Scholars have long expressed concern that the ascendance of the modern
presidency since the New Deal and World War II, by hastening the decline
of political parties and fostering the expansion of the administrative
state, portended an era of chronically low public engagement and voter
turnout and an increasingly fractious and impotent national politics.
Presidents' inattentiveness to the demands of party-building and
grassroots mobilization, coupled with their willingness to govern through
administration, were seen as key obstacles to the revitalization of a
politics based in widespread political interest and collective
responsibility for public policy. This article argues that George W.
Bush's potent combination of party leadership and executive
administration, foreshadowed by Ronald Reagan's earlier efforts,
suggests the emergence of a new presidential leadership synthesis and a
“new” party system. This new synthesis does not promise a
return to pre-modern party politics; rather, it indicates a rearticulation
of the relationship between the presidency and the party system. The
erosion of old old-style partisan politics allowed for a more national and
issue-based party system to develop, forging new links between presidents
and parties. As the 2006 elections reveal, however, it remains to be seen
whether such parties, which are inextricably linked to executive-centered
politics and governance, can perform the critical function of moderating
presidential ambition and mobilizing public support for party principles
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