The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline Into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal
"The American presidency is not what it once was. Elections have become a popularity contest and the president has become the ostensible mouthpiece of the American people. Stephen F. Knott contends that the presidency of popular consent, or the majoritarian presidency, was not intended by Madison, Washington, Hamilton, or almost all the key framers, but more importantly, he argues that this presidency led to precisely what Madison and Hamilton feared most: the rise of demagogic presidencies. The Lost Soul of the American Presidency traces the history of this decline in the nation's executive office that has culminated in the election of Donald Trump. Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson re-founded the office and opened the door to this demagoguery, and their task was completed by a series of twentieth-century presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon. The price of this demagogic presidency has been paid by minorities of all sorts -- racial, religious, political, and economic. The nation was thus deprived of the president's intended role as unifying head of state, and his constitutional role as neutral enforcer of the laws of the land. But we also have examples of presidents who resisted pandering to public opinion and appealed to the better angels of our nature, notably John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln, who represent the 'lost soul' of presidential leadership that we can still recover"