Continuity Trumps Change: The First Year of Trump’s Administrative Presidency

Continuity Trumps Change: The First Year of Trump’s Administrative Presidency

by Rachel Augustine Potter, University of Virginia, Andrew Rudalevige, Bowdoin College, Sharece Thrower, Vanderbilt University, and Adam L. Warber, Clemson University

From campaign rhetoric to tweets, President Trump has positioned himself as “disrupter in chief,” often pointing to administrative action as the avenue by which he is leaving a lasting mark. However, research on the administrative presidency begins with the premise that all presidents face incentives to use administrative tools to gain substantive or political traction. If, as this article suggests, Trump’s institutional standing differs little from his recent predecessors, then how much of the Trump presidency represents a change from past norms and practices? How much represents continuity, or the perennial dynamics of a far-from-omnipotent executive in an ongoing world of “separate institutions sharing powers” (Neustadt 1990, 29)? To answer this, we tracked presidential directives and regulatory policy during Trump’s first year in office. We found evidence of continuity, indicating that in its use of administrative tactics to shape policy, the Trump White House largely falls in line with recent presidencies.

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