Scholars and pundits have usually depicted Barack Obama as a prisoner of partisan rancor in Congress, which has been especially fierce on the Republican side of the aisle. We argue, to the contrary, that he has actively – if sometimes reluctantly – embraced the role of party leader, even in the management of the bureaucracy, the arena in which the modern presidency’s claim to transcend partisanship was nurtured. The Administration’s public celebration of unilateralism – typified by the “We Can’t Wait” initiative – is emblematic of a far-reaching development within the presidency and American politics: the rise of an executive centered party-system, which relies on presidential candidates and presidents to pronounce party doctrine, raise campaign funds, campaign on behalf of their partisan brethren, mobilize grass roots support and advance party programs. Although this development poses hard challenges to collective responsibility and the rule of law that undergirds it, Obama’s innovative administrative tactics may be the harbinger of a new paradigm that extols unilateral presidential policymaking as a habitual solution to partisan polarization.
Administrative Conference of the United States(ACUS). 2013. “Length of Rule Reviews by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.” December 2.
Carnesale, Albert. 2012. “Recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future: A Plan for Managing Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Nuclear Waste.” The Bridge 42 (2) (Summer): 15–22.
Coglianese, Cary. 2010. “Presidential Control of Administrative Agencies: A Debate over Law or Politics?” Journal of Constitutional Law 12: 637–649.
Crouch, Jeffrey, Mark J. Rozzell, and Mitchell A. Sollenberger. 2013. “President Obama’s Signing Statements and the Expansion of Executive Power.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 43 (4): 883–899.
Derthick, Martha. 2013. “On the Mutability of Laws,” paper prepared for a project on “Madisonian Thought in Contemporary Public Policy.” co-sponsored by the Montpelier Foundation and the Brookings Institution.
Farris, Anne, Richard P. Nathan, and David J. Wright. 2004. “The Expanding Administrative Presidency: George W. Bush and the Faith-Based Initiative.” The Roundtable on Religion and Social Policy, Rockefeller Institute of Government.
Galvin, Daniel J. 2010. Presidential Party Building: Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Gilbert, Lauren. 2013. “Obama’s Ruby Slippers: Enforcement Discretion in the Absence of Immigration Reform.” West Virginia Law Review 16: 256–310.
Lee, Taeku. 2013. “American the Blue? Thoughts on Racial Divides, Immigration Reform and Electoral Alignments.” Presentation at the John Galbraith Conference on Immigration.
Lewis, David. 2011. “Presidential Appointments in the Obama Administration: An Early Evaluation.” In The Obama Presidency: Change and Continuity, edited by Andrew Dowdle, Dirk van Raemdonck, and Robert Maranto, New York: Routledge.
Milkis, Sidney M., 1993. The President and the Parties: the Transformation of the American Party System Since the New Deal. New York: Oxford University Press.
Milkis, Sidney M., and Jesse H. Rhodes. 2007. “George W. Bush, the Republican Party and the ‘New’ Party System.” Perspectives on Politics 5 (3): 461–488.
Milkis, Sidney M., Jesse H. Rhodes, and Emily J. Charnock. 2012. “” Perspectives on Politics 10(1): 57–76.
Milkis, Sidney M., Jesse H. Rhodes, and Emily Charnock. 2013. “What Happened to Post-Partisanship? Barack Obama and the New American Party System.” Perspectives on Politics 10 (1): 57–76.
Moe, Terry, and William G. Howell. 1999. “The Presidential Power of Unilateral Action.” Journal of Law, Economics and Organizations 15 (1): 132–179.
Nathan, Richard. 1983. The Administrative Presidency. New York: Wiley.
Oppenheimer, Bruce I. 2013. “It’s Hard to Get Mileage Out of Congress: Struggling Over CAFE Standards, 1973-2013.” Paper presented at the Conference on Congress and Policymaking in the 21st Century, University of Virginia, June 3–4, 2013.
Sanchez, Gabriel. 2013. The Implications for Immigration Reform for Latin American Behavior, presentation at the John Galbraith Conference on Immigration, October 11, sponsored by the Miller Center, University of Virginia, Washington, D.C.
This journal provides a forum for professionally informed commentary on issues affecting contemporary American politics. This includes but is not limited to issues engaging parties, elections, and political participation; the news media, interest groups, Congress, the Presidency, and the Courts; trends in public finance, presidential popularity, congressional productivity; in contemporary, historical, or comparative perspective.