Moral Leadership and Administrative Statesmanship: Safeguards of Democracy in a Constitutional Republic


  • Chad B. Newswander is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Dakota. His research interests include constitutional governance, power and politics, and domestic security. E-mail:


The pursuit of the common good must be understood from the reality that governing is ugly. The ability to grapple with situations that are ambiguous requires administrators to be cognizant of action that might be suspect but necessary to accomplish the public interest. This often requires them to become active players. John Rohr postulates that the U.S. Supreme Court's standards of strict scrutiny is one approach that could be used to justify such action. Building on this line of thinking, the strict scrutiny test can be used as a guide to shape the constitutive character of administrative statesmanship while simultaneously restraining it. The ability to balance formative action and restraint provides a different dimension to an understanding of administrative statesmanship. Even though this process is not easy, it helps administrators refrain from going beyond the mark and enables them to act like statesmen in seemingly unresolvable situations.