With dysfunction the current watchword in American politics, the public is naturally looking for solutions. The checks and balances offered by three coequal branches of government are the remedy most frequently advanced for this task. But we should exercise caution in endorsing this idea as a cure for our political ills....

It is common for scholars to distinguish between a ‘traditional presidency’ that existed in the 18th and 19th Centuries and a ‘modern presidency’ that emerged in the mid-20th Century. Proponents of this distinction see the presidency created by the Constitution as fundamentally weak. The modern presidency, by contrast, is portrayed as stronger and able to address the problems of a complex world. This view underestimates the centrality of the Constitution and its importance in creating a baseline of power and authority that all presidents draw upon. ...