No Blank Check: The Origins and Consequences of Public Antipathy towards Presidential Power
Concerns about unaccountable executive power have featured recurrently in political debates from the American founding to today. For many, presidents’ use of unilateral power threatens American democracy. No Blank Check advances a new perspective: Instead of finding Americans apathetic towards how presidents exercise power, it shows the public is deeply concerned with core democratic values. Drawing on data from original surveys, innovative experiments, historical polls, and contexts outside the United States, the book highlights Americans’ skepticism towards presidential power. This skepticism results in a public that punishes unilaterally minded presidents and the policies they pursue. By departing from existing theories of presidential power which acknowledge only institutional constraints, this timely and revealing book demonstrates the public’s capacity to tame the unilateral impulses of even the most ambitious presidents. Ultimately, when it comes to exercising power, the public does not hand the president a blank check.