Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch


Product Details

New York University Press
Publish Date
6.41 X 9.08 X 0.94 inches | 1.36 pounds

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About the Author

David Orentlicher is Cobeaga law firm professor of law and co-director of the UNLV Health Law Program at UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law. A scholar of constitutional law and a former state representative, David also has taught at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago Law School. He earned degrees in law and medicine at Harvard and specializes as well in health care law and ethics.


"A well researched and creative look at how to break the shackles of Washington gridlock. Instead of accepting the status quo of our checks and balance system he rethinks the wheel of Executive Power. Highly recommended."--Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University and Fellow, James Baker, III Institute for Public Policy
"Two Presidents Are Better Than One is well written, carefully researched, and thoughtfully argued."--The Federal Lawyer, Louis Fisher
"A pipe dream of a book that dares to suggest that we can actually get along, politically speaking. The Founding Fathers, writes Orentlicher (Law/Indiana Univ.), envisioned the presidency as a substitute for the British royal family, a constitutional monarch, if you will. The Congress was supposed to act with deliberation, the president with all due speed, and thus, both order and energy would come to the national government. That vision, Orentlicher argues, has been betrayed by the growth of the imperial executive branch, the concurrent growth of political parties and party ideology, and the still more concurrent gridlock that seems to characterize the legislative branch and its interface with the executive. Given all that, the author proposes stealing a page from the French and electing a pair of executives, one from the winning party and one from the runner-up, a scheme that has the virtue of making room for a third party in a way that the current two-party system does not. It is to be noted, of course, that the prime minister/president system of France would likely not translate neatly to our current Constitution, which, of course, would require emending. Orentlicher argues that two executives, a senior and a junior partner, would better represent the now-divided polity and would be more efficient than the single-executive model, restoring some of the due speed the Founders hoped for. The author closes by noting that even if his proposal is a bit pie-in-the-sky, he hopes that even considering it will admit some air into a stagnant political debate and recognize the connection between the one-person, one-party president and the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. A novel and provocative thesis worth hearing out."--Kirkus Reviews
"With clarity and grace, David Orentlicher presents an intriguing and innovative idea intending to bring shared power and tempered partisanship to the presidency. A two-person presidency, he argues, would improve federal decision-making and contain the ever-expanding power of the executive. This book makes a persuasive argument for sweeping reforms to avoid the risks of an imperial presidency."--Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative; Director, the Center on Congress at Indiana University
"Many Americans are unsatisfied with politics. Simultaneously, we are hesitant to question the basic soundness of our constitutional system. In this refreshingly provocative book, David Orentlicher explains why it is due time for us to reconsider dominant ideas about the presidency, now arguably our most powerful political institution. Challenging the conventional wisdom that the best executive is necessarily a unitary executive, Orentlicher makes a wonderful case for why 'two presidents are better than one.' Sure to be of interest to political scientists, legal scholars, as well as informed citizens justifiably worried about the fate of American democracy, this fascinating book dares to challenge everything you thought you knew about one of our favorite political institutions."--William E. Scheuerman, Indiana University
"Can Orentlicher be serious in calling for a plural executive? The answer is yes, and he presents thoughtful and challenging arguments responding to likely criticisms. Any readers who are other than completely complacent about the current state of American politics will have to admire Orentlichers distinctive audacity and to respond themselves to his well-argued points."--Sanford Levinson, author of Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance
"This is one of those rare books where you move from initial bewilderment to skepticism to self-questioning to enthusiasm. It is time to question the constitutional legacy of the Enlightenment, and Orentlicher provides a solid, out of the box revisitation of constitutional idolatry."--Chibli Mallat, Presidential Professor of Middle Eastern Law and Politics, University of Utah

"A fascinating challenge to both conventional wisdom about the presidency and to the complacent belief that the Constitution of the United States is the source of our virtues rather than our contemporary problems.

"--Mark Graber, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
"[Orentlicher] raises some concerns about the level and role of partisanship in American democratic governance. He is right that a discussion about such concerns is vital to the success of democratic processes....Summing Up: Recommended."--Choice, J. Twombly, Elmira College