Class and Party in American Politics

By Jeffrey M. Stonecash | Go to book overview

tions favor Republicans. Equally significant trends suggest there is an electoral base for the Democrats. The crucial matter is how political parties respond to divergent trends and how the electorate responds to the parties. In Chapter 4 I turn to how parties have changed over time and how their primary policies have evolved.


NOTES
1.
As in Chapter 2, North includes Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The South includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. All others are placed in the "other" category.
2.
The states running from Maine to Pennsylvania across to Illinois and up to Wisconsin (Bernard and Bradley 1985: 7).
3.
There is clear evidence that what has changed over time is a steady decline in births among married white and black women, and a stable birth rate (number of children born per 100,000 women in the child-bearing years) among unmarried women. Reynonlds Farley, "Recent Trends in Births to Unmarried Women", testimony presented to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Washington, D.C., October 19, 1993. The consequence is that, of those children being born, an increasing proportion are illegitimate, which leads to the statistic that over 60 percent of all black children born are illegitimate. This does not mean there is no problem of illegitimate children, but it means that it is not a simple case of more and more black women having illegitimate children. The difference is significant in that it is not all black women who are having illegitimate children, as the statistic implies.

The same ambiguity surrounds the divorce rate. It is regularly implied that we have entered an era where a growing proportion of marriages end in divorce, and that was not true in the past. Coontz ( 1992) argues that it is not that simple. The divorce rates of the 1950s were abnormally low, and the rates since then are perhaps more typical of prior eras than many acknowledge, or are aware of. The presumed decline in SAT scores is also questioned by some, who argue that the proportion of the public taking the tests has increased, and it is not appropriate to compare test scores taken by the best students in the 1960s with test scores taken by a broader cross-section that is less prepared. The point is that the apparent decline is perhaps not as simple and obvious as some commentators regularly imply.

4.
Although it is widely asserted that social and cultural issues and values matter, perhaps more than in the past, it is unclear why this is so often presented as if this means that the Democratic Party is in trouble. That is generally the implication, but there are two difficulties with that conclusion. First, surveys that are drawn on to document this rarely include questions about crucial economic issues. Works like Wattenberg's rarely include responses to questions about the importance of equality of opportunity in American society, about perceptions of whether the extent of equality of opportunity has changed over time, or whether

-41-

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Class and Party in American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Transforming American Politics ii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Inequality and Political Debate: the Failed Role of Democrats 1
  • 2 - The Puzzling Survival of Democrats 9
  • Notes 16
  • 3 - Social Change and Anticipating Party Fortunes 17
  • Notes 41
  • 4 - Evolving Party Constituencies and Concerns 43
  • Notes 84
  • 5 - Electoral Response and Realignment 87
  • Notes 118
  • 6 - Reconsidering Party and Issues in American Politics 123
  • Notes 140
  • Appendix - The Analysis of Class Divisions in American Politics 141
  • Notes 157
  • References 159
  • Index 183
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