This site publishes reliable information about the presidential form of government practiced in the United States. Its aim is to enhance people’s understanding of this unique democratic system, and to explore how it can be improved while adhering to its fundamental principles.
The presidential system can do a world of good if it’s adopted and practiced by other nations in its true form. It is in fact the secret behind America’s success. Because this system gives the nation’s political leaders a fixed time in which to perform while ensuring through frequent elections that they never stray too far from the will of the people; it keeps governments focused on delivering good local administration while also maintaining a strong national vision; and it empowers the winning majority to deliver on election promises while keeping it from becoming too extreme and oppressing the nation’s minorities.
The Founding Fathers of the United States invented the presidential system as an alternative to monarchical and parliamentary governments. They abhorred the centralization of powers in the executive branch inherent in those forms. So they designed a system grounded in three fundamental principles: republicanism, federalism, and the separation of powers.
Today many critics argue that this strict separation of powers makes the presidential model too slow or even dysfunctional. But as Thomas Jefferson cautioned, “a very energetic government… is always oppressive.” Speed or “energy” was purposely curtailed by the Founders in exchange for a government truly based on the will of the governed.
Lately the American government is also criticized for fostering authoritarianism. But in more than two centuries, this system has never allowed a President to become a dictator. Even former President Trump, despite all his bluster, was stopped from acting autocratically and removed from office after one term.
If today’s critics of the system desire a more majoritarian government, that is a testament to the model’s success. This system has removed the fear of “tyranny of the majority” that so consumed its creators. James Madison, key architect of the Constitution, articulated that concern perfectly: “Place three individuals in a situation… and give to two of them an interest opposed to the rights of the third. Will the latter be secure?” he asked.
Many countries call their systems “presidential” (like Turkey and Venezuela) but almost all fail to balance powers as prescribed by America’s Founders. Invariably they make the office of President overly powerful vis-à-vis the Legislature (like France and Philippines).
 To Madison from Paris; 20 Dec 1787; https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-12-02-0454
 Madison, Vices of the Political System of the United States; 1787
Site manager: Bhanu Dhamija has spent half his life in India, the world’s largest democracy, and half in the United States, the world’s oldest. He now runs businesses in both countries. As a newspaper publisher and media professional he has observed the American system for decades and provides a fresh, nonpartisan perspective. His first book on American government, Why India Needs the Presidential System (HarperCollins India, 2015, 2019) compared it to that country’s parliamentary democracy. It was Amazon India’s bestseller in its category for more than 10 weeks.
Dhamija’s work has also appeared in The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Tribune, The Week, HuffPost, Scroll, The Quint, Swarajya, The Print, Firstpost, The Wire, and Divya Himachal.Follow @bhanudhamija