Does Institutional Design Make a Difference?

Calabresi, Steven G. | April 1, 2015

This Essay argues that there are two unappreciated aspects of U.S. constitutional design that have contributed to our country’s success. The first is the fact that the United States is divided into fifty rather than four states. This greatly strengthens the national government and renders secession almost impossible. The second is the formidable set of checks and balances set up on presidential power that makes it impossible for U.S. presidents to become dictators. The fact that thirty-nine of the fifty state governors are elected in off-year or midterm elections, elections in which the incumbent president’s party almost always loses ground to the opposition, greatly limits U.S. presidential power.