What Factors Affect Presidential Leadership

Many factors shape presidential leadership and a president’s capacity to change the direction of American politics. In The Politics Presidents Make, Stephen Skowronek argues that by accurately locating a President in political time it is possible to obtain an understanding of the broad character of a President’s leadership position and a better insight into the opportunities and constraints on leadership that characterize a President’s term of office. In the nature of politics, the ability to define what politics is and have a majority sign on to that interpretation is the center of the politics presidents make. The capacity to define politics is a function of location in political time. There are four principle leadership categories, which …show more content…
Structural elements are factors beyond what presidents have the ability to change. In order for a President to be successful, they must understand this structural environment to see which opportunities are available to them. In order to achieve their desired outcomes, they must be able to navigate that environment effectively and efficiently. Structural constants are basic constitutional relationships that all presidents inherit when they take office. The Constitution is the most important structural constant Presidents have to consider. Structural variables are stable features presidents confront in office, but they are more susceptible to change over time. These include elements such as: is government divided or unified, is the business cycle good or bad, is it times of war or peace, was the election a landslide or a close election. This encompasses presidential leadership opportunities and constraints not shared across contiguous …show more content…
Secular time is defined as “the historical medium through which power structures have evolved” (Skowronek 30). In his theory, “secular time” tracks slow, gradual, and long-term political change along two separate political dimensions. One element is the organization of power within the presidency, which makes presidents more powerful over time (Skowronek). There are more resources available to the President therefore he gains more independence and power (Skowronek). However, on the other hand, the distribution of power in the political system as a whole allows there to be more points of opposition to presidential authority, making the president more vulnerable over time at any position in political time (Skowronek). “Institutional Thickening” is a constraint on reconstructive moments. Institutional thickening refers to more organizations and authorities being created in the executive branch (Skowronek 55). As institutional thickening occurs, the reconstructive capacities of opposition leaders weaken, because more has to be changed in order to break from the past (Skowronek 55). Nowadays, there are many more opposition points that exist to defend the status quo that a reconstructive president attempts to break free

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