Book Summary and Review: Going Public by Samuel Kernell

Topics: President of the United States, President, Ronald Reagan Pages: 7 (1897 words) Published: March 9, 2012
Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential Leadership by Samuel Kernell

Presidents use sympathetic crowds
rally public opinion to his side (promote himself and his policies) going public remains a potent weapon in the president’s arsenal, for advocating his own agenda and blocking initiatives from adversaries in Congress. This strategy continues to evolve given the intense polarization of Congress and the electroate AND changes in communications technology Implications of these factors (especially in combination) on the future of presidential leadership the lessons of 9/11 on going public in foreign affairs

Going public means making direct appeals to voters in order to scare Congress into passing legislation that hte president wants. this is not the only strategy, and choosing gp over other options has its costs. Central question of the book: Why should presidents come to favor a strategy of leadership that appears so incompatible with the principles of pluralist theory? (p11) pluralism (in politics): political system of power-sharing among a number of political parties a system in which two or more states, groups, principles sources of authority, etc. coexist. Kernell’s answer to this: divided government makes bargaining a less appealing and successful strategy, forcing presidents into their public appeals. main argument sequence of the book:

only outsiders can go public
why going public is a new strategy: institutionalized vs. individualized pluralism other (less important) reasons that going public is a new strategy constraints on going public

Introduction: Going Public in Theory and Practice
power of the president and how he bargains in washington
why the president would choose to “go public”
Example: Ronald Reagan - accomplished more because of his success in going public. the trend of “going public” was led by Ronald Reagan (“The Great Communicator”) see Chapter
Chapter 2: How Washington Has Changed
two different presidential styles: institutionalized pluralism and individualized luralism institutionalized - the process of presidential bargaining with Congress to pass measures features a small number of fixed groups as actors.

major players: committee chairs, party leaders, interest groups, and other oligarchs. there is continuity among the players, so bargaining can take a long-term perspective. favors today can be exchanged for unspecified future favors. the (Neustadt) bargaining community

pluralist views = bargaining views
of the president (e.g. Neustadt, Dahl, Truman, Lindblom)
FDR - although he was a master of public relations, he succeeded mainly by dealing with powerful elites who dominated the various “protocoalitions” in DC (e.g. Congress) on one hand, political elites do mediate the impact of public opinion - this makes it effective. but, there’s lots of political risks accompanid with efforts to rally the masses. institutionalizing allowed FDR to operate within the margins of political power individualized - going public

a plethora of individuals rather than a few leaders. (the emerging community) bargaining is far more difficult
thus, going public is more attractive bc it enables a president to rile up public opinion against several individual legislators simultaneously. it’s more heavy-handed tactic, but it’s effective.

reasons why a president would go public
decline in party loyalty
increase in teh number of interested parties (interest groups) due to the growth of the welfare state rise of independent political entrepreneurs (especially in Congress, but also in the presidency as a result of increasing importance of the primaries). because there are more players, bargaining is harder.

reneging on deals is easier
the collective action obstacles are greater.
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