‘I Alone Can Fix It’ Donald Trump, the Administrative Presidency, and Hazards of Executive-Centered Partisanship

Sidney M. Milkis 1  and Nicholas Jacobs 1
  • 1 University of Virginia, VA, USA
Sidney M. Milkis
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Virginia, VA, USA
  • Email
  • Further information
  • Sidney M. Milkis is the White Burkett Miller Professor in the Department of Politics and Faculty Associate in the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
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and Nicholas Jacobs
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Virginia, VA, USA
  • Email
  • Further information
  • Nicholas Jacobs is a PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia.
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar

Abstract

Eight months into his presidency, most depict the Trump administration as being mired in chaos and frenzy. Such a perspective, however, overlooks the aggressive pursuit of Trump’s campaign agenda through unilateral administrative action. Far from “deconstructing the administrative state” as promised, Trump has embraced the levers of presidential discretion and power inherent within the modern executive office. Although Trump cannot lay claim to any major legislative achievement early in his presidency, we argue that there is plenty he can take credit – or blame – for in fulfilling his campaign promises. Moreover, far from using administrative power to simply roll back his predecessor’s programmatic goals, the new president has sought to redeploy state resources in ways that will further entrench traditional commitments of the Republican Party, while simultaneously redefining them to mirror the president’s personal policy objectives. This is not a new development. Rather it is the culmination of a decades-long reorientation within both major parties: the rise of an executive centered party-system. As such, Trump – despite his seeming idiosyncrasies – might further reinforce the centrality of executive actions as a way to overcome both parties’ institutional weakness and ideological polarization.

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