The American Political Party System: Continuity and Change Over Ten Presidential Elections

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

From party polarization, elections, and internal party politics, to the evolution of the U.S. presidency, John S. Jackson's new book has something for everyone interested in American politics. Beginning with a discussion of the creation of the U.S. government to the formation of today's political powerhouses, Jackson provides a narrative sweep of American party history like none other.

Unique to this book is a detailed breakdown of the evolution of political parties from 1832 to the current era. Jackson explains how the reform era came to be, as well as how it produced the polarized party era we have today. In doing so, he guides the reader to an appreciation of where U.S. party politics originated and the aspirations of those who helped create the current system.

Jackson also examines the internal mechanisms and personalities of the Democratic and Republican parties. He compares multiple presidential elections, thus telling a broader story of the unfolding of today's party polarization and gridlock. He also explores the theoretical meaning of the changes observed in the parties from the responsible party model perspective.

The themes of continuity and change are set in the context of group-think versus rational decisionmaking. Specific focus is given to political elites who are sophisticated about politics and who make strategic decisions, but are also bound by their humanity and occasionally fail to see the right deci-sion due to their own personal biases.

This book will be particularly useful for those who want to explore polarization, the responsible parties model, the rational actor model, and anyone who wants to better understand elections, party politics, and the evolution of the presidency.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Oct 14, 2014
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Pages
225
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ISBN
9780815726388
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / American Government / Legislative Branch
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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People on the right are furious. People on the left are livid. And the center isn’t holding. There is only one thing on which almost everyone agrees: there is something very wrong in Washington. The country is being run by pollsters. Few politicians are able to win the voters’ trust. Blame abounds and personal responsibility is nowhere to be found. There is a cynicism in Washington that appalls those in every state, red or blue. The question is: Why? The more urgent question is: What can be done about it?
Few people are more qualified to deal with both questions than Joe Klein.
There are many loud and opinionated voices on the political scene, but no one sees or writes with the clarity that this respected observer brings to the table. He has spent a lifetime enmeshed in politics, studying its nuances, its quirks, and its decline. He is as angry and fed up as the rest of us, so he has decided to do something about it—in these pages, he vents, reconstructs, deconstructs, and reveals how and why our leaders are less interested in leading than they are in the “permanent campaign” that political life has become.
The book opens with a stirring anecdote from the night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Klein re-creates the scene of Robert Kennedy’s appearance in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis, where he gave a gut-wrenching, poetic speech that showed respect for the audience, imparted dignity to all who listened, and quelled a potential riot. Appearing against the wishes of his security team, it was one of the last truly courageous and spontaneous acts by an American politician—and it is no accident that Klein connects courage to spontaneity. From there, Klein begins his analysis—campaign by campaign—of how things went wrong. From the McGovern campaign polling techniques to Roger Ailes’s combative strategy for Nixon; from Reagan’s reinvention of the Republican Party to Lee Atwater’s equally brilliant reinvention of behind-the-scenes strategizing; from Jimmy Carter to George H. W. Bush to Bill Clinton to George W.—as well as inside looks at the losing sides—we see how the Democrats become diffuse and frightened, how the system becomes unbalanced, and how politics becomes less and less about ideology and more and more about how to gain and keep power. By the end of one of the most dismal political runs in history—Kerry’s 2004 campaign for president—we understand how such traits as courage, spontaneity, and leadership have disappeared from our political landscape.
In a fascinating final chapter, the author refuses to give easy answers since the push for easy answers has long been part of the problem. But he does give thoughtful solutions that just may get us out of this mess—especially if any of the 2008 candidates happen to be paying attention.
Franklin Roosevelt was not only the first US president to be covered by public opinion polls, but his ratings have consistently exceeded those of all subsequent sitting presidents, save for John F. Kennedy. Moreover, Roosevelt also stands out with a popular appeal that is unsurpassed by any of his successors serving at least a full term. The key to his approval, as this book shows, was wartime leadership, not economic performance. It began with policies preparing the nation for war in the two years before formal entry. To use FDR's own coinage, it was making the United States the "arsenal of democracy" in the battle against tyranny. That pursuit, not the New Deal, earned him high marks with the American people and re-election to an unprecedented third term. World War II--and its heavy human toll--did nothing to diminish FDR's popularity. As such, the FDR experience defies major paradigms of presidential politics. Yet, Roosevelt has been relatively ignored by scholars of public opinion. What can FDR's experience teach us and his successors about rousing broad public support, particularly during wartime? What light does his success shed on the failures of Presidents Truman, Johnson, and George W. Bush in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq? On key issues, mainly with foreign policy, FDR had to contend with an American public that opposed his plans at the outset. Helmut Norpoth argues that Roosevelt had an unparalleled ability for leadership, especially through the fabled "fireside chats" and his appreciation of opinion polls, that enabled him to move the public to embrace his policies. In this book, Norpoth takes an in-depth look at how FDR's leadership swayed public opinion, comparing his experience to his successors to draw broad conclusions about what makes for successful presidential politics.
America's presidential nominating process is inherently unfair and exclusive, yielding undue weight and privilege to the states that vote in the earliest rounds. More and more states are beating down the door to vote earlier, trying to redress the inequity on a state-by-state basis. In the ensuing free-for-all, the presidential primary schedule has become so front-loaded that the anointed front-runner with the biggest war chest in each of the major parties is the de facto nominee. The primaries are becoming mere noise and pageantry, as the national conventions have been for several decades.

