Parties and Politics: An Institutional and Behavioral Approach

Parties and Politics: An Institutional and Behavioral Approach

Parties and Politics: An Institutional and Behavioral Approach

Parties and Politics: An Institutional and Behavioral Approach

Excerpt

This book is addressed not only to students in "parties" courses but also to their parents and other intelligent laymen who suspect that government may be important, yet feel that everything would be much better if we could just take government out of politics and away from parties and politicians. For such persons, and for anyone who is willing to examine his own political preconceptions, this book tries to do three things.

First, it states the case for regarding political parties and the understandings controlling their behavior as the central political institution linking citizens and groups with the formal structure of government. At the same time, it emphasizes that the party process, however crucial, is only one aspect of the political system. The citizen should discriminate between the several, linked processes of party politics, interest-group politics, opinion formation and communication, and the explicit formulation of public policy.

Secondly, the book seeks to transmit a set of tools with which the student of politics can analyze political processes objectively, rather than wishfully and pejoratively. And it tries to make him want to do so. Most people have strong convictions about the nature and ends of politics. Pressed to take a position, they tend to accept the proposition that the proper function of political science is to enable the student to criticize, articulate, and rationalize his preferences for the "right kind" of political beliefs and values, for the "good" society and politico-economic order. In this view, once the right philosophy or goal is known the rest of politics consists of boring structural detail, mechanical procedures, techniques of getting things done -- a rather nasty, dirty business justified only by the conviction that one believes in the right principles and belongs to the right sort of people. Against this view, the thesis is urged that while there is no absolute distinction between political philosophy and science, it is extraordinarily important for the citizen . . .

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