Category Archives: Expansion of Presidential Power

Ash Center’s 10th Anniversary Series Provides Direction for the Next Ten Years

200x200logoFBshareIn May, the Ash Center concluded its Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series with presentations by the 2015 Innovations in American Government Award finalists. Local government officials, students, and scholars gathered with the Innovation Award finalists for a nuts and bolts conversation on fostering innovation in government. This model of conversation—one that brings together people and ideas unlikely to otherwise connect, in an environment that encourages candid conversation on important yet difficult issues, with an emphasis on finding a way forward—was a true reflection of the Challenges to Democracy series. This post explores some of the series’ highlights and how it will carry forth in the Ash Center’s upcoming work. Read more about all events in the series including associated multimedia such as podcasts, media coverage, photos, and video recordings.
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Filed under #Hack4Congress, All Checks, No Balance, All the King's Men, All The Way, Cities, Dollarocracy, Expansion of Presidential Power, Future of Social Movements, Heart of Robin Hood, Immigration & Citizenship, Inequality vs Democracy, Innovation, Launch Event with On Point, Lawrence, Massachusetts, Nation of Devils, Participation, Technology, Voting Rights

Revisiting the Global Prospects for Democracy and Democratization

RM1In this post, Ash Center Research Fellow Richa Mishra follows up on her February 2014 post, Reviewing the Global Prospects for Democracy and Democratization in 2014. In that widely-read review of recent articles and reports on democratic movements, public opinion and democracy promotion efforts, Mishra highlighted the importance of contextual nuance in understanding democratic twists and turns. Below, Mishra revisits her earlier post and offers a comprehensive update on the important themes of political freedom and civil liberties, electoral trends, government legitimacy, and citizen disenchantment. Continue reading

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Filed under All Checks, No Balance, Corruption, Expansion of Presidential Power, Future of Social Movements, Participation, Political Polarization, Representation

Frontiers of Democracy Research: Is Today’s Anti-Immigrant Sentiment Always Racially Motivated?

jason aIn his paper (When) Race Matters: The Effect of Immigrant Race and Place on Support for Immigration Restriction, Ash Center Post-Doctoral Democracy Fellow Jason Anastasopoulos explores triggers of “racial threat.” He posits that several factors, including skin color and geographic proximity, induce racial threat and suggests the long-term implications of these factors on support for anti-immigration laws. The paper is part of a series of Ash Center Workshops on Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity (WIRE), a bi-monthly seminar style forum for Harvard and Boston area researchers and students working on topics of immigration, race and ethnicity from a diverse variety of perspectives. This semester’s workshop themes include Experiments on Race, Immigration, and Public Policy; Economic Impacts of Immigration and Immigration Policy; and Ethics of Immigration and Immigration Policy. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, Frontiers of Research, Immigration & Citizenship, Representation

Congressional Gridlock and the Salience of Public Opinion

congress and prez cartoon largeLast fall, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation hosted a discussion exploring the (then) recent federal government shutdown and the ever-souring relationship between the President and Congress. The talk, part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, featured two renowned Harvard Kennedy School professors Thomas Patterson and David King. Patterson’s research explores the interaction between government and the media. King is a senior lecturer in Public Policy and chair of Harvard’s Bi-Partisan Program for Newly Elected Members of the U.S. Congress. Continue reading

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Filed under All Checks, No Balance, Expansion of Presidential Power, In the News, Media and Journalism, Political Polarization, Representation

Tech Experts from the Right and Left Agree: Digital Allows for Real Engagement, But is Anyone Listening Yet?

