Cover image for Uneasy alliances : race and party competition in America
Uneasy alliances : race and party competition in America
Frymer, Paul, 1968-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 214 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Revision of the author's thesis (Ph. D.)--Yale University, 1995.
Reading Level:
1660 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.615 .F79 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Paul Frymer argues provocatively that two-party competition in the United States leads to the marginalization of African Americans and the subversion of democracy. Scholars have long claimed that the need to win elections makes candidates, parties, and government responsive to any and all voters. Frymer shows, however, that party competition is centered around racially conservative white voters, and that this focus on white voters has dire consequences for African Americans. As both parties try to attract white swing voters by distancing themselves from blacks, black voters are often ignored and left with unappealing alternatives. African Americans are thus the leading example of a "captured minority."

Frymer argues that our two-party system bears much of the blame for this state of affairs. Often overlooked in current discussions of racial politics, the party system represents a genuine form of institutional racism. Frymer shows that this is no accident, for the party system was set up in part to keep African American concerns off the political agenda. Today, the party system continues to restrict the political opportunities of African American voters, as was shown most recently when Bill Clinton took pains to distance himself from African Americans in order to capture conservative votes and win the presidency. Frymer compares the position of black voters with other social groups--gays and lesbians and the Christian right, for example--who have recently found themselves similarly "captured." Rigorously argued and researched, Uneasy Alliances is a powerful challenge to how we think about the relationship between black voters, political parties, and American democracy.

Author Notes

Paul Frymer is Assistant Professor of Sociology and the Law and
Society Program at University of California, San Diego.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Frymer focuses on African American involvement in presidential politics and examines the "capture" of this voting bloc and its "invisibility" to the voters at large. He argues that party politics is more important than public opinion with regard to race and its importance in American political realities. This party capture has resulted in the marginalization of African Americans and their inability to influence the political system. Frymer assumes that the majority-based electoral system presents a major problem. This system places race at the center of our national party system. Racial cleavage is an important issue that has not been sufficiently examined. The failure to seriously address white racism's impact on the party system causes us to misunderstand how and why African Americans are and remain at the margins for reasons not related to their abilities and potential impact on the American political system. Frymer's book is useful for all libraries, academic and research. A nice companion piece is Walters and Smith's African American Leadership (CH, Jan'00). Upper-division undergraduates and above. P. Barton-Kriese Indiana University East

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Uneasy Alliancesp. 2
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 3
Chapter 2 Competitive Parties and the "invisibility" of Captured Groupsp. 27
Chapter 3 National Party Competition and the Disenfranchisement of Black Voters in the South, 1866-1932p. 49
Chapter 4 Capture Inside the Democratic Party, 1965-1996p. 87
Chapter 5 Party Education and Mobilization and the Captured Groupp. 120
Chapter 6 Black Representation in Congressp. 140
Chapter 7 Is the Concept of Electoral Capture Applicable to Other Groups? the Case of Gay and Lesbian Voters in the Democratic Party and the Christian Right in the Republican Partyp. 179
Indexp. 207