The Dynamics of American Politics: Approaches and Interpretations

By Lawrence C. Dodd; Calvin Jillson | Go to book overview

peal: In each instance where we attempt to construct a developmental narrative, we should ask the question, Of what use is development to its author? For example, a developmental presidency was once a major ideological fulcrum for the New Deal liberals. Now the fulcrum and the lever seem to be securely in the hands of the Right. But the really unhappy news is that most everyone, Left or Right, is in agreement on the developmental presidency because each seems to need it to justify a heroic presidency to fulfill its own social program. That is the ideology of the innocents.

The new institutionalism and the revived use of history and development make for a much more powerful, more interesting, and more political political science. But let us be sure that the added power is analytic and not ideological. Let us not be guilty of innocently contributing to any ideology -- whether it be in the service of order, or rationality, or of some particular party's program. Our job is to expose ideologies in all their contradictions, not to give them the stamp of science.

Heresies having been identified, let the inquisition begin.


NOTES
1
Two clarifying comments. First, I could also add the term "state," but it is a term of art whose standards are adequately met by the other terms, especially "institution." Second, some scholars search through history to locate a large number of cases for purposes of comparison. Whatever its virtues, this is not really history, since time is not a relevant factor in the analysis.
2
Ralph Ketcham, "The Jefferson Presidency and Constitutional Beginnings", in Martin Fausold and Alan Shank (eds.), The Constitution and the American Presidency ( Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1991), p. 6.
3
Robert V. Remini, "The Constitution and the Presidencies: The Jackson Era", in ibid., p. 30.
4
Barron v. Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243 ( 1833).
5
McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316 ( 1819).
6
Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1 ( 1824); Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S.393 ( 1857).
7
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S.394 ( 1886).
8
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad v. Chicago, 166 U.S.226 ( 1897).

-xvii-

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