Cover image for Two parties--or more? : the American party system
Title:
Two parties--or more? : the American party system
Author:
Bibby, John F.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xv, 140 pages : maps ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1420 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780813399928

9780813399935
Format :
Book

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Call Number
Material Type
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Status
Central Library JK2261 .B493 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Although the Democrats and Republicans have dominated American politics for nearly 150 years, many Americans today have doubts about the two-party system. In 1992, nearly 30 percent of those polled felt that "the two-party system is seriously broken and the country needs a third party." In fact, in three of the five most recent presidential elections, candidates from outside the two parties have attracted serious media and voter attention.Students of American government are thus faced with an enduring dilemma: Why two parties? Why has this system remained largely intact while around the world democracies support multiparty systems? Should our two-party system continue as we enter the new millennium? Two Parties--Or More? answers these questions by first placing the dilemma in the context of recent elections--at both the state and federal level--and by defining the types of minor parties and of the roles they play. The authors then provide a historical overview of minor parties--including such transient groups as the Know Nothings and the Greenbacks--and the roles they played in moving major parties on issue spectrums.As the discussion turns to the context in which all political parties must function, topics include the role of the party in an election, the impact of a direct primary system, the role of legislatures and courts, and questions regarding ballot access and campaign financing. By focusing on Perot's Reform party's efforts in 1992 and 1996, the text lays out the current dilemma regarding third parties and explores the extent and cause of the current dissatisfaction with the two major parties. Two Parties--Or More? concludes with predictions about the future of third-party politics in the states and the nation.The text is enhanced with a glossary, discussion questions, and an appendix of important third parties in presidential elections and recent officeholders who were neither Democrat nor Republican.In courses on American government or parties and elections, Two Parties--Or More? will entice students to debate one of the most pressing (and enduring) issues with respect to the American electoral system.


Summary

Although the Democrats and Republicans have dominated American politics for nearly 150 years, many Americans today have doubts about the two-party system. In 1992, nearly 30 percent of those polled felt that "the two-party system is seriously broken and the country needs a third party." In fact, in three of the five most recent presidential elections, candidates from outside the two parties have attracted serious media and voter attention.Students of American government are thus faced with an enduring dilemma: Why two parties? Why has this system remained largely intact while around the world democracies support multiparty systems? Should our two-party system continue as we enter the new millennium? Two Parties--Or More? answers these questions by first placing the dilemma in the context of recent elections--at both the state and federal level--and by defining the types of minor parties and of the roles they play. The authors then provide a historical overview of minor parties--including such transient groups as the Know Nothings and the Greenbacks--and the roles they played in moving major parties on issue spectrums.As the discussion turns to the context in which all political parties must function, topics include the role of the party in an election, the impact of a direct primary system, the role of legislatures and courts, and questions regarding ballot access and campaign financing. By focusing on Perot's Reform party's efforts in 1992 and 1996, the text lays out the current dilemma regarding third parties and explores the extent and cause of the current dissatisfaction with the two major parties. Two Parties--Or More? concludes with predictions about the future of third-party politics in the states and the nation.The text is enhanced with a glossary, discussion questions, and an appendix of important third parties in presidential elections and recent officeholders who were neither Democrat nor Republican.In courses on American government or parties and elections, Two Parties--Or More? will entice students to debate one of the most pressing (and enduring) issues with respect to the American electoral system.


Author Notes

L. Sandy Maisel is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government and chair of the department of political science at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The author and/or editor of a dozen books, he lives in Oakland, Maine.

(Bowker Author Biography)


L. Sandy Maisel is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government and chair of the department of political science at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The author and/or editor of a dozen books, he lives in Oakland, Maine.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Two-party competition is the American norm. Yet a variety of "third parties" also contest elections at the national, state, and local levels. Indeed, between 1949 and 1996 a total of 150 minor parties offered presidential candidates to voters in one or more states. A number of studies have examined the conditions that give rise to third parties and have explored their effects on the party system and public policy, e.g., Daniel A. Mazmanian, Third Parties in Presidential Elections, CH, Jul'74; Steven Rosenstone et al., Third Parties in America, CH, Jun'84; and J. David Gillespie, Politics at the Periphery, CH, Nov'93. Political scientists Bibby and Maisel chart a different course by raising a number of empirical and normative questions: Why just two major parties and not more? What factors discourage the growth and persistence of third parties? Would a multiparty system be better? Their answers and assessments will not surprise professionals in this field, but undergraduates will be challenged and rewarded as they read this informative introduction to American party politics. Recommended for general readers and undergraduate students. E. C. Dreyer University of Tulsa


