For decades America’s civic and governmental institutions have lost the trust of the people, and sometimes even come under direct attack. Commentators offer various explanations for what has happened. Many point to a loss of faith in authority figures beginning with the Vietnam War and the corruption of Watergate, and the movement in the 1960s and ‘70s, stemming in part from the anti-war protest effort, that sought to challenge authority figures of all stripes. Whatever the reason, the fact is that 50 years ago the public had more faith in institutions as varied as the press, universities, religious organizations, and the government. And those institutions played a bigger role in our lives.
To consider the urgent questions surrounding the breakdown of institutions, The Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Brookings Institution are proud to be co-hosting a ten-part series of events: Pillars of Democracy: Institutions in Crisis. The first event, last month, looked at the state of the US Congress.
On August 19, at 4pm we follow up with a discussion of the presidency. Free registration for that event is available now. A recording will be available on the Library of Congress Youtube channel on September 2.
Since 1789, the actions of presidents have raised questions about centralized power and the constitutional balance among the branches of government. Since World War II the constitutionality of presidential actions in war and foreign policy have been subjects of vigorous debate, and in other policy realms executive orders, signing statements, and other actions have proven highly controversial. In the 21st century, trust in the presidency and the level of agreement with presidential actions is increasingly determined by partisan identification. To many, the office is little more than a means to an end.
To address these and other issues surrounding the state of the presidency, the Library of Congress, AEI, and Brookings will bring together a high-powered panel of scholars and practitioners who provide diverse perspectives, moderated by Gary Schmitt of AEI. He will be joined by Elaine Kamarck of Brookings, an author and longtime player in presidential politics; Sai Prakash from the University of Virginia School of Law, a renowned critic of the presidency’s expanding powers; and Jeffrey Tulis of the University of Texas, a leading scholar on the development of the presidency.
Please join us for what promises to be a stimulating conversation. It will take place live on Zoom on August 19 at 4pm, and free registration is open. If you are not able to view the event live, a recording will be available on September 2 on the Library of Congress Youtube channel.