In Episode 4, hosts Walt Shaub and Virginia Heffernan investigate the ways presidential power has expanded at the expense of checks and balances. What systems exist to rein in a would-be authoritarian president, and how are they faring in these turbulent times?
The hosts talk to historian Matt Dallek, who explains the expansion of presidential power and the dangers of relying on norms and traditions alone to rein in executive power. As Dallek notes, some theorists have flooded the zone with talk of a nearly omnipotent leader who resembles a king more than a president. But law professor Jed Shugerman joins Virginia and Walt to offer listeners a differing view of the executive: that of a faithful servant who is limited by the responsibility to take care in carrying out the laws enacted by Congress.
With the nation at a crossroads in the struggle between democracy and a burgeoning authoritarian movement, questions about the president’s power have never seemed more urgent. The episode’s third guest, POGO’s own Liz Hempowicz, wraps up the show by telling our hosts about pending legislation that could add new, crucial checks on a president’s power.