Where Have All the Voters Gone? The Fracturing of America's Political Parties

Where Have All the Voters Gone? The Fracturing of America's Political Parties

Where Have All the Voters Gone? The Fracturing of America's Political Parties

Where Have All the Voters Gone? The Fracturing of America's Political Parties

Excerpt

In October 1977 I shared with a group of civic leaders many of the complaints about the current condition of the U. S. parties which are developed in this volume. Near the end of the discussion that followed my presentation, one member of the audience politely but pointedly inquired: "Do you really think that the American political system functioned better in the past than it does now, that everything is in decline?"

No, I don't. In many ways, the U. S. social and political system is now doing a better job responding to the needs of the entire citizenry than at any time in the past.

The fact remains, however, that Americans now feel notably dissatisfied with their primary public institutions. And this dissatisfaction—coming in the face of substantial achievements —seems to result in large measure from a breakdown in one critical institution designed to translate public expectations into public policy: the political parties. It is the argument of this volume that over the past decade and a half the parties have manifested a diminished capability. The party system is not functioning well. It is not doing a good job in performing those tasks which are uniquely its own. This failure carries . . .

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