The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump
Paul Rutledge and Chapman Rackaway
The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump explores the myriad ways in which candidate, and then president, Trump exemplifies a nontraditional version of US politics. As a candidate he eschewed the norms of campaign procedure, and, in the worst cases, human decency, in favor of a rough-and-tumble, take-no-prisoners approach that appealed to those who felt marginalized in a changing society. Though the constitutional design of the presidency has seen political outsiders rise to the office of the presidency before and maintain stability, never before has a candidate so alien to political norms risen to the highest office. The presidency of Donald Trump represents the most significant challenge in the history of the United States to whether the constitutional design and boundaries on the office of the presidency can survive the test of an occupant who is antithetical to everything in its past. The editors and their contributors highlight how Trumps actions present direct challenges to the US presidency that have fully exposed and exacerbated long-held problems with checks and balances and led to questions regarding the potential for permanent effects of the Trump presidency on the Oval Office.
The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump is organized into three sections. The first section analyzes the Trump presidency in the context of US elections, including Trump as a candidate, the 2016 presidential election, the 2018 midterm elections, and the right-wing populism that helped him get elected. The second section focuses on the how the election results and the associated political context have affected President Trumps opportunity to govern and the effect Trump has had on US political institutions: the legislative branch, the federal courts, the bureaucracy, the media, and organized interest groups. The final section examines Trump and public policy, with a focus on his disruptive version of foreign policy and his use of the domestic budget as a political football, such as the constitutionally questionable sequestration and redirection of budgetary funds provided for defense to the building of the border wall and his penchant for deficit spending that was kicked into overdrive with the COVID-19 stimulus package, making Trump the greatest deficit spender in the history of the republic.
“How unusual has the Trump presidency really been? Editors Paul E. Rutledge and Chapman Rackaway tackle this crucial question in The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump, which features over a dozen well-crafted chapters focused on Trump’s rhetoric, his use of Twitter, his interactions with Congress, and much more. With its balanced, evidence-based approach, this book is required reading for anyone seeking a top-notch scholarly analysis of the Trump administration.”
—Jeffrey Crouch, coauthor of The Unitary Executive Theory: A Danger to Constitutional Government
“The editors and contributors have done an outstanding job at cutting through the polemics and making sense of the Trump presidency. For a serious and level-headed analysis of the Trump era and how it fits into the larger framework of modern presidential studies, this volume is highly recommended.”
—Mark J. Rozell, coauthor of Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy, and Accountability, Fourth Edition, Revised and Updated
“Paul E. Rutledge and Chapman Rackaway have collected the work of a notable array of scholars of American politics to outline the contours of the Trump presidency. Treating the Trump administration as a serious challenge to the nation’s constitutional design and traditional democratic norms and practices, the volumes chapters tease out institutional elements that remain strong enough to resist that challenge as well as those that have bent or broken because of it. The result is a volume of interest to scholars and students of US history, the American presidency, and the interactions between them.”
—Mary E. Stuckey, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, Pennsylvania State University
“The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump is an unusually comprehensive assessment of this most unusual of presidents. This collection of perspectives covers a wide variety of subjects including Trump’s popular appeals and mass politics, his relations with American political and governing institutions, and the character of his public policy. These subject-matter chapters are set off by an excellent introduction and conclusion from the editors. The book is a valuable effort to make sense of this unusual presidency and the extent to which it may leave an indelible mark on the American polity and American political culture. The chapters within provide systematic evidence and clarity of analysis that both reinforce and dispel impressionistic assumptions regarding the Trump presidency. All in all, Rutledge and Rackaway’s book provides a terrific early take on the Trump presidency and is very much worth the attention of presidency scholars and of anyone trying to make sense of the Trump phenomenon.”
—Bert A. Rockman, coeditor of The Obama Legacy
“An all-in-one edited volume, this book thoroughly and expertly analyzes the politics and policies of Donald Trump’s unorthodox presidency. Divided into three parts, the volume appropriately begins with the campaigns and elections that have involved Trump. It starts with an analysis of his 2016 campaign’s style and structure and ends with a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The two chapters in between, one by Wayne Steger on Trump’s populism and the other by Russell Brooker on Trump’s racial appeals, are particularly illuminating in terms of understanding why a portion of the American electorate not only enthusiastically gravitated toward Trump in 2016 but also why his supporters have largely stayed attached to him throughout his presidency. The middle section of the volume focuses on Trump’s governance—how he worked (or didn’t) with Congress, the bureaucracy, and the courts. Excellent chapters by Paul Rutledge and Rebecca Eissler set the stage and provide context for understanding how disruptive Trump’s presidency has been to the ways of Washington. The chapters that follow each note that Trump has achieved some of his aims but that he has not been as successful as he promised his supporters he would be—in large part because he continued to focus his efforts on campaigning (mostly via Twitter) rather than on understanding the political norms and the institutional structures that shape policy outcomes. Also, the chapters by Burdett Loomis on lobbying and by Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha and Joshua Montgomery both unnervingly reveal some of the areas where Trump’s unorthodox presidency may exert lasting damage. The final part of the book details Trump’s policy agenda and the myriad ways his unique orientation toward many of the traditional conservative stances have altered domestic and foreign policy. Overall, this is an edited volume worth having if one is looking to understand not only Donald Trump’s presidency but also his expansive impact and potential legacy on the American national political system.”
—Lara M. Brown, director and associate professor, Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University, and author of Amateur Hour: Presidential Character and the Question of Leadership
“While Donald Trump did not win a second term, we will be grappling with the aftereffects of his presidency for years to come. Each chapter of this engaging collection helps us do so by illuminating how a different aspect of the Trump years fits into our existing theories and knowledge of the presidency. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand the long-term impact the last four years will have on American politics.”
—Christopher J. Galdieri, associate professor of politics, Saint Anselm CollegeSee fewer reviews...