The Decline and Fall of the American Republic (Tanner by Bruce Ackerman

By Bruce Ackerman

Bruce Ackerman indicates how the institutional dynamics of the final half-century have reworked the yankee presidency right into a capability platform for political extremism and lawlessness. Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the struggle on Terror are just signs of deeper pathologies. ­Ackerman issues to a chain of advancements that experience formerly been taken care of independently of 1 another—from the increase of presidential primaries, to the position of pollsters and media specialists, to the centralization of strength in White apartment czars, to the politicization of the army, to the manipulation of constitutional doctrine to justify presidential power-grabs. He indicates how those diversified ameliorations can have interaction to generate profound constitutional crises within the twenty-first century—and then proposes a sequence of reforms that may reduce, if now not dispose of, the hazards going ahead. The publication goals to start a brand new constitutional debate. americans are not think that Barack Obama’s centrism and constitutionalism will typify the presidencies of the twenty-first century. we should always grab the current chance to confront deeper institutional pathologies prior to it really is too overdue. (20101019)

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As demagogy becomes scientific, the great institutional checks on its abuse are disintegrating. During the twentieth century, big city newspapers had the fi nancial resources for large staffs of serious journalists who made it their business to interrogate the administration’s story line. The prospect of critical response restrained the White House from indulging in particularly egre- An Extremist Presidency 27 gious media manipulations and distortions— especially since network newscasts generally took their cue from newspaper story lines.

In a fi nal effort to redeem his military gamble, he ordered more, not fewer, troops into Iraq. But at the end of the day, he was obliged to convince Congress to appropriate the extra money needed to sustain his “surge” into the future. With his poll numbers sinking into the 30s,32 how was he to gain support from a Democratic Congress? The president used General David Petraeus, his new commanding general in Iraq, as his principal political weapon. The climax came on September 11, 2007. ” The president didn’t pick Petraeus by accident.

This dynamic will be at its maximum if the president gains his office through extremist appeals to primary activists; but even candidates who campaign as centrists will be sorely tempted to take this path in times of emergency. Recall that George W. Bush was elected as a mainstream moderate, running on a platform that made him seem almost indistinguishable from the equally moderate Al Gore. Ask yourself how the last decade would have gone if the victor in 2000 had instead campaigned as a proud representative of the Republican right wing.

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