Unitary Executive-ese (UE-ese) is about defining power and authority, and then this helps us determine an era or a nation’s legitimacy

What President Donald J. Trump’s supporters are referring to as his triumphant return from the hospital is all in his choice of a noun and a verb.  President Trump is dominant and he is all about “dominating.”  He is a zero-sum-game leader, not a collaborator or a facilitator.

Trump’s firsthand experience with COVID means he’s leading as a winner or a dominator, or a person who leads by destroying the enemy by energizing his base as a winner, not a loser.  The virus did not defeat him, and he is potentially immune.  Notice he says “dunno” a lot for deniability as he undermines both experts and members of his own political party within the institutions he leads, such as the Senate.

Leadership, as Machiavelli’s “Economy of Violence” shows, demands a “when.”  Put differently, this is an Alexis de Tocqueville notion of leadership stemming not from Democracy but rather from the Ancien Regime.  For example, the issue is not only who to guillotine but when. Guillotining Danton too late means you make a martyr and you will lose your own head, like Robespierre. 

Most Unitary Executive scholarship can be broken down into nouns and verbs.  Leadership is all about having and using power.  Leading can be done as a statesman or as a demagogue (read rhetoric).

To differentiate one UE-ese (read Unitary Executive-ese), look at the difference in the verbs and the nouns.

The 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries have different types of leaders in two places: read in private, or inside your own political institutions, on one hand, and on the other hand, when this fails, or you want more success, you lead by leaving D.C., or the “swamp,” and go directly public, as Samuel Kernell argued with “going public,” and get voters to follow you by changing public opinion and the political party that you lead by default (e.g. Rule of Law Republicans vs. Trumpsters or Trump Repubs or Law & Order Repubs, or deputizing state sheriffs, such as the white-supremacy groups he calls out). 

Put differently, Richard Neustadt is the man. Presidency literature is written more by men than any other type of qualitative AP scholarship and follows gendered language, as defined relatively by the late 19th, 20th and some could argue still the 21st-century conception of what it is to lead.  As novelist Stephen King would argue in On Writing, it is all in the verbs.  

Leadership Typology: What is power or leadership (a noun and a verb)?

Who, Where, What, Where, When, Why, and How? So Edwards believes in _______

Greenstein ______ Skowronek _________ Howell ________ et al

Cross-cut the who (in public or in your profession, which is akin to the liberal binary of private vs. public) with the when.

Richard Neustadt has two catch phrases— Inside Beltway (read professional reputation) + Public Outside Beltway (read public opinion, or whistle-stop tour to appeal to his constituencies or build his constituencies into a coalition).

What are Howell, Edwards, Greenstein, Skowronek, et al. (see reading we’re combining) nouns and verbs when it comes to leadership that by definition involves timing, or when to do something to maximize your power, authority and legitimacy?  Presidential eras help us understand the issue of legitimacy more than power and authority, which are easier to spot.  (Power means enforceability and authority means having the rules, regulations, laws, or simply SOPs to back you.  SOP is standard operating procedure.)

The President persuades (Neustadt) how? Tactics, strategies, facilitates . . ,

Who — what group is what I mean — who/where/when means what constituency?  (e.g. Senate, House, people in states, people who vote, people who follow political parties or like being independent of parties?)

white house
Photo by Aaron Kittredge on Pexels.com

This entry was posted in American Politics by Professor Ruth O'Brien. Bookmark the permalink.

About Professor Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Faculty/Core-Bios/Ruth-O-Brien)