Stephen Skowronek has a theory about presidential elections. He looks at the sequence of ‘political time’, the historical pattern of the American presidency that has repeated itself over the last 200 years. The sequence goes from “reconstructive” presidents who transform politics in their own image (Roosevelt, Reagan), followed by their handpicked successors (Truman, Bush ‘41) ; in turn they are usually succeeded by presidents Skowronek calls “pre-emptive”, who adopt the reigning orthodoxy of their parties (Eisenhower, Bill Clinton) followed by a faithful servant of that orthodoxy (Kennedy/Johnson, Bush ‘43) followed by another pre-emptive opposition leader (Nixon, Obama). The final stage is the “disjunctive” leader, who is outside their party’s orthodoxy, and that’s where we are now with Trump.
Read the full interview in The Nation here.