Imperial Presidency

FRQ #1, Concept Application.


The following is from a book excerpt on the presidency:

“The imperial presidency, created by wars abroad, has made a bold bid for power at home. The belief of the Nixon Administration in its own mandate and its own virtue, compounded by its conviction that the republic has been in mortal danger from internal enemies, has produced an unprecedented concentration of power in the White House and an unprecedented attempt to transform the presidency of the Constitution into a plebiscitary presidency. If this transformation is carried through, the President, instead of being accountable every day to Congress and public opinion, will be accountable every four years to the electorate. Between elections, the President will be accountable only through impeachment and will govern, as much as he can, by decree. The expansion and abuse of presidential power constitute the underlying issue, the issue that Watergate has raised to the surface, dramatized, and made politically accessible.”

—Historian Arthur Schlesinger, The Atlantic Monthly, 1973


After reading the passage, respond to A, B, and C below.

(A) Describe the development of the presidency in the context of the above passage.

(B) Other than the president’s war power or commander-in-chief authority, what has caused the changes you described in (A)?

(C) In the context of this statement, explain how Congress can affect the trend described in the passage?


Photo/Image: Arthur Schlesinger, NBC Television, Public domain