Richard Neustadt: Presidential Power and the Modern Presidency
Writing in 1960, Richard Neustadt is an important political theorist focusing on the US Presidency. Neustadt’s work was a reaction to the “old institutionalism” represented by writers like Edwin Corwin. Neustadt takes a behaviorist approach to understanding presidential power, and argues that the real functional power of the US president arises from his “power to persuade”. Neustadt acknowledges that the formal power of the US president is spelled out in the US Constitution but he argues that these formal powers do not adequately describe the real functional power of the president. For Neustadt the key to presidential power is the president’s ability to persuade other important actors to carry out what he wants done. Neustadt views the presidency as at the apex of a pyramid of governing power that provides the president with unique leverage and vantage points to bargain with and persuade others on implementing governing policy and direction. These other actors include cabinet officers and senior government bureaucrats, the congress, military leaders, leaders of state governments, party leaders, business leaders and even foreign leaders.
Neustadt does not see the US government as one of “separated power” under the Constitution. Instead he claims that the Constitution actually “created a government of separated institutions sharing powers. “ These separated institutions include the congress, federalism itself, the bill of rights and perhaps even the press as a fourth branch of government. Neustadt sees the formal powers of the president and congress as very intertwined such that neither can accomplish very much without the acquiescence of the other; and, that what one branch demands the other can resist.
Neustadt notes, for example that Eisenhower claimed that the presidency was part of the legislative process, since he had the authority to veto or sign bills, etc. But...
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