The Presidency 32

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2.6          Giving citizens a role in electing presidents also gave presidents a political power base.  Under the original intentions of the framers, presidential power was essentially technocratic, based on Electoral College perceptions of merit and the specific authorities conferred by the Constitution.  From 1828 onward, however, presidents could claim substantial political backing in the form of the voters who elected them. This change allowed presidents to assert themselves against Congress and other political leaders.  Presidents can use their voter base to become national leaders and agenda-setters, either holding them up as representing a mandate or by mobilizing them for or against various Congressional policies.  With that end in mind, the White House has gradually built up rather formidable communications capacities to reach the voters through a variety of means directly.

Image: Franklin D. Roosevelt, by Elias Goldensky

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