Recently at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen one regular commentor suggested that libertarians must have a great faith in humanity’s angelic nature. It’s amazing that a regular reader of LOoG could still think that, unless he made a practice of never reading Jason Kuznicki’s posts. But that put me in the frame of work to take particular notice of a statement by Cato veep Gene Healy in a new book on the presidency.
[I]f there’s a common belief unifying the various quarrelsome factions in the political movement I call home–if there’s something on which we eccentrics all can agree–it’s this: Human beings are fallible creatures, and they cannot be trusted with unchecked power.
The book is Contending Approaches to the American Presidency, which just came to me unsolicited from the publisher (CQ Press–the book is brand new, copyright date 2012). I instantly decided to use it in my presidency class–it’s a nice slime volume with chapters on the liberal approach to the presidency, the conservative approach, a moderate approach, an argument for a constitutionally constrained presidency, one on the unitary presidency, and concluding with Healy’s chapter on the libertarian view of the presidency. A strength is that the chapters appear to be written by people who hold those positions, who argue for them, rather than just someone describing them.
I use a lot of literature that explains the the institution of the presidency (broadly defined to include change over time as well as the Executive Office of the President), which all the students ought to know to be able to say they understand the presidency, but at times it’s a bit dry. This book should complement that nicely by giving them the normative arguments that–regrettably–most political science students prefer, but in a way that is, sneakily, empirical, because it demonstrates the range of perspectives on the presidency in U.S. politics.