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Stephen Skowronek's Cycles of US-President History

This is the place to discuss the past, its study, and those who study it. Discussion about events that happened less than twenty years ago should go go in Politics instead.
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Stephen Skowronek's Cycles of US-President History

Post by lpetrich » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:10 pm

Stephen Skowronek | Department of Political Science, (Wikipedia)Stephen Skowronek
What Time Is It? Here’s What the 2016 Election Tells Us About Obama, Trump, and What Comes Next, Three Sources: There's No Time like Political Time, The Cycles of Presidential History: Where Are We Now? (Hannah Solomon-Strauss), The Politics that People Make:, The Presidency in the Political Order, Presidential leadership from Presidents Washington to Bush and beyond: assessing presidents within the cycled circumstances of institutional expectations - viewcontent.cgi

SS has proposed that the US Presidency runs in cycles with four main sorts of presidencies: sorts that he calls Reconstruction, Articulation, Disjunction, and Preemption.

The cycle begins with Reconstruction -- a president reshaping the political landscape for the next few decades at least. It continues with Articulation, presidents working in that tradition. It ends with Disjunction, a president trying to cope with new problems within that tradition, and failing. Or at least being perceived as having failed. Alongside Articulation is Preemption, presidents from the opposite party who nevertheless try to work within the existing tradition.

One can classify these types of presidencies in a table:
[table]- | Strong | Weak
Same | Art | Dis
Opposite | Pre | Rec[/table]
Strong vs. weak dominant coalition
Same vs. opposite side relative to the dominant coalition

Here's a list of identifications that I've assembled from my sources:

1789 G Washington: Rec(?)
1796 J Adams: Dis

1800 T Jefferson: Rec
1808 J Madison: Art
1816 J Monroe: Art
1824 JQ Adams: Dis

1828 A Jackson: Rec
1836 M Van Buren: Art
1840 J Tyler: Pre
1844 J Polk: Art
1848 Z Taylor: Pre
1850 M Fillmore: Pre
1852 F Pierce: Dis
1856 J Buchanan: Dis

1860 A Lincoln: Rec
1864 A Johnson: Pre
1868 US Grant: Art
1880 J Garfield: Art
1881 C Arthur: Art
1884 G Cleveland: Pre
1888 B Harrison: Art
1892 G Cleveland: Pre

1896 W McKinley: Rec / Art
1901 T Roosevelt: Art
1908 W Taft: Art
1912 W Wilson: Pre
1920 W Harding: Art
1928 H Hoover: Dis

1932 FD Roosevelt: Rec
1945 HS Truman: Art
1952 D Eisenhower: Pre
1960 JF Kennedy: Art
1963 LB Johnson: Art
1968 R Nixon: Pre
1976 J Carter: Dis

1980 R Reagan: Rec
1988 G Bush I: Art
1992 B Clinton: Pre
2000 G Bush II: Art
2008 B Obama: Pre

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Post by plebian » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:51 pm

I have always thought that Kuhn's paradigm concept is more useful to the social sciences than to the physical sciences.

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Post by lpetrich » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Where are we now?

Hannah Solomon-Strauss addressed that question, and she noted that the second term of George Bush II's presidency had a Disjunctive quality about it, with its big failures and a major economic slump. As she notes, Barack Obama governed much more in a Preemptive sort of fashion than in a Reconstructive sort of fashion. His "Obamacare" health-care reform was pretty much Heritagecare / Chaffeecare / Romneycare, even though the Republicans denounced it as a socialist monstrosity. The Republicans also denounced cap-and-trade, even though it was their sort of thing. Like such Preemptive presidents as Eisenhower, Nixon, and Bill Clinton, Obama got a lot of criticism from his own party as well as from the other one.


Now for The Nation's interview with Stephen Skowronek himself.

He noted that a president is often expected to be both a transformative leader and an Administrator in Chief -- and that these two styles of governing do not coexist very well. Barack Obama had campaigned on being the first, and then governed on being the second.
 In the 2016 election, we saw a choice between candidates who were essentially caricatures of those two views. Hillary Clinton was all about competence and management and rational decision-making, while Trump was all about popular mobilization and disruption.
Hillary Clinton was the second and Donald Trump was the first.

As to how likely DT would be a transformational president, SS thinks it very unlikely, for two reasons. The first reason is what he calls the "Obama rule": "It says that as government becomes more inclusive and interdependent in its interests, the Jacksonian standard becomes increasingly irrelevant and irrational." The second reason is that there has to be clear evidence that the old order is a failure.
Trump won the 2016 election by talking up this fabricated image of the Obama presidency as a failure, but it had very little foundation in reality.
He then noted that the Democrats have been very bad at advertising their accomplishments.
Trump might go ahead and reconstruct the conservative regime from within, uniting a coalition around this much more virulent orthodoxy.
But with his limited support, especially in the Republican Party itself, he seems unlikely to do that.

He notes that DT stated in the Republican National Convention that "I alone can fix it." Implying that he does not need the Republican Party. Something like Jimmy Carter's "Why not the best?" and Herbert Hoover's cultivating an image of himself as a "wonder boy" who can fix anything. Presidents who end eras of party dominance are usually loners who are detached from their parties. Much like DT.

After noting what an unusual coalition DT had, he suggests that any new reconstruction will likely take a very unexpected sort of shape, and not necessarily typical left-liberalism.

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Post by lpetrich » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:21 pm

[quote=""plebian""]I have always thought that Kuhn's paradigm concept is more useful to the social sciences than to the physical sciences.[/quote]
I think that it's an issue of how well-developed the science is.

The softer the science, the more it gets positive results - Secular Café
PLOS ONE: “Positive” Results Increase Down the Hierarchy of the Sciences

I have found a paywall-escapee copy of one of its referred-to papers, where 222 scholars assessed several academic fields by similarity.
The dimensions of variation were
  • Hard - soft
  • Pure - applied
  • Life - nonlife
A "hard" field has some well-defined central paradigms that essentially everybody in a field accepts. New paradigms do not replace them but instead add to them or build on them. Being consistent with the successes of earlier paradigms is an important constraint on new ones.

"Soft" fields lack such paradigms. Consider the rise and fall of Freudianism in psychology. It seemed like a paradigm worthy of the hard sciences -- for a while.

Also from the PLoS One paper,
... in some fields of research (which we will henceforth indicate as “harder”) data and theories speak more for themselves, whereas in other fields (the “softer”) sociological and psychological factors – for example, scientists' prestige within the community, their political beliefs, their aesthetic preferences, and all other non-cognitive factors – play a greater role in all decisions made in research, from which hypothesis should be tested to how data should be collected, analyzed, interpreted and compared to previous studies.
There's support for a hard - soft axis of variation from studies of lots of features, like number of colleagues acknowledged per paper, immediacy of references, and even the fraction of paper area dedicated to graphs.
Younger, less developed fields of research should tend to produce and test hypotheses about observable relationships between variables (“phenomenological” theories). The more a field develops and “matures”, the more it tends to develop and test hypotheses about non-observable phenomena underlying the observed relationships (“mechanistic” theories). These latter kinds of hypotheses reach deeper levels of reality, are logically stronger, less likely to be true, and are more conclusively testable.

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