In a recent paper, Chris Berry and I analyze what we call the unbundled executive: a plural executive regime in which discrete authority is taken from the President and given exclusively to a directly elected executive official. Imagine a directly elected War Executive, Education Executive or Agriculture Executive. We show that the standard arguments used to justify a single executive in the United States actually justify a specific type of plural executive, not the single executive structure favored in Article II.
Suppose there is only one single elected executive who has
responsibility for all j policy dimensions in a jurisdiction. Elections
require voters to make a single elect-reject decision. Because of the
crudeness of the electoral sanction, it is a weak way for voters to
control the single executive on any particular policy dimension.
Voters must make a decision on a bundle of policy dimensions. As a
result, the official can enact special interest-friendly policies or
their personal preferences on some dimensions, as long as she enacts
voter-friendly policies on a sufficient number of dimensions to secure
reelection. Instead of electing one executive to oversee all policy
dimensions, suppose a jurisdiction elects several executives each of
whom is exclusively and exhaustively responsible for one dimension. In
this unbundled regime, citizens need not aggregate judgments across
multiple policy issues at election time. An executive who enacts an
interest-group-friendly policy in her single domain will not be able to
placate voters with voter-friendly policies on other issues.
Continue reading "The Unbundled Executive" »