The President as Opposition Leader



This article explores the nature of presidential opposition leadership. Presidents aligned with a minority party are opposed to the reigning governing philosophy. Such presidents can be considered “opposition leaders,” and the nature of the conflict they face differs from that of other presidents. All opposition presidents face roughly the same type of leadership situation—governing in an era in which they do not control the power to define politics. That problem influences the actions of administrations. Studying the presidency in such a political context enables us to break free of the one-size-fits-all model of presidential leadership. Leadership strategies are contingent and context bound. If an opposition leadership strategy can be generalized to all such presidents, the article will demonstrate the need to be more nuanced in our examination of this branch.