The Presidency 44

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2.18.          Populist or partisan presidents, backed by well-organized followers, sometimes feel motivated to weaken constitutional constraints.  The presence of an opposition Congress or a divided Congress will frustrate presidents and their followers.  History shows that such situations have sometimes motivated ambitious presidents and their staff to exercise more power with more autonomy and sometimes with less accountability. For example, President Reagan managed to acquire substantial regulatory powers through the skillful use of executive orders despite facing a divided Congress in his first six years and then an opposition Congress in his last two years. President Obama made similar use of executive orders when he was confronted with an opposition Congress in his last two years in office.

Image: Barack Obama. The White House.

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