Ten Booklist on Presidential Leadership

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Presidential leadership and its qualities are often assumed or imposed by the culture of the given age. While the Constitution and laws of the United States clearly lay out how the executive branch is suppose to act, there are many cases of interpretation and precedent involved in the powers and actions presidents have taken. Perhaps an example of this are the wars and conflicts the United States has fought over the last 70 years without formally declaring war. The following provides a top ten booklist of presidential leadership.

Presidential Leadership

1. Edwards, G.C. (1990) At the margins: presidential leadership of congress. New Haven, Yale Univ Press.

Often, one of the most contentious relationships presidents have are with Congress, even if their own party rules the legislative branch. The book by Edwards is now slightly dated but is still relevant in an era where contentious politics between the legislative and executive branches happen before our eyes. It demonstrates how presidents have tried to take leadership and influence Congress to act on their agendas.


2. Azari, J.R., Brown, L.M. & Nwokora, Z.G. (2013) The presidential leadership dilemma: between the Constitution and a political party. [Online]. Albany, State University of New York Press.

Partisan politics in particular has, in the last few presidents, created difficulties for presidents to enact their agendas. Key challenges include how a president has, at least historically, often tried to be portrayed as a "national leader" for all Americans while still, in reality, act as the leader of a political party. The rhetoric given to the public often tries to combine election results with their agendas and platforms so that the winning party tries to display a form of mandate, while often in presidential politics various other factors may be at play as to why certain individuals or parties win power. Examples of this include the 2008 election, where Obama's victory was in party fueled by anti-Bush sentiment, including his own appeal, that had taken over the country. Nevertheless, this allowed Obama and the Democrats to enact a series of measures that have subsequently become highly contentious with conservatives and parts of the public.

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