This article integrates three fields of study: the “regime politics” paradigm in law and courts, the “institutional change” approach in public policy, and the “unilateral presidency” literature. In doing so, we show how law, politics, and public policy are inextricably linked, and that researchers can borrow assumptions, methods, and theories from a variety of fields. We use Donald Trump’s early presidency to show how political actors (especially presidents) can use four different change strategies. In the case of Trump, we highlight: shifting of decision-making authority via insurrectionary displacement; the elimination of the individual mandate via subversive layering; a change in drone use policy via opportunistic conversion; and a gradual desensitization and change in school choice education policy via symbiotic drift. We conclude by offering lessons for all three literatures we incorporate, as well as a way forward for studying a presidential administration that many find difficult to analyze.
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