Understanding American Political Parties: Democratic Ideals, Political Uncertainty, and Strategic Positioning

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2012-08-17
  • Publisher: Routledge

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There is a clear discrepancy between the ideal role of political parties expressed in many textbooks and the reality that we see playing out in politics. This book fills that void by explaining the difficulties that parties run into in seeking to play out these ideals. Parties have long-term commitments and principles, but must adjust in the short-run based on the size and composition of their existing electoral base, current social and economic conditions, the composition of their congressional party, and interpretations of the meaning of recent elections. The process may at times seem erratic and as if parties lack principles, but the parties are seeking to represent the differing perspectives on policy that dominate our society.

Author Biography

Jeffrey M. Stonecash is Maxwell Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. His research focuses on political parties, realignment of their electoral bases, and the impact of changing alignments on the nature of policy debates.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
American Political Parties: Democratic Ideals and Doubtsp. 1
Democracy and the Ideal Role of Political Partiesp. 3
Enduring Doubts about Political Partiesp. 12
Parties and Political Conditionsp. 25
Notions of Party and Conflictp. 27
Shifting Electoral Basesp. 36
Conflicting Interpretations of Changep. 41
The Lack of a Majorityp. 49
Continuing Social Change and Eventsp. 57
Voters, Partisanship and the Mediap. 68
Enduring Uncertainty and Troubling Behaviorsp. 79
Pursuing Party Goalsp. 81
Pursuing Coalitions and an Identity: Long-Term Strategiesp. 83
Disparaging the Other Party: Short-Term Strategiesp. 97
Democracy and the Continuous Campaignp. 102
Notesp. 105
Bibliographyp. 120
Indexp. 134
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