I am a Postdoctoral Associate in the Center for the Study of Representative Institutions and a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Yale University. My principal research and teaching interests include the Presidency, Congress, American Political Development, American Political Thought, and Archival Methods. I received my Ph.D. in political science from Yale in May 2019.
My research is broadly motivated by understanding the relationship between ideas and political authority in America. In particular, in two book projects, I explore the role of ideas in changes to presidential power over time.
In The Representative Presidency: Ideas and Institutional Change (under contract with the University of Chicago Press), I focus on connection between the idea of presidential representation and Congress’s role as a patron of presidential power. The project makes two principal contributions. First, I offer one of the few accounts of the development of the presidency from Congress’s perspective, and I describe transformations in the constitutional structure of separate institutions sharing powers. Even a cursory glance at today’s political headlines shows that fundamental questions about presidential power – and the ideas and assumptions underlying its use – are at stake. Second, this project provides a framework to more effectively consider the role of ideas in political development, showing how ideas can serve as the link between both initial choices of institutional design and the durability of those arrangements over time.
As an illustration, I reconsider a puzzle: Congress’s creation of the institutional presidency. I show that the acceptance of the idea of presidential representation – an assumption that presidents possess and act based on a unique perspective due to their national constituency – was an essential precondition of congressional laws that together amounted to the institutional arrangements of the modern presidency. I compare the development and durability of laws passed by Congress creating the institutional presidency in five policy areas (budgeting, trade, reorganization, employment, and national security) over two periods of time (1921-1949 and 1973-1984). The first period demonstrates the efficacy of the idea of presidential representation in supporting institutional reform. The second period shows what happens to reformed institutions when the idea behind them falls out of favor. More broadly, this project offers a new understanding of the effect of Congress’s creation of the institutional presidency on the American constitutional system.
In Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive (with Stephen Skowronek and Desmond King; under contract with Oxford University Press), we explore the interactions between the claim of a “Deep State” and the unitary executive theory in the Trump era. Taking stock of the relationship between presidential power and the depth of the American state, we examine how this tension has reached a culmination with the Trump presidency, bringing to the fore long-unsettled issues over the place of the modern administrative state in the American constitutional system.
During the 2019-20 academic year, I taught two courses: “Ideas of Representation in American Political Development” (Fall 2019) and “Congress: How Legislating Works” (Spring 2020). For more on my teaching interests, drafted syllabi, and evaluations, please visit my Teaching page.