Presidential Eras and POLITICAL POWER

Dr. Arrington Examines the New, Rogue, Fourth Era of the American Presidency


– Written on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day –

Writing in Federalist #70, Alexander Hamilton argued that the fledgling United States of America desperately needed a president. But over the last 225 years, many so-called scholars have demonstrated that the American presidency, while being a unique and necessary political construct, is also an inherently dangerous paradigm as well. Thus we have the logical paradox of the American presidency. America needs a president but the power of that office is always a potential threat to our individual liberty as citizens.

Likewise, the appropriate use of political power and leadership has always been a perplexing one, in part because of the sustaining myth that the people are sovereign. Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) captured this puzzling aspect of American political life when he said that “the people want to be led and they want to remain free. Since they cannot destroy ether of these contradictory propositions, the Americans strive to satisfy them both at once through democratic constitutional government.”

Thus we have the logical paradox of the American people. Bearing this in mind, F. Scott Fitzgerald taught us that the ultimate trial of a truly intelligent human being is the ability to embrace two diametrically opposed concepts, simultaneously in their mind, without going insane.

When I teach The American Presidency course at UCLA, I always begin by introducing my students to a modern concept of presidential power known as the Three Eras of the Presidency. This analytical design is a standard diagnostic tool used by presidential analysts to examine American Presidents. Discovering how each Chief Executive used or abused the enumerated and inherent powers of their office and what success or failure they engendered, is one of the purposes of using this construct. Determining who are the great presidents and who are the failed presidents is another goal.

The Three Eras of the American presidency are: the Heroic Era, the Imperial Era, and the Post-Imperial Era.

During the Heroic Era, several authors glorified the men of the presidency. Men like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Jackson, Roosevelt, Wilson and Truman were worshiped as the great presidents.

Academics such as Clinton Rossiter (The American Presidency) called the presidency “the office of freedom.” He viewed it as the exact opposite of tyranny and “the office that helps ordinary citizens realize their hopes and dreams. Power has never corrupted the presidency….ever! Why, because the men who have held the office knew that their vast powers came from the people, and they respected this fact.”

During the Heroic Era, presidential power was good.

In the 1970’s, presidential researchers offered us a profoundly different conception of the American presidency, probably due to the bad taste in their mouth stemming from the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal. During the Imperial Era of the presidency journalists and authors characterized the office as the American monarchy. In his book The Twilight of the Presidency, George Reedy argued that “far from ennobling its occupants, the office creates an environment in which presidents cannot function in any kind of decent and human relationship with the people they are supposed to lead.”

Presidential advisers were most to blame in this situation because they never wanted to tell the chief Executive any bad news. These sycophants merely told the president what they wanted to hear, quickly becoming Victims of Groupthink (Janus Irving). As such, they purposely isolated the Chief Executive from the harsh realities of political life. Depraved presidential decisions were often the result of this isolation.

During the Imperial Era of the presidency, presidential power was bad.

From 1961 through 1978, our nation had five different presidents and a relatively rapid turnover of executive power. This caused the presidents to have a rapid style of policymaking and witnessed them engaging in politically risky activities merely to get elected. During the campaign, candidates tended to unrealistically raise hopes among the electorate about what they would do accomplish once in office.

During the Post-Imperial Era, presidents cut corners and quickly hammered legislation through Congress, leaving the details of implementation to members of the unelected bureaucracy. This approach to governing from The White House proved disastrous on numerous occasions because presidential power had been thoroughly weakened.

During the Post-Imperial Era, presidential power was debilitated.

I argue that with Barack Obama at the helm, we are currently suffering through the Fourth Era of The American Presidency. The Rogue Era is characterized by unrepentant lawlessness on the part of the president and his administration. The Constitution is not the law of the land, it is merely and ancient document that serves as a guideline for action. Therefore, all of our sacred founding documents are to be constantly re-interpreted by Ivy League lawyers and relentlessly spun by the media to coincide with the political path the Chief Executive has chosen for America.

During the Rogue Era, presidential power is destructive.

This is the most hazardous time for America in our entire, glorious history. If We the People don’t seize the unbridled, lawless, unconstitutional power away from Obama or any other Communist Democrat who occupies the Office of the President, our nation WILL COLLAPSE and be totally dismantled and destroyed forever.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. All true, patriotic Americans (past, present and future) were at Normandy on June 6, 1944. I do not believe for one second that those brave men who stormed the beaches of France to bring an end to World War II and who willingly sacrificed their lives for American liberty did this so that a man like Barack Obama would be put into The White House by ignorant, parasitic voters who do not understand the danger in trading their sovereignty and freedom for some temporary material security.

Remember, American Liberty is ALWAYS just one generation away from extinction.

There can be no patriotism without liberty; no liberty without virtue; no virtue without citizens.

Speak the Truth.

Endure the Consequences.

Randy Arrington, PhD

Dr. Arrington was a guest on Radio Red Nation Rising on April 6th

Originally published at – Published here with author permission.

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