The Political Parties of To-Day: A Study in Republican and Democratic Politics

By Arthur N. Holcombe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE SECTIONAL BASIS OF NATIONAL POLITICS

>THE nature of the American federal system requires the organization of national parties upon a sectional basis. Presidents are elected by an electoral college in which the electors vote by states. Senators are elected by the people, voting again by states. Representatives in the more popular branch of the Congress are apportioned among the states in proportion to their respective numbers of inhabitants, but are elected in districts composed of the inhabitants of more or less compact geographical areas. Power, therefore, lies with the majorities in these districts and in the states. Ambitious and realistic party leaders will ascertain what interests may be able to dominate particular districts and states, and will attach enough of them, if they can, to their respective combinations to obtain control of the federal government. On account of the constitutional limitations upon the power of the federal government, the interests on which national politicians must chiefly depend for support are economic interests, and the economic interests which are able to dominate the most influential sections of the country are the interests which will count for most in national politics. What are the principal interests which may be expected to dominate different sections has been explained, and it remains to consider what are the sections of the country which these interests have dominated and what influence they have had in the operations of the national parties. But before proceeding to these considerations, it is neces

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