With so much ink spilled on the prospects of a Trump presidency, far less attention is being devoted to the more likely scenario of a Hillary Clinton presidency. When there has been sustained speculation, it’s typically been either biographical or ideological: how would her storied professional and personal life, or her sometimes unclear political beliefs, shape her behavior in office?
At least as important to understanding any presidency, however, is determining where that chief executive resides within larger cycles of history and politics. Such a perspective strongly suggests that a Clinton presidency would be one of “articulation” and would bear most similarity to those of Harry Truman (1945-53), Lyndon Johnson (1963-69), and George H. W. Bush (1989-1993).
The term “articulation” comes from the four-part typology (also including “reconstruction,” “disjunction,” and “preemption”) created by political scientist Stephen Skowronek in his now-classic 1997 book The Politics Presidents Make. Skowronek argues that a key to locating presidents in “political time” is to determine whether they are opposed to, or aligned with, the prevailing political paradigms of their time, and then to assess whether those structures and ideologies remain resilient or have grown vulnerable to challenge.
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