Americans have deep-seated skepticism about presidential power. This skepticism is not always made explicit in the public’s day-to-day political expressions, but it is a latent force in American political culture forged at the founding of the nation and ingrained in grade school civics lessons. It is not a legalistic or intellectual understanding of the text of the US Constitution or Declaration of Independence. Rather, this skepticism reflects a belief that the separation of powers, especially in their protection from tyranny, is sacrosanct. Just as Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence—an indictment against monarchical executive power—or cheer against King George III in the musical Hamilton, the public has inherited a wariness toward executive power. This latent force influences how Americans evaluate presidents and their policies and provides the political incentives for the familiar push-and-pull found in interbranch political conflict.
Join us as Professor Andrew Reeves of Washington University in St. Louis presents chapters from his book, No Blank Check: The Origins and Consequences of Public Antipathy towards Presidential Power, co-authored with Jon C. Rogowski. This seminar is part of the American Political Speakers Series, sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
This event will be held virtually and is open to Harvard students. Pre-reading is available below.
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About the Series
The American Politics Speaker Series (APSS) aims to bring together scholars who are doing research on important questions related to American democracy. Hosted jointly with the Center for American Political Studies and chaired by Professors Maya Sen, Benjamin Schneer, and Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, each session will highlight a scholar whose research is at the forefront of the study of American politics.