The Unsolid South: Mass Politics and National Representation in a One-Party Enclave

Princeton University Press
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During the Jim Crow era, the Democratic Party dominated the American South, presiding over a racially segregated society while also playing an outsized role in national politics. In this compelling book, Devin Caughey provides an entirely new understanding of electoral competition and national representation in this exclusionary one-party enclave. Challenging the notion that the Democratic Party’s political monopoly inhibited competition and served only the Southern elite, he demonstrates how Democratic primaries—even as they excluded African Americans—provided forums for ordinary whites to press their interests.

Focusing on politics during and after the New Deal, Caughey shows that congressional primary elections effectively substituted for partisan competition, in part because the spillover from national party conflict helped compensate for the informational deficits of elections without party labels. Caughey draws on a broad range of historical and quantitative evidence, including archival materials, primary election returns, congressional voting records, and hundreds of early public opinion polls that illuminate ideological patterns in the Southern public. Defying the received wisdom, this evidence reveals that members of Congress from the one-party South were no less responsive to their electorates than members from states with true partisan competition.

Reinterpreting a critical period in American history, The Unsolid South reshapes our understanding of the role of parties in democratic theory and sheds critical new light on electoral politics in authoritarian regimes.

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About the author

Devin Caughey is the Silverman (1968) Family Career Development Chair and associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 25, 2018
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780691184005
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)
Political Science / American Government / Legislative Branch
Political Science / American Government / National
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Process / General
Political Science / Political Process / Political Parties
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The 1994 elections represented a watershed year for southern Republicans. For the first time since Reconstruction, they gained control of a majority of national seats and governorships. Yet, despite these impressive gains, southern Republicans control only three of twenty-two state legislative chambers and 37 percent of state legislative seats. Joseph A. Aistrup addresses why this divergence between the national and subnational levels persists even after GOP national landslides in 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1994.

Explanations for this divergence lie in the interaction between the Republicans' "Southern Strategy" -a set of coherent ideological tactics designed to lure southern whites to support GOP candidates-and the Republicans' top-down party development efforts. Aistrup analyzes the historical evolution of the Republican Southern Strategy from Goldwater in 1961 to the "Contract with America" in 1994. Examining the roles of ideology, intra party politics, gerrymandering, and Democratic incumbency in Republican top-down advancement, he predicts the extent to which these will remain significant obstacles to GOP success in subnational elections after 1994.

Aistrup reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the Southern Strategy as it relates to candidate ideology and examines the influences of Republican victories in national and statewide offices on the party's subnational advancement. He shows a clear connection between Republican presidential success and southern Republican advancement in local elections.

A national map of legalized gambling from 1963 would show one state, Nevada, with casino gambling and no states with lotteries. Today's map shows eleven commercial casino states, most of them along the Mississippi River, forty-two states with state-owned lotteries, and racetrack betting, slot-machine parlors, charitable bingo, and Native American gambling halls flourishing throughout the nation. For the past twenty years, the South has wrestled with gambling issues. In How the South Joined the Gambling Nation, Michael Nelson and John Lyman Mason examine how modern southern state governments have decided whether to adopt or prohibit casinos and lotteries. Nelson and Mason point out that although the South participated fully in past gambling eras, it is the last region to join the modern movement embracing legalized gambling. Despite the prevalence of wistful, romantic images of gambling on southern riverboats, the politically and religiously conservative ideology of the modern South makes it difficult for states to toss their chips into the pot.
The authors tell the story of the arrival or rejection of legalized gambling in seven southern states -- Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama. The authors suggest that some states chose to legalize gambling based on the examples of other nearby states, as when Mississippi casinos spurred casino legalization in Louisiana and the Georgia lottery inspired lottery campaigns in neighboring South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. Also important was the influence of Democratic policy entrepreneurs, such as Zell Miller in Georgia, Don Siegelman in Alabama, and Edwin Edwards in Louisiana, who wanted to sell the idea of gambling in order to sell themselves to voters. At the same time, each state had its own idiosyncrasies, such as certain provisions of their state constitutions weighing heavily as a factor.
Nelson and Mason show that the story of gambling's spread in the South exemplifies the process of state policy innovation. In exploring how southern states have weighed the moral and economic risk of legalizing gambling, especially the political controversies that surround these discussions, Nelson and Mason employ a suspenseful, fast-paced narrative that echoes the oftentimes hurried decisions made by state legislators. Although each of these seven states fought a unique battle over gambling, taken together, these case studies help tell the larger story of how the South -- sometimes reluctantly, sometimes enthusiastically -- decided to join the gambling nation.
How American westward expansion was governmentally engineered to promote the formation of a white settler nation

