Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 12 > Issue 2

Showing Off: Promise and Peril in Unilateral Policymaking

Gleason Judd, University of Rochester, USA, gleason.judd@rochester.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Gleason Judd (2017), "Showing Off: Promise and Peril in Unilateral Policymaking", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 12: No. 2, pp 241-268. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00016144

Published: 06 Sep 2017
© 2017 G. Judd
 
Subjects
Elections,  Executive politics,  Formal modelling,  Game theory,  Political economy,  Presidential politics
 
Keywords
Electoral accountabilityPresidencyUnilateral policymakingPolitical economy
 

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In this article:
Model
Analysis
Complete Information Benchmark
Uncertainty About Policymaking Skill
Efficient versus Inefficient Showing Off
Extensions
Discussion
Conclusion
References

Abstract

Presidents have substantial unilateral policymaking powers in the United States despite constitutional provisions for checks and balances. I study how electoral concerns encourage officeholders to exercise these powers, using a formal model in which unilateral policymaking skill varies across officeholders and is unknown to voters. Undesirable unilateral action is unavoidable in equilibrium under broad conditions. This perverse behavior occurs when the incumbent acts unilaterally to show off policymaking skill even though unilateral action is inferior policy. Showing off is driven by electoral motivations and occurs because unilateral action is important for re-election. I also characterize conditions under which the incumbent acts unilaterally in equilibrium if and only if it improves voter welfare.

DOI:10.1561/100.00016144

Online Appendix | 100.00016144_app.pdf

This is the article's accompanying appendix.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00016144_app