Choice Review

Two-party competition is the American norm. Yet a variety of "third parties" also contest elections at the national, state, and local levels. Indeed, between 1949 and 1996 a total of 150 minor parties offered presidential candidates to voters in one or more states. A number of studies have examined the conditions that give rise to third parties and have explored their effects on the party system and public policy, e.g., Daniel A. Mazmanian, Third Parties in Presidential Elections, CH, Jul'74; Steven Rosenstone et al., Third Parties in America, CH, Jun'84; and J. David Gillespie, Politics at the Periphery, CH, Nov'93. Political scientists Bibby and Maisel chart a different course by raising a number of empirical and normative questions: Why just two major parties and not more? What factors discourage the growth and persistence of third parties? Would a multiparty system be better? Their answers and assessments will not surprise professionals in this field, but undergraduates will be challenged and rewarded as they read this informative introduction to American party politics. Recommended for general readers and undergraduate students. E. C. Dreyer University of Tulsa


Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figuresp. xi
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1 Third Parties in American Politicsp. 1
Varieties and Definitions of Third Partiesp. 6
Subpresidential Politicsp. 14
The Dilemma of the Two-Party Systemp. 16
2 Minor Parties in a Two-Party System: Historical Perspectivesp. 19
The Emergence of a Party Systemp. 22
The Pre-Civil War Era: Two-Party Competition, Minor Party Eruptionsp. 24
The Post-Civil War Era: Republican Ascendancy, Sectionalism, Transient Third Partiesp. 29
The 1896 Election: Electoral Realignment, Republican Resurgencep. 31
Progressivism and the Emergence of the New Deal Democratic Coalitionp. 33
The Ascendancy of the New Deal Democratic Coalitionp. 34
The Post-New Deal System: Divided Government, Candidate-Centered Politics, Continuing Third-Party and Independent Candidaciesp. 37
Minor Parties in State Politicsp. 42
Lessons from Party Historyp. 48
3 Third Parties in the American Context: A Less Than Friendly Environmentp. 51
Why Two Major Parties and Not a Multiparty System?p. 54
Institutional Barriers to Multiparty Politicsp. 56
Assessing Public Support for the Republicans and Democratsp. 64
Fear of "Wasting" One's Vote: Strategic Voting in Recent Presidential Electionsp. 65
Multiparty Systems at the State Level: The Overwhelming Tides of National Politicsp. 66
An Environment Hostile to Third Partiesp. 68
4 The Public Demand for Alternativesp. 69
Discontent at the Ballot Box with Two-Party Alternativesp. 71
Public Opinion on the Performance of Our Two-Party Political Systemp. 75
Politicians' Responses to Public Discontentp. 78
Causes of the Dissatisfactionp. 84
Consequences of "Alternative" Governmentsp. 88
5 Political Parties in the Twenty-First Centuryp. 93
The Future of Two-Party Politics in Americap. 95
A Defense of Two-Party Politics in Americap. 99
Reforming the Two-Party Systemp. 108
Discussion Questionsp. 113
Glossaryp. 115
Appendixp. 119
Notesp. 125
Referencesp. 129
Indexp. 133
List of Tables and Figuresp. xi
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1 Third Parties in American Politicsp. 1
Varieties and Definitions of Third Partiesp. 6
Subpresidential Politicsp. 14
The Dilemma of the Two-Party Systemp. 16
2 Minor Parties in a Two-Party System: Historical Perspectivesp. 19
The Emergence of a Party Systemp. 22
The Pre-Civil War Era: Two-Party Competition, Minor Party Eruptionsp. 24
The Post-Civil War Era: Republican Ascendancy, Sectionalism, Transient Third Partiesp. 29
The 1896 Election: Electoral Realignment, Republican Resurgencep. 31
Progressivism and the Emergence of the New Deal Democratic Coalitionp. 33
The Ascendancy of the New Deal Democratic Coalitionp. 34
The Post-New Deal System: Divided Government, Candidate-Centered Politics, Continuing Third-Party and Independent Candidaciesp. 37
Minor Parties in State Politicsp. 42
Lessons from Party Historyp. 48
3 Third Parties in the American Context: A Less Than Friendly Environmentp. 51
Why Two Major Parties and Not a Multiparty System?p. 54
Institutional Barriers to Multiparty Politicsp. 56
Assessing Public Support for the Republicans and Democratsp. 64
Fear of "Wasting" One's Vote: Strategic Voting in Recent Presidential Electionsp. 65
Multiparty Systems at the State Level: The Overwhelming Tides of National Politicsp. 66
An Environment Hostile to Third Partiesp. 68
4 The Public Demand for Alternativesp. 69
Discontent at the Ballot Box with Two-Party Alternativesp. 71
Public Opinion on the Performance of Our Two-Party Political Systemp. 75
Politicians' Responses to Public Discontentp. 78
Causes of the Dissatisfactionp. 84
Consequences of "Alternative" Governmentsp. 88
5 Political Parties in the Twenty-First Centuryp. 93
The Future of Two-Party Politics in Americap. 95
A Defense of Two-Party Politics in Americap. 99
Reforming the Two-Party Systemp. 108
Discussion Questionsp. 113
Glossaryp. 115
Appendixp. 119
Notesp. 125
Referencesp. 129
Indexp. 133

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