The President, Party Politics, and Constitutional Development

Sidney M. Milkis and Jesse H. Rhodes

in The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542628
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

The President, Party Politics, and Constitutional Development

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Institutions



This article explores the troubled relationship between the presidency and the political parties. The modern presidency became part of the living constitution as the guardian of new rights. Ronald Reagan was the first modern president to pose fundamental challenges to received government arrangements, a stance that required the support of a national, programmatic Republican Party. His efforts to square the institution of the modern presidency with the demands of party leadership were only partially successful. The challenge of remaking American politics ex cathedra would be cast in further relief during the presidency of George W. Bush. Bush's unprecedented efforts to strengthen the national Republican organization demonstrated the enormous potential of the modern presidency as an instrument of party building. Barack Obama's organizational efforts were modeled after the techniques that Republicans had pioneered.

Keywords: Ronald Reagan; George W. Bush; Barack Obama; Republican Party; modern presidency; party leadership

Article.  11435 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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