Schlesinger Jr., Arthur M.
January 2003
Elections of 1789 & 1792 & the Administration of George Washingt;2003, p6
Running for president is the central rite in the American political order. It was not always so. Choosing the chief magistrate had been the point of the quadrennial election from the beginning, but it took a long while for candidates to run for the highest office in the land. This work thereby illuminates the changing ways the American people have conceived the role of their president. The primary force behind the revolution in campaign attitudes and techniques was a development unforeseen by the men who framed the Constitution—the rise of the party system. Quite the contrary: inspired at one or two removes by Lord Bolingbroke's British tract of half a century earlier, The Idea of a Patriot King, the Founding Fathers envisaged a Patriot President, standing above party and faction, representing the whole people, offering the nation non-partisan leadership virtuously dedicated to the common good. The ideal of the Patriot President was endangered, the Founding Fathers believed, by twin menaces — factionalism and the demagogue. Condemned by the Founding Fathers, unknown to the Constitution, parties nonetheless imperiously forced themselves into political life.


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