Barack Obama became president in 2009 on a wave of goodwill that seemingly promised the opportunity to launch a “new New Deal” in the face of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Despite significant legislative achievements in his first two years, however, the loss of control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections prefaced a new era of political polarization that limited prospects for advancing the 44th president’s agenda through enactment of new laws. Obama’s subsequent turn to unilateralism in the form of executive actions and presidential directives to advance his agenda has been a key element of his presidency. The Richard E Neustadt lecture of 2016 will consider the significance of unilateralism in assessing Obama’s legacy and what precedents it may establish for his successor.
Andrew Rudalevige is professor of political science at Bowdoin College, Maine. He was previously Walter E. Beach ’56 Distinguished Chair. He studies American political institutions, with an emphasis on the modern presidency and interbranch relations.
Rudalevige received his B.A. in 1989 from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1997 and 2000, respectively, from Harvard University’s Department of Government. From 1996 to 1999, he was Assistant Head Tutor in the undergraduate tutorial office for the Harvard Government Department and Assistant Senior Tutor in one of Harvard’s undergraduate residential houses.
His first book, Managing the President’s Program: Presidential Leadership and Legislative Policy Formulation, examines the formulation and success of presidents’ legislative programs in the postwar era from an informational transaction costs vantage. It was published by Princeton University Press and was awarded the American Political Science Association’s Neustadt Prize as best book on the presidency published in 2002. The New Imperial Presidency (University of Michigan Press), examines the post-Watergate growth of executive authority, not least in the ‘global war on terror,’ and was described by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., as ‘a grand sequel for my own The Imperial Presidency.’ More recently he has edited two volumes for CQ Press on contemporary presidential politics, with a variety of projects underway seeking to examine presidents’ ongoing efforts to control the executive bureaucracy.
You may also find his commentary on ongoing political events and their relation to political science research on The Monkey Cage blog.
Attendance is free of charge but registration is required. A drinks reception will be offered after the lecture.