Presidential Power And The Modern Presidents

By Phar Kim Beng
Strategic Pan Indo-Pacific Arena
Twitter: @indo_pan

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Despite the power of the American presidency, little studies were done on it in any systematic manner, until Richard E. Neustadt, a historian at Harvard University, began to studying the subject with careful deliberation. Among others, the key conclusion was this: the power of the American presidents come from the ability to persuade. Hence, the American presidents are most effective and powerful, in terms of his “speech acts”.

This is different from the president’s numerous speeches. Indeed, “speech acts” confer the authority and aspiration to appeal to the higher consciousness of the American electorate. While this is all useful and appealing in understanding the US presidency from George Washington to Barack Obama, one has to wonder if the same can be said of President-elect Biden ?

Trump tends to use the podium as a bully-pulpit. It is from there he excoriates and scolds the press, beyond using it to extol his own virtues. Given the narcissistic side to the Trump phenomenon, one must now wonder if what Richard E. Neustadt says will still hold true ? President elect Joe Biden seeks to cultivate his audience to be psychologically less averse to rejecting it. In the recently, concluded election, he flipped five Republican states, and received 75 million votes, the highest turn out in the electoral history of the United States; this despite the fact that President Trump received five million more votes from the previous election to reach a high water mark of 70 million votes.

Come what may, the world suffered immeasurablely when confronted with an American president, invariably Trump, who was the manifestation of the “white-lash”. As the first president from the far right, the institutional underpinnings of the US came nearly all undone. Before President elect Biden is the 46th President proper, one will now not what President Trump will seek to do between now and January 20 2021, the date of inauguration to make the transition difficult on President elect Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris. This book did not anticipate the antics of Trump or the triumph of President elect Biden. But it is nevertheless a good place to start to understand the person in the Oval Office.

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