The Reconstructive Obama
It is ambiguous as to how President Barrack Obama shapes our politics in terms of our political regime, but it can be determined through the present outcomes of his leadership today. In The Politics Presidents Make, by Stephen Skowronek, describes that there is a life-cycle of inaugurated presidents through the history of the United States. A political regime is defined as a full cycle of presidents that induce change in our politics until it is repeated again. Through this, it is possible to determine where President Obama would stand in our political time. Skowronek also mentions four leadership categories in which past presidents are placed in: politics of reconstruction, politics of disjunction, politics of articulation, and politics of pre-emption. In order to place President Obama into this spectrum, it is important to understand how President George W. Bush shaped our politics during his presidential period. This being said, President Obama would be part of the politics of reconstruction after evaluating his current actions as president today.
In this paper, I will first describe the concepts of Skowronek’s ideas and demonstrate an understanding of his four principle leadership categories. Then I will apply this to our current political time, according to President Bush and then examining President Obama. By analyzing Skowronek’s conception, I will show evidence to locate President Obama’s presidency in our current political time.
Skowronek’s main claim is that presidents are situated in different moments of political time. He explains that there is a life-cycle of presidents which is made up of numerous political regimes where each president stands in relation to that political regime and its regime party. In each political regime, they are made up of the “3 I’s” which are ideas, interests, and institutions. What distinguish each political regime are the changes in these “3I’s.” To illustrate this, the period during 1933-1981 was named the New Deal Regime. The New Deal idea was an economic constitutionalism where citizens were given basic rights to economic security and the government having an active role in nation’s economy through government programs. The New Deal interests were made up of new coalitions such as The Solid South. And the New Deal institutions were made up of new institutions such as a new welfare state and institutions of business regulation. Each political regime is considered to have a period of resilience and a period of decay (vulnerability). During the resilient phase, new ideas tend to be very popular with the people and the regime party is considered homogeneous during times of reform. This is a period of strength where the new political policies are usually easily accepted. In contrast, during the vulnerable phase, ideas tend to be more inactive and less appealing to the people and coalitions also tend to be more segregated between the orthodox wings and the reformers who want to change the status quo. Today, I would consider this time to be a vulnerable phase because President Obama, being the first African-American president, is undergoing a process where he is challenging these oppositions to change in order to create a new political regime. If in the later future he succeeds, then he would accomplish to bring the United States to a resilient phase. These phases of political regimes are significant in how modern presidents are depicted as conforming to the different types of political authority. In relation, the regime party is the party of the president who initiated a particular political regime. “Leaders either come to power from the opposition to the pre-established regime, or they come to power affiliated with its basic commitments.” Each president who comes to power is considered affiliated or opposed depending on the party of the first president of a particular political regime. Affiliated leadership is considered to be “less privileged or harder to...
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Milkis, Sidney M., and Jesse H. Rhodes. “Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the Future of the “New American Party System”“ The Obama Administration: Setting Up A Government 7.1 (2009): 1-26.
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