Two Parties--Or More? The American Party System

Two Parties--Or More? The American Party System

Two Parties--Or More? The American Party System

Two Parties--Or More? The American Party System


This work answers key questions by first placing the dilemma in the context of recent elections - at both the state and federal level - and by defining the types of minor parties and of the roles they play.


At times one wonders what purpose an Editorial Board serves for a series such as this. For this series, this volume answers that question. We both have served on the Editorial Board for the Dilemmas in American Politics Series since its inception; Sandy Maisel is the series editor, and John Bibby was one of the first scholars he recruited to work with him. By design, the board is composed of leading scholars who have demonstrated an interest in undergraduate education. The goal of the series is to publish high-quality books that will stimulate student interest in introductory courses, to produce supplementary texts that will provide a "realworld" context for the more theoretical material often presented in such courses. The board's role has been to set the direction that the series will take.

The genesis of this book was an Editorial Board meeting at which various potential topics for Dilemmas books were discussed. After listing potential subjects that would be important additions to introductory courses in American government and politics, the board turned to the more difficult task -- suggesting potential authors for the books that were proposed. At this stage the question is always twofold: Who would be a good author to add to the series? Who would be available to write a Dilemmas book in a relatively short period of time?

For each potential topic, several authors were suggested. When the discussion turned to a book on the party system, a topic that had been mentioned at previous meetings but for which no suitable author had been found, the board became strangely silent. Finally, one of our colleagues turned to us and said, "Well, are you guys going to do it or not?" And thus our discussion began.

Of course, our first response to the suggestion was to think of the reasons we should not write this book. The series editor is in a somewhat compromised position if he is also an author: How can he appraise his own work objectively, especially when he is writing with another member of the board? Although we have known each other for more than two decades, we have never worked together on a scholarly project: Was a book of this sort the place to begin? We both had other publishing commitments: Would we have time to give this project its due?

But the reasons the project was intriguing to us were also apparent. This topic was one that we had both been thinking about for many years. Despite the fact that we have been party activists -- one as a Republican and one as a Democrat --

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