From the Primaries to the Polls describes the problem and proposes the solution. The American Plan is designed to begin with contests in small-population states, where candidates do not need millions of dollars to compete and a wide field of presidential hopefuls can be competitive in the early going. A minor candidate's surprise success in early rounds, based on merit rather than money, tends to attract money from larger numbers of small contributors for the campaign to spend in later rounds of primaries. Keeping more candidates in the race longer to challenge to the front-runners prevents a rush to judgment and permits more voters across the country to select from a diverse field. As the campaign proceeds over ten two-week intervals of primaries and caucuses on a semi-randomized schedule, the aggregate value of contested states becomes successively larger, requiring the expenditure of larger amounts of money in order to campaign effectively. A more gradual weeding-out process occurs, allowing a clear winner to emerge only after the full spectrum of candidates has been in play nationally.

An authoritative guide to the rise of the Islamic State and its senior leadership.

How did the Islamic State grow from regional terrorist group to a brutal multinational bureaucratic machine? What are its goals? How can it be stopped?

In 2014 the Islamic State seemingly appeared out of nowhere, routing Iraqi forces, conquering Iraq's second-largest city, boldly announcing the establishment of a caliphate, and declaring itself the Islamic State (IS). Today, IS controls thousands of square miles and is attempting to govern millions of people.

In this definitive guide to the Islamic State and its senior leadership, Charles R. Lister traces its roots from the release of its notorious father figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, from a Jordanian prison and the group's formation in Afghanistan in the late-1990s, and finally to its stunning maturation in Iraq and Syria.

The West knows IS through its unrelenting propaganda war, with its deft use of social media and videos of horrific acts. Lister shares details of IS's sophisticated revenue machine, attempts at governing, and its formidable military.

With IS knocking on the doors of Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, Lister's portrait helps us understand what to expect next and recommends a course of action to defeat IS, extinguish extremism, and encourage a tolerant Islam across the Middle East.

This book includes a Who's Who in the Islamic State's senior leadership.

From the foreword by Ahmed Rashid

"The Islamic State is the best basic understanding available of the ISIS phenomena and how to deal with it."

The first edition of Get Out the Vote! broke ground by introducing a new scientific approach to the challenge of voter mobilization and profoundly influenced how campaigns operate. In this expanded and updated edition, the authors incorporate data from more than one hundred new studies, which shed new light on the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of various campaign tactics, including door-to-door canvassing, e-mail, direct mail, and telephone calls. Two new chapters focus on the effectiveness of mass media campaigns and events such as candidate forums and Election Day festivals. Available in time for the core of the 2008 presidential campaign, this practical guide on voter mobilization is sure to be an important resource for consultants, candidates, and grassroots organizations. Praise for the first edition: "Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber have studied turnout for years. Their findings, based on dozens of controlled experiments done as part of actual campaigns, are summarized in a slim and readable new book called Get Out the Vote!, which is bound to become a bible for politicians and activists of all stripes." —Alan B. Kreuger, in the New York Times "Get Out the Vote! shatters conventional wisdom about GOTV." —Hal Malchow in Campaigns & Elections "Green and Gerber's recent book represents important innovations in the study of turnout."—Political Science Review "Green and Gerber have provided a valuable resource for grassroots campaigns across the spectrum."—National Journal
A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of America’s most puzzling era, the years 1920 to 1933, when the U.S. Constitution was amended to restrict one of America’s favorite pastimes: drinking alcoholic beverages.

From its start, America has been awash in drink. The sailing vessel that brought John Winthrop to the shores of the New World in 1630 carried more beer than water. By the 1820s, liquor flowed so plentifully it was cheaper than tea. That Americans would ever agree to relinquish their booze was as improbable as it was astonishing.

Yet we did, and Last Call is Daniel Okrent’s dazzling explanation of why we did it, what life under Prohibition was like, and how such an unprecedented degree of government interference in the private lives of Americans changed the country forever.

Writing with both wit and historical acuity, Okrent reveals how Prohibition marked a confluence of diverse forces: the growing political power of the women’s suffrage movement, which allied itself with the antiliquor campaign; the fear of small-town, native-stock Protestants that they were losing control of their country to the immigrants of the large cities; the anti-German sentiment stoked by World War I; and a variety of other unlikely factors, ranging from the rise of the automobile to the advent of the income tax.

Through it all, Americans kept drinking, going to remarkably creative lengths to smuggle, sell, conceal, and convivially (and sometimes fatally) imbibe their favorite intoxicants. Last Call is peopled with vivid characters of an astonishing variety: Susan B. Anthony and Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan and bootlegger Sam Bronfman, Pierre S. du Pont and H. L. Mencken, Meyer Lansky and the incredible—if long-forgotten—federal official Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who throughout the twenties was the most powerful woman in the country. (Perhaps most surprising of all is Okrent’s account of Joseph P. Kennedy’s legendary, and long-misunderstood, role in the liquor business.)

It’s a book rich with stories from nearly all parts of the country. Okrent’s narrative runs through smoky Manhattan speakeasies, where relations between the sexes were changed forever; California vineyards busily producing “sacramental” wine; New England fishing communities that gave up fishing for the more lucrative rum-running business; and in Washington, the halls of Congress itself, where politicians who had voted for Prohibition drank openly and without apology.

Last Call is capacious, meticulous, and thrillingly told. It stands as the most complete history of Prohibition ever written and confirms Daniel Okrent’s rank as a major American writer.
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