Westward expansion of the United States is most conventionally remembered for rugged individualism, geographic isolationism, and a fair amount of luck. Yet the establishment of the forty-eight contiguous states was hardly a foregone conclusion, and the federal government played a critical role in its success. This book examines the politics of American expansion, showing how the government's regulation of population movements on the frontier, both settlement and removal, advanced national aspirations for empire and promoted the formation of a white settler nation.

Building an American Empire details how a government that struggled to exercise plenary power used federal land policy to assert authority over the direction of expansion by engineering the pace and patterns of settlement and to control the movement of populations. At times, the government mobilized populations for compact settlement in strategically important areas of the frontier; at other times, policies were designed to actively restrain settler populations in order to prevent violence, international conflict, and breakaway states. Paul Frymer examines how these settlement patterns helped construct a dominant racial vision for America by incentivizing and directing the movement of white European settlers onto indigenous and diversely populated lands. These efforts were hardly seamless, and Frymer pays close attention to the failures as well, from the lack of further expansion into Latin America to the defeat of the black colonization movement.

Building an American Empire reveals the lasting and profound significance government settlement policies had for the nation, both for establishing America as dominantly white and for restricting broader aspirations for empire in lands that could not be so racially engineered.

Everyone has an opinion about whether or not Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The number of actors involved is staggering, the events are complicated, and it’s hard to know who or what to believe. Spygate bypasses opinion and brings facts together to expose the greatest political scandal in American history.

 

Former Secret Service agent and NYPD police officer Dan Bongino joins forces with journalist D.C. McAllister to clear away fake news and show you how Trump’s political opponents, both foreign and domestic, tried to sabotage his campaign and delegitimize his presidency. By following the names and connections of significant actors, the authors reveal:

 

•      Why the Obama administration sent a spy connected to the Deep State into the Trump campaign 

•      How Russians were connected to the opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign to find dirt on Trump

•      How the FBI failed to examine DNC computers after they were hacked, relying instead on the findings of a private company connected to the DNC and the Obama administraton

•      Why British intelligence played a role in building the collusion narrative

•      What role Ukrainians played in legitimizing the perception that Trump was conspiring with the Russians

•      How foreign players in the two events that kickstarted the Trump-Russia collusion investigation were connected to the Clinton Foundation, and 

•      What motivated the major actors who sought to frame the Trump campaign and secure a win for Hillary Clinton

How the American government has long used financial credit programs to create economic opportunities

Federal housing finance policy and mortgage-backed securities have gained widespread attention in recent years because of the 2008 financial crisis, but issues of government credit have been part of American life since the nation’s founding. From the 1780s, when a watershed national land credit policy was established, to the postwar foundations of our current housing finance system, American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs. Sarah Quinn shows that since the Westward expansion, the U.S. government has used financial markets to manage America’s complex social divides, and politicians and officials across the political spectrum have turned to land sales, home ownership, and credit to provide economic opportunity without the appearance of market intervention or direct wealth redistribution.

Highly technical systems, securitization, and credit programs have been fundamental to how Americans determined what they could and should owe one another. Over time, government officials embraced credit as a political tool that allowed them to navigate an increasingly complex and fractured political system, affirming the government’s role as a consequential and creative market participant. Neither intermittent nor marginal, credit programs supported the growth of powerful industries, from railroads and farms to housing and finance; have been used for disaster relief, foreign policy, and military efforts; and were promoters of amortized mortgages, lending abroad, venture capital investment, and mortgage securitization.

Illuminating America’s market-heavy social policies, American Bonds illustrates how political institutions became involved in the nation’s lending practices.

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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