POLC83H3 Final Exam Study Guide.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Renan Levine

POLC83H3 Final Exam Study Guide There are two sections One worth 60 is shortish answer the second part is a choice of two essay questions On the shortish answer section you will also have a choice of which questions to selectShort AnswerTopics that may appear in the shortanswer section includeTwoPresidencies ThesisThe Demise of the Two Presidencies by Richard FleisherThe Two Presidencies thesis debate focuses on whether the president is more successful on foreign policy than on domestic policyOriginal Presentation of the Thesis by WildavskyWildavsky 1966 argued that the president has greater success in Congress on foreign and defense policy than on domestic issuesMuch of the subsequent debate on the twopresidency thesis has focused on whether the gap between foreign and domestic success has diminished over timeThe original formulation argues that the president is not only more successful on foreign policy than on domestic policy but the president also wins a large majority of foreign policy issuesWildavsky seeks to provide general support for this thesis with an analysis of CQs presidential box scores This analysis shows that presidents win about 70 of the time on foreign and defense policy compared with about 40 on domestic policyDuring this period between the end of World War II and the buildup in Vietnam in the mid1960s The president was expected to dominate formation of foreign and defense policy because he had several advantages over Congress in that arena that were absent in the domestic arena oFirst the immediacy of the cold war and nuclear threat required strict secrecy to protect the security of the nation The need for secrecy gave the president a tremendous information advantage over members of Congress oSecond during the postWorld War II period there was general agreement in both parties of the need to vigilantly guard against Soviet adventurism oThird these considerations led to the perception that the United States should speak with a singular voice on the world stage The president was best suited to express that voice In this context there was a widely held belief that congressional assertiveness might undermine the US position in the world and therefore damage national security This belief combined with a set of shared preferences about the ultimate goals of American foreign policy produced bipartisan support for the president in the area of foreign policy makingNew Findings on the Two Presidency Thesis by Fleisher Number of changes in Congress that would explain a decline in the gap since the 1970s These include a breakdown of the bipartisan consensus after Vietnam and Watergate Reforms in Congress that expanded information sources available to members and reduced the presidents informational advantageReforms in Congress that altered the types of issues that get to the floor for a voteMore ChangesParty voting also increased in the SenateIn the American system of separation of powers elevated partisanship makes majority presidents more successful and minority presidents less successfulIdeology strongly influenced voting on foreign and defense issues in Congress during the late 1970s and 1980sThe bipartisan consensus underlying the twopresidency thesis began to break down as liberals battled conservatives over the direction of American foreign and defense policy So long as parties in Congress contained significant numbers of crosspressured members who had ideologies outside their partys mainstream ie conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans a strong ideological influence on foreign policy voting allowed minority presidents all Republicans during this period to put together winning coalitions based on ideology even if they failed to attract many votes from the opposition party baseAlthough members of the opposition party base may continue to support the president more on foreign policy than on domestic policy the level of foreign policy support is likely to be much lower than anticipated by the twopresidency thesisForeign and defense roll calls are those dealing with such issues as foreign aid trade treaties weapons systems and warrelated measuresFigure 1 Minority presidents have a consistent pattern of greater success on foreign policy than on domestic policy The relative presidential advantage on foreign policy appears in both chambers but the gap is greater in the Senate than in the HouseAlthough the twopresidency gap remains for minority presidents the level of success on foreignpolicy votes has declined considerably in recent Congresses especially in the HouseThe twopresidency gap remains throughout the period because success on domestic issues fell even moreFigure 2 Majority presidents do not experience the two presidencies phenomenon as consistently as do minority presidents In most Congresses controlled by the presidents party there is little or no twopresidencies gap because majority presidents have high success rates on both foreign and domestic votesThus there have been significant changes in the twopresidency phenomenon over time Although minority presidents continue to win more on foreign policy than on domestic policy the absolute level of success has declined considerably in recent yearsThe recent decline in the levels of success on foreign policy corresponds to the emergence of a highly charged partisan atmosphere in CongressA good indicator of partisan behavior in Congress is the frequency that the party bases exhibit unified behaviorWe define unified behavior as 75 or more of a faction voting togetherAlthough unified partisan behavior on domestic issues has also increased over time and occurs more frequently than on foreign votes the twopresidencies gap has narrowedFindings We find that the level of success for minority party presidents on foreign and defense votes has declined to such low levels that it leads us to question the continued utility of trying to explain presidential congressional relations across the policy areas in terms of a two presidencies model Although the behavior of the opposition party and its leader continues to be somewhat less partisan on foreign policy than on domestic policy behavior on foreign and defense issues since the second Reagan administration has become highly partisan In recent Congresses the opposition party base unified against the president with great frequency and opposition party leaders typically opposed the president on foreign policy mattersPresident Not To Be TrustedThe Vietnam War produced an atmosphere in Congress in which members no longer trusted the president to prosecute foreign policy without significant involvement from the legislative branch Although some of the isolationist tendencies produced by the Vietnam experience have faded the legacy that Congress has not only the right but the
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