By Dana D. Nelson

Throughout our background, americans were at the same time encouraged and seduced via the yank presidency and anxious concerning the misuse of presidential power—from the time of Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR to Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush—as a grave hazard to the us. In undesirable for Democracy, Dana D. Nelson is going past blaming specific presidents for jeopardizing the fragile stability of the structure to argue that it's the workplace of the presidency itself that endangers the good American test. The emotional impulse to determine the president as a hero, Nelson contends, has ceded our skill to perform executive by way of the folk and for the folks. She indicates that workout democratic rights has turn into idealized as—and woefully constrained to—the act of balloting for the president. This pressing publication finds the futility of putting all of our hopes for the long run within the American president and encourages electorate to create a politics of deliberation, motion, and company. Arguing for a go back of the stability of power—both symbolically and in practice—to all of the branches of presidency, Nelson finally calls on american citizens to alter our personal path and picture a democracy that we, the folks, lead together.

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Extra info for Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People

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Washington’s mythical status is such a commonplace that we don’t often question the mythological work of such a story. What does it mean for Weems to create a president at once so impenetrable and so sentimentally permeable, so hard and yet so soft? It seems that Weems was reworking the Elizabethan doctrine of the king’s two bodies to negotiate the newer tensions of representative democracy in the United States. If, as historian Michael Paul Rogin summarizes, the doctrine worked in two directions, making the political realm “independent of the body mortal who governed it” and at the same time allowing the officeholder to absorb the realm into his “personal identity,” the president’s hard and soft bodies HOW THE PRESIDENT BECOMES A SUPERHERO 41 offered a symbolic solution to some central political conundrums facing the United States under the Constitution: How do you have both unity (what the nation was built on) and political difference (what democracy depends on)?

In the evening Washington attended dinner parties with the local elite, at which the standard thirteen national toasts would be offered. Such celebrations encouraged citizens to set aside political disagreement in a unifying exercise of national feeling, where carefully coordinated theatrics gave participants a chance to experience citizenship as the thrill of spectatorship. But these civic exercises could not quell swelling political disagreement during the 1790s. And indeed, political opposition staked its public expression by modifying federalist celebrations: their demonstrations featured the people as democracy’s actors instead of the president.

Democracy is a project for independence, but it also depends and can thrive on our interdependence. Drawing on energizing examples of open systems projects—on the Internet and in activist culture—this chapter asks readers to reimagine and retake democracy as a project we lead together, amid and out of the synergy of our many differences. It asks readers to invest in a democratic project in self-governance that recovers the often forgotten, crucial middle clause of Lincoln’s resonant formulation: of the people, by the people, for the people.

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