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What Did They Wish For? Party Government, Polarization and the American Political Science Association

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2020

MARK WICKHAM-JONES*
Affiliation:
School for Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol. Email: M.Wickham@bristol.ac.uk.

Extract

In tracing the development of increased polarization in the United States, numerous scholars have noted the apparent importance of the American Political Science Association's (APSA's) Committee on Political Parties. The committee's influential (and often criticized) report, Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System, called for a wholesale transformation of political parties in the United States. On its publication in October 1950, political scientists quickly concluded that, taken together, the committee's recommendations represented a reworking of a distinct approach, usually known as “party government” or “responsible party government.” (The origins of responsible parties dated back to Woodrow Wilson's classic 1885 text Congressional Government.) Since then, the notion of party government has become a core issue in the study of American political parties, albeit a contentious one. A recent survey ranked the APSA document at seventh as a canonical text in graduate syllabi concerning parties.

Type
Review Essay
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and British Association for American Studies 2020

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References

1 American Political Science Association, Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System, American Political Science Review, 44, 3 (Sept. 1950), supplement.

2 The classic statement (and critique) was Ranney, Austin, The Doctrine of Responsible Party Government (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1954)Google Scholar.

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6 Rosenfeld, Sam, The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018)Google Scholar. See David Frum, “How the American Two-Party System Became So Divided,” The Atlantic, 8 April 2018, at www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/the-polarizers-interview/557288; Fred Siegel, “Our Political Chasm,” City Journal, 12 April 2018, at www.city-journal.org/html/our-political-chasm-15810.html; and Barton Swaim, “How Battle Lines Were Drawn,” Wall Street Journal, 16 Feb. 2018, at https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-battle-lines-were-drawn-1518819106.

7 Hacker and Pierson, Off Center, 185–86.

8 Ibid., 187, original emphasis.

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15 David Schleicher, “Things Aren't Going That Well Over There Either: Party Polarization and Election Law in Comparative Perspective,” University of Chicago Legal Forum, 2015, Article 13, 433–75, 442.

16 See, among many others, Barber, Michael and McCarty, Nolan, “Causes and Consequences of Polarization,” in Persily, Nathaniel, ed., Solutions to Political Polarization in America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 1558CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 38–41; David Karol, “American Political Parties: Exceptional No More,” in ibid., 208–17, 214; Fiorina, Morris with Abrams, Samuel, Disconnect: The Breakdown of Presentation in American Politics (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009), 149–59Google Scholar; and Brady, David and Han, Hahrie, “Our Politics May Be Polarized but That Is Nothing New,” in Hopkins, Daniel and Sides, John, eds., Political Polarization in American Politics (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 137–43Google Scholar, 142. See also Hetherington, Marc, “Putting Polarization in Perspective,” British Journal of Political Science, 39 (2009), 413–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 427; and Noel, Hans, Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 195–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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25 Rosenfeld, The Polarizers, 155, 159.

26 Skid, “Two Pathways for Congressional Reform,” 34.

27 Wickham-Jones, Mark, Whatever Happened to Party Government? Controversies in American Political Science (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018), 711CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 239–44.

28 Ibid., 238, 286.

29 APSA, Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System, 94, 95.

30 TRB (Strout's pseudonym), “Coming Unstuck,” Baltimore Sun, 30 April 1980, A19. See also, for example, Richard Strout, “Congress Could Help Itself,” Christian Science Monitor, 2 Jan. 1953, 22; and Strout, “Fed Up with the Lame-Duck Session? Blame George III,” Christian Science Monitor, 22 Dec. 1982, 3.

31 Congressional Record, 23 Feb. 1959, 2544–50, esp. 2546; and 19 March 1959, 4141–45, esp. 4142.

32 Rosenfeld, 4.

33 Mark Wickham-Jones, “Political Science and Policy Advice: The American Political Science Association and the Truman Administration, 1950–1952” (2018), mimeo.

34 Presidential Commission on Registration and Voting Participation, Report, 1963. See also the archive material on the commission at the Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston.

35 David, Paul T., “The APSA Committee on Political Parties: Some Reconsiderations of Its Work and Significance,” Perspectives on Political Science, 21, 2 (1992), 7079CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 Wickham-Jones, Whatever Happened to Party Government?, 232, 285.

37 E. E. Schattschneider, “Something Personal,” unpublished paper, undated but c.1960, 3. See Wickham-Jones, Whatever Happened to Party Government?, 285.

38 David, 76.

39 Paul David, interview, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, 31 March 1992, 51, and 8 April 1992, 6.

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41 Rosenfeld, 232.

42 See Donald Spritzer, “New Dealer from Montana: The Senate Career of James E. Murray,” PhD thesis, University of Montana, 1980, 257–58.

43 See Gross, Bertram, “How Congress Saw It,” Bill of Rights Journal., 29 (1996), 2224Google Scholar, at https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/blorij29&div=8&g_sent=1&casa_token=&collection=journals. See also Bailey, Stephen, Congress Makes a Law (New York: Columbia University Press, 1950), 125CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

44 Wickham-Jones, Whatever Happened to Party Government?, 82, 271.

45 Schattschneider, 3.

46 Bertram Gross, Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, “Hearings on the Organization and Operation of Congress,” 82nd Congress (June 1951), 271–85, 271.

47 Rosenfeld, 4.

48 Schattschneider, 6.

49 Rosenfeld, 4.

50 Harmel, Robert, Giebert, Matthew and Janda, Kenneth, American Parties in Context (New York: Routledge, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 94–95.

51 Hacker and Pierson, Off Center, 212–14, 218–19.

52 APSA, Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System, 74–77.

53 Bryon E. Shafer, Quiet Revolution: The Struggle for the Democratic Party and the Shaping of Post-reform Politics (New York: Russell Sage, 1983), 165–67.

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62 Dykeman, Wilma and Stokely, James, Seeds of Southern Change: The Life of Will Alexander (New York: Norton, 1976), 299303Google Scholar.

63 The Stern Fund (New York: Institute for Media Analysis, 1992), 22.

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