A Quote to Ponder
“Given his unavoidable institutional situation, a president bids fair to become the focus for whatever exaggerated expectations his supporters may harbor. They are prone to think that he has more power than he really has or should have and may sometimes be politically mobilized against any adversaries who bar his way. The interaction between a popular president and the crowd acclaiming him can generate fear among his opponents and a tense political climate.” — Juan Linz in his now-classic 1990 article in the Journal of Democracy entitled “The Perils of Presidentialism” (Page 62).
The article was written as Latin America was democratizing in the late 1980s (with constitutions, both old and new, that borrowed quite a bit from the US charter, especially in terms of separation of powers). Linz noted at the time that “the only presidential democracy with a long history of constitutional continuity is the United States” (51-52). He went on to add, in what is an ominous observation given the current state of US politics, that “political parties, particularly in socially and ideologically polarized countries, generally exacerbates, rather than moderates, conflicts between the legislative and executive” (53-54).
Of course, it is hard to read the article now, with the US parties substantially polarized, and not see many of his concerns as being salient in the US right now.
Indeed, the quote at the top of the post that led me to write this post clearly applies to Trump, but could equally apply to Sanders.