The Ash Center recently hosted a panel discussion with Matt Lira, Deputy Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Macon Phillips, Coordinator for the Bureau of International Information Programs at the U.S. Department of State. Moderated by Archon Fung, the discussion provided unique perspectives from both the Right and Left of the US political spectrum on how digital technology is affecting the political landscape. Lira and Phillips agreed upon the transformative role that digital platforms can play in both electoral politics and in more responsive governance, but we still have some time before digital technology reaches its potential as a tool to encourage public participation. Continue reading

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Filed under All Checks, No Balance, Expansion of Presidential Power, Participation, Political Polarization, Representation, Technology

Bryan Cranston Captures the Virtues and Vices of the Ultimate Politician: LBJ in “All the Way”

On October 6, 2013, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation collaborated with the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) on a performance of Robert Schenkkan’s political drama All the Way. The play focuses on Lyndon B. Johnson’s first year as President with a particular eye to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Bryan Cranston, fresh off of his Breaking Bad success, starred as Johnson. Following the performance, A.R.T. Artistic Director Ryan McKittrick moderated a discussion with actor Michael McKean, who played J. Edgar Hoover in the production, and Alex Keyssar, Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. The following post highlights elements of the conversation. Continue reading

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Filed under All The Way, Expansion of Presidential Power, In the News, Political Polarization

My Challenges: Oded Grajew, Founder of the World Social Forum and Sustainable Cities Program, Brazil

Asked to assess the health of democracy in the U.S. and compare it to his home country of Brazil, Oded Grajew comments on the power of business in a democracy to both negatively influence politics and to bring positive social change. Continue reading

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Filed under Corruption, Expansion of Presidential Power, My Challenges, Representation

Donald Rumsfeld as Performance Artist: A Conversation with Errol Morris

On February 26, 2014, the Ash Center hosted a screening of the new film The Unknown Known, followed by a spirited conversation with the filmmaker Errol Morris as part of its Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. After the screening, Morris took questions from an engaged audience in a large classroom on the Harvard Kennedy School campus. Moderated by Archon Fung, the conversation shifted between the making of Morris’ film, his impressions of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (the subject of the film), and dimensions of executive power. Below are three excerpts from the discussion. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, In the News, Media and Journalism

In the News: A Cure for Presidential Power Grabs?

On February 26, the Ash Center is hosting a screening of Errol Morris’ new film “The Unknown Known” and a discussion with the filmmaker, as part of its Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. One of the themes in the film, and in our series, is executive power.

Much has been written about the real threats posed by expanding presidential power, but in a recent commentary on Huffington Post, Yale University’s Bruce Ackerman suggests real solutions, which are more difficult to find. Continue reading

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The Unknown Known: Film Screening and Discussion Featuring Director Errol Morris

Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris to speak at Harvard Kennedy School on February 26, 2014 after a screening of his new documentary film The Unknown Known.

 

One of the challenges in the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series is the expansion of presidential power and the potential threats it poses to our democracy’s compact between the chief executive, Congress, the courts, and the people. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, Media and Journalism

All the King’s Men: Populism and Frustrating Presidents As Constants In U.S. Politics

On December 6, the Ash Center partnered with the Harvard Film Archive on a screening of the 1949 classic All the King’s Men directed by Robert Rossen. Rossen’s work is being featured in a film series at the Film Archive from November 29 to December 23, 2013. Ash Center Director Tony Saich, the Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, introduced the film with brief remarks capturing the novel, people and places that inspired All the King’s Men. Saich also highlighted compelling connections between democracy today and the life and times of the film’s muse, former Louisiana Governor Huey Long. If you enjoyed this film, you will surely enjoy reading Saich’s remarks reprinted below! Continue reading

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Filed under All the King's Men, Expansion of Presidential Power, Political Polarization

My Challenges: Karen Mills, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, 2009-2013

Asked to diagnose the health of American democracy, Administrator Mills is enthusiastic, seeing hope in recent bi-partisan efforts to jumpstart the economy by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, My Challenges, Political Polarization

All the King’s Men at Harvard Film Archive: Official Ash Center Poster

Join us for a screening of the 1949 classic All the King’s Men at Harvard Film Archive’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Directed by Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men was based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren chronicling the rise and fall of local politician Willie Stark (based loosely on a former governor of Louisiana named Huey Long). Continue reading

