This is Jeff Berry. At Tufts University where I teach, I've always enjoyed my course on the American Presidency. There is so much about American government that comes together on this topic.
In The Challenge of Democracy we emphasize the president's role as a leader. Although the Founders designed a Constitution with three co-equal branches, the president has an advantage in providing leadership. There are 535 members of Congress but only one president.
As you wind your way through the pages of Chapter 12 you will see that presidential leadership is considered from a variety of different perspectives. We begin with the President's leadership of the executive branch--the entire national bureaucracy--which is an enormous, sprawling and complex entity. We also look at presidential character--the personality attributes that contribute to or detract from effective leadership.
Given the strong emphasis in The Challenge of Democracy on pluralism and majoritarianism, it will come as no surprise to you that this theme arises in this chapter as well. We focus particularly on majoritarianism in the context of presidential leadership of the public. The president comes into office just having won an election--and elections are instruments of majoritarian democracy as they legitimate the choice of one set of voters over the others. Once in office the president must continually try to shape public opinion, another instrument of majoritarian democracy.
Presidents work hard to keep their personal popularity up as their poll numbers--the proportion of Americans who believe the president is doing a good job--is one way to convince members of Congress, the media, and all other Americans that a majority of the public supports their policies. They work hard to convince Americans that the specific policies they propose are the right ones.
But influencing public opinion is not easy, even for a president. Chapter 12 details the difficulties presidents have in building and maintaining public support. Tough job being president of the United States.