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

By Arthur N. Holcombe | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XI
THE FUNCTION OF THE MINOR PARTIES

NOTHING is more surprising, to one who first notes the frequency in the history of national politics with which the "emptiness" of the two great parties is denounced by their critics, than the apparent ease with which the leaders of the major parties have generally managed to hold the bulk of the voters in line in support of the candidates of one or the other of them at congressional and presidential elections. The diversity of interests among the voters of the country is great. The economic groups into which they are divided are numerous and powerful. The complications produced by their various social, racial, and religious differences are grave and stubborn. There would seem to be ample material for many parties. There would seem also to be ample occasion for them. The major party leaders, if their critics may be believed, are largely occupied in evading the issues over which the various groups of voters are most deeply concerned and in denying to the rank and file of the electorate the opportunity to pass judgment upon them. The bipartisan system, its critics say, results in a series of sham battles between two rival sets of politicians, in which those who cast the bulk of the ballots have little to gain beyond the satisfaction of participating on the winning side.

Under such circumstances it might be supposed that the organization of independent parties by groups of voters who cared greatly for their own special interests, or for particular principles upon which in their opinion the public interests might be promoted, would be of frequent

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