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Filed under All the King's Men, Expansion of Presidential Power, Future of Social Movements, Participation

First Chapter: Nation of Devils by Stein Ringen

Below is the first chapter from Oxford Professor Stein Ringen’s latest book, Nation of Devils: Democratic Leadership and the Problem of Obedience. It is the first post in an occasional series highlighting the first chapters of recent books by speakers and participants in the Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. Ringen spoke at the Ash Center on October 30 on the leadership challenges that presidents and prime ministers face. Foreshadowing the recent debacle around the federal health insurance website, he argued that legislation and policy-making is relatively straightforward compared to the arduous tasks of implementing that law and policy. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, First Chapter, Nation of Devils

In the News: The Snowden Leaks and the Public

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger contributes an interesting first-person perspective on the Snowden leaks to The New York Review of Books.

 

Lacking confidence in the courts or Congress, Snowden approached the other people who, in any modern democracy, are there to uncover truth, host debates, and hold people to account—journalists. When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers just over forty years ago he or his representatives went to The Washington Post and The New York Times. These days whistleblowers are spoiled for choice. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, In the News, Media and Journalism, Technology

Video: Watch October 30 Seminar on Getting Things Done in a Democracy

On October 30, the Ash Center welcomed Stein Ringen to discuss his new book Nation of Devils: Democratic Leadership and the Problem of Obedience. Ringen spoke on the leadership challenges that presidents and prime ministers face. Foreshadowing the recent debacle around the federal health insurance website, he argued that legislation and policy-making is relatively straightforward compared to the arduous tasks of implementing that law and policy. Continue reading

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In the News: Glenn Greenwald and the Future of Leaks

David Cay Johnston interviews Glenn Greenwald for Newsweek on his new work with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and the revolution coming to journalism.

 

Surveillance, in Greenwald’s view, destroys journalism because it allows the government to monitor the reporting being done on it. A world in which the government operates in private while the lives of individuals are exposed, is the appalling opposite of what America’s Founders intended and a healthy democracy demands. Continue reading

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Filed under Expansion of Presidential Power, In the News, Technology

Making a Connection to LBJ and the Fight for Civil Rights in 1963-64

 By Tim Glynn-Burke

 

The expansion of presidential power threatens our democracy’s compact between the chief executive, Congress, the courts… and We the People. One salient example of this challenge is in navigating between civil liberties and national security, between secrecy and transparency. While President Lyndon Baines Johnson is often remembered for his role in escalating Vietnam and associated debates over civil liberties, his administration’s first year belonged to Civil Rights—the subject of Robert Schenkkan’s play All The Way.

Presented though October 12 at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), All The Way reminds audiences that while our protector-in-chief, the President also has the potential to be a true changemaker. “We have already waited a hundred years,” LBJ argued, “and the time for waiting is gone.” Continue reading

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Filed under All The Way, Expansion of Presidential Power

Welcome to the Challenges to Democracy Blog

By Archon Fung and Tim Glynn-Burke

 

Democratic governance in the United States is being tested. Economic and political inequality, shaky checks and balances, unresolved immigration policy disagreements, the ambiguous effects of new digital technologies, and waning participation are just a few of today’s threats to American Democracy.

We regularly study these and other challenges here at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation—a distinctive mix of faculty, visiting scholars, and dedicated staff who teach courses, conduct research, and run programs at the leading edge of a broad array of disciplines.

Ten years ago an extraordinary gift from Roy and Lila Ash helped to launch the Ash Center. Roy and Lila had dedicated their lives to serving the public good in both business and government, as well as through extensive volunteer and philanthropic endeavors. Through these experiences, Roy came to view democracy as “fragile and in need of real and constant hands-on care.” Continue reading

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Filed under All The Way, Expansion of Presidential Power, Inequality vs Democracy, Launch Event with On Point