Just as this op-ed by Dr. Robert Alexander was published by the Plain Dealer, Mitt Romney announced that he would be dropping out of the 2016 presidential race, causing some to speculate that he was clearing the way for Jeb Bush. However, will the Bush-Clinton 2016 race materialize? If so, will we go back to the future with a President Bush or Clinton? According to Dr. Alexander, “Instead of going back to the future, those who run the farthest from Washington will likely cross their party’s finish line first.” Dr. Alexander’s research on the electoral college and presidential electors has him well-placed to make such a prediction, noting that “What members of the Electoral College think matters” and that “while many of these partisans would like to see Clinton or Bush at the top of their party’s tickets, we are decidedly in an anti-Washington era.” Learn how the electoral college and presidential electors affect who becomes the president of the United States by reading the highly praised Presidential Electors and the Electoral College (part of the PIPPA series by political scientists Scott Frisch and Sean Kelly).
The following is a commentary on President Obama’s reaction to the Ferguson situation by Ryan Barilleaux and Jewerl Maxwell, authors of Tough Times for the President, who discuss the lessons which can be gleaned from past presidents.
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The current civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, has led many to recall the racial animosity that spread throughout the United States in 1967. In his text Guns or Butter: The Presidency of Lyndon Johnson, political scientist Irving Berstein argued, “Not since the 1850s had a chief executive confronted domestic turmoil on this scale” (p. 410). As explained in Tough Times for the President, twenty-four racially motivated riots spread throughout twenty-three cities in 1967. In July 1967, President Johnson responded with Executive Order 11364, which resulted in 4,700 federal troops being sent to Detroit and Executive Order 11365, which established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (commonly referred to as the Kerner Commission) to investigate race riots across the country.
Not to diminish the current situation in Ferguson, but the numbers referenced above alone illustrate how President Johnson encountered a significantly greater adverse set of circumstances than President Obama presently faces. As such, it should come as no surprise that President Obama’s response has been much more subdued. Thus far, President Obama’s response has largely been rhetorical, but he now must choose if direct federal action is necessary. As we have argued, “Presidents must decide when and how to apply their power resources to gain leverage in specific contexts, and those decisions are made by weighing the risks, obstacles, and opportunities of action or inaction” (p. 275). As the nation’s first African American president, President Obama no doubt feels the pressure to respond appropriately in the wake of racial unrest, but he also must realize the need for “situational leverage” as we outlined in Tough Times for the President. The current situation is one in which violence has not spread throughout the country, and at a time when immigration reform, violence in the Middle East, and a major midterm election is about to take place. Consequently, the present political and social climate illustrates that presidential power is indeed a matter of situational leverage. President Obama’s leverage is a function of constitutional/legal, institutional, political, and personal resources that can be applied to his goals, but he continues to weigh the risks, obstacles, and opportunities presented to him in the current context.
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This book is in the Cambria Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy in America (PIPPA) Series by Scott Frisch and Sean Kelly.
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Cambria Press authors and series editors Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q. Kelly will be at the WPSA annual conference in Seattle next week. Discussing politics to the extreme, their WPSA panels will be exciting ones that attendees won’t want to miss! Their award-winning book Jimmy Carter and the Water Wars, as well as their highly praised book Doing Archival Research in Political Science are just a few of their books. In addition to their own works, Dr. Frisch and Dr. Kelly have also helped bring forth other important books in political science with their Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy in America book series. The series has produced books which have earned excellent journal reviews, including WPSA’s program chair Victoria Farrar-Myers‘s book with Michael Genovese, Corruption and American Politics. Here are just a few of the titles in the series:
- Presidential Electors and the Electoral College: An Examination of Lobbying, Wavering Electors, and Campaigns for Faithless Votes by Robert M. Alexander
- Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants by Lara M. Brown
- Saving American Elections: A Diagnosis and Prescription for a Healthier Democracy by Anthony Gierzynski
These titles will be at the Cambria Press display in the WPSA exhibit hall. Visit the display to browse these great books and don’t forget to pick up an order form with a 40% discount for you and your library. See the Cambria Press ad in the WPSA program too for the discount code! Cambria Press will also giving out a limited supply of complimentary Political-Science Research Matters bags, which were made specially in response to the NSF funding cuts. Pick one up at the Cambria Press display and carry it around at (and after) the conference to drive home the message that political-science research matters!
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#WPSA2014 #PoliticalScience #AmericanPolitics
Cambria Press author and series coeditor Sean Kelly has been weighing in on the spending fights in Washington, DC. On the eve of the temporary resolution of the shutdown and debt crisis Kelly was invited by Al Jazeera to offer his analysis of the likelihood of default. Prior to the resolution of the debt crisis Kelly said:
“No one should underestimate the possibility that the debt ceiling will not be raised, and that the country will default on its debt obligations. The Republican Party is so hopelessly internally fractured at this point that no single policy alternative can gain enough support to produce a partisan majority on the House floor. This crisis may come down to a choice for John Boehner: 1) sacrifice his Speakership—by moving a debt limit increase that fails to attract a majority of Republicans, passing with Democratic support and ending in an anti-Boehner revolt within the GOP—or, 2) sacrifice the country by allowing the debt ceiling to shatter, causing the country to stop paying its bills.”
In his view the extreme wing of the Republican Party was putting immense pressure on Speaker Boehner; he said, “They’re pushing Boehner to the point where he is going to have to decide if he is going to take one for the country or take one for the team.”
What does he think in the wake of the resolution? Dr. Kelly’s response was that: “The fundamentals have not changed. The Tea Party faction of the Republican Party remains immune to calls for compromise. I think the Republican mainstream hoped to ‘teach them a lesson’ about what it takes to get things done in Washington, and that it was pointless to challenge Obamacare by using the Continuing Resolution and Debt Ceiling. Tea Party Republicans did not learn a thing from the shutdown and debt fight. Since this is a short-term deal they see an opportunity to get another bite at the apple after the first of the year. I suspect that we will be back here in three months witnessing the same fight. And Tea Party members won’t pay a price for it—their constituents are glad they took on the President and the establishment; Republicans who compromised are being criticized for being RINOs [Republican In Name Only].”
Dr. Kelly’s publications include Jimmy Carter and the Water Wars (CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title) and Doing Archival Research in Political Science. Books in the Cambria Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy in America Series he coedits with Dr. Scott Frisch have also earned outstanding reviews.
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What will President Obama do now in the face of the US government #shutdown? Will he act like his predecessor “Bill Clinton, who stared down the 104th Congress in a government shutdown and demonized Newt Gingrich in the process”? (Ryan J. Barilleaux and Jewerl Maxwell, Tough times for the President: Political Adversity and the Sources of Presidential Power [Amherst, N.Y.: Cambria Press, 2012], 19). In fact, some similarities can be seen given that “[t]he results of the ‘showdown’ between Clinton and the 104th Congress were a partial shutdown of the federal government, record lows in congressional concurrence with the president, and various actions to assert Clinton’s political relevance and autonomy from legislative constraints” (ibid., 56).
This must-read book by Dr. Barilleaux and Dr. Maxwell (published just last year) is, as Dr. Raymond Tatalovich, professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago praises, “the perfect book for our times.”
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This book is in the Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy in America book series by Scott Frisch and Sean Kelly.
Professors, if you would like to use this for your class, refer your librarian to the Cambria Press Desk Copy Plus Program that helps you get free versions for your students!
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