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Democracy Matters - Episode 33: The American Presidency in Trouble and What Voters Can Do


 
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SUMMARY: “The American is in trouble,” says CBS News correspondent John Dickerson in his new book, The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency. “It is overburdened, misunderstood, an almost impossible job to do.”


“The American presidency is in trouble,” says CBS News correspondent John Dickerson in his new book, The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency. “It is overburdened, misunderstood, an almost impossible job to do.” 

In this episode we talk with John, who has spent much of his career both studying and covering the American presidency and presidential elections. His book is a thoughtful, rich analysis that combines scholarship, primary source documents, interviews and first hand experiences to help us better understand why the presidency as an institution is broken and what this implies for democracy and governance. John shows us how expansive the presidency has become from what was initially intended for the institution and its responsibilities, and why no individual president can possibly live up to the expectations for the office. We also discuss the 2020 election and whether President Donald J. Trump has changed and reinvented the presidency.

Episode Links: 

Discussion Questions: 

  • What are some of the key factors that contributed to expanding public expectations and demands of the presidency? 
  • How has the expansion of presidential power and the presidency changed American democracy?
  • What is the responsibility of Congress, of the Supreme Court and of the news media to restore checks and balances outlined in the Constitution through James Madison’s ideas of separation and sharing of powers? 
  • Why should and how can the public change its expectations of the presidency? 
  • How as President Donald J. Trump changed and reinvented the office, role and style of the presidency?
  • What role should presidents have in solving partisan sclerosis? 
  • Does the modern presidential campaign adequately test candidates? 
  • What can journalists do differently to cover elections and the presidency?

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Published: Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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