Effective presidents are able to bring the two major parties together within Congress and their administration so that there is a cohesiveness which provides more productivity within our government.
This is an excellent question. It would make a good discussion board question. Personally, I think the presidents who have had the most success with Congress are either those who were in office during a very difficult time in American history and/or those who knew how to work pragmatically with Congress. Several presidents come to mind, both as good and poor examples of getting their programs through. In the 1960, John Kennedy was a very popular president yet he had a very difficult time getting much of his legislation passed in Congress. Members of Congress did not really trust him and his administration tried to force legislation through. It was not until Lyndon Johnson became president after Kennedy's assignation that much of Kennedy's programs passed Congress. Johnson had been Senate Majority Leader and knew Congress well. That enabled him to get landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and his Great Society Programs passed. Congress knew him and trusted him. Franklin Roosevelt is another example. He had served in Washington as under secretary to the navy, and, of course his cousin had been president. Roosevelt was extremely pragmatic and worked with Congress to get his New Deal legislation passed. Of course, he came to the presidency when the nation was suffering from The Great Depression and his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, had not been effective in dealing with the issue.
In general the presidents who have been most effective in enacting their plans have been those operating in a unilateral government. Unilateral government refers to a government in which the same political party controls both the legistlative branch and the executive branch of government. In recent history, however, most presidents have been operating in what is known as a bilateral government, which is a government in which representatives of opposing politcal parties control the legislative branch and executive branch, one controlling each branch respectively. This bilateral form of government leads to political gridlock, which is essentially when nothing gets accomplished and no bills get passed, since both parties not only have different constituents to appease but also have directly opposed political views. However, during the 1940's when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, he was able to pass many of his plans through Congress. This was accomplished because of two main reasons: one was because Roosevelt was a very popular president, both with Congress and with the average citizen. The other was due to the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Democratic and the Congress in power during his presidency was also Democratic.