporary American government is president-centered government. Modern presidents are expected to formulate the nation's domestic and foreign agendas, lead public opinion, build winning coalitions in Congress, and manage the administration of public policy through the executive branch. Yet, as both scholarly and journalistic accounts make clear, the limited formal authority of the president and the presence of competing centers of power (e.g., Congress, the bureaucracy, the media, and organized groups) make successful presidential leadership a sporadic and contingent affair. In the words of one leading political scientist, "the expectations surrounding presidential performance far outstrip the institutional capacity of presidents to perform." As a result, presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have sought aggressively to enhance their control over the structures and processes of government, to build up the institutional powers of the office, and, on occasion, to test the limits of the Constitution itself. This course constitutes an inquiry into the origins, structure, and operations of the modern American presidency. Its purpose is to familiarize students with concepts and issues at the center of contemporary political science scholarship on the presidency. Three normative concerns broadly guide the organization of this course: First, generally speaking, do Americans get the kind of president they want? Put differently, what are the qualities we expect our presidents to possess in office and how successfully do our electoral institutions select for such individuals? Second, what are the determinants of effective presidential leadership? That is to say, why are some presidents more successful than others at exerting their influence over the governing process? And third, what is the proper role of the presidency in the contemporary American political system? Are the powers of the presidency adequate to the tasks expected of presidents? Does the growth of presidential power present a challenge to traditions notions of republican government? We will begin with an examination of the constitutional origins of the presidency. What role did the Framers expect the president to play in the American political
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