New Jersey Politics and Government: The Suburbs Come of Age

New Jersey Politics and Government: The Suburbs Come of Age

New Jersey Politics and Government: The Suburbs Come of Age

New Jersey Politics and Government: The Suburbs Come of Age


This fourth edition is thoroughly updated to reflect the challenges New Jersey has overcome and those it continues to face: sustaining growth and opportunity in a multicultural society, providing quality education, and protecting the environment. State politics and government have been almost entirely reshaped in recent decades, and those changes are analyzed in every chapter of this edition.

Offering a comprehensive overview of New Jersey politics and government, chapters cover the state's political history; campaigns and elections; interest groups; the constitution; the development of government institutions; relationships with neighboring states, the federal government, and its own municipalities and counties; tax and spending policies; education; and quality of life issues.


Countin’ the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike…. They’ve
all gone to look for America …

—Paul Simon

In 1923, ERNEST Gruening edited a delightful guide for armchair travelers, These United States. Edmund Wilson Jr.—distinguished literary critic and native of Red Bank, New Jersey—contributed the essay entitled “New Jersey: The Slave of Two Cities.” He offered the following thesis: “It is precisely its suburban function which gives New Jersey such character as it has. It is precisely a place where people do not live to develop a society of their own but where they merely pass or sojourn on their way to do something else. Its distinction among eastern states is that it has attained no independent life, that it is the doormat, the servant, and the picnic-ground of the social organisms that drain it.”

In the 1971 preface to a reprint of his 1923 work, Gruening told a new generation of readers that is was important to know “a different America.” He offered but one caveat: “I doubt that Edmund Wilson, Jr…. would find much to change in his ‘New Jersey, the Slave of Two Cities.’” Gruening reflected a common view of New Jersey, but one already becoming out of date. Four decades later, it is almost entirely wrong. It is not that New Jersey is no longer a suburban state. It is that the United States has become a suburban society.

As New Jersey resident Yogi Berra once remarked, “You can observe a lot just by looking.” New Jersey looks different than it did in 1923 or 1971. To be sure, there are still pockets of “the cramped smudgy life of industry” that Wilson described. Parts of the southern Pinelands are still “desolate wilderness.” And certainly a journey to Princeton still means that “one seems to have at last reached a place where no one cares what is happening . . .

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