Grass Roots Politics: Parties, Issues, and Voters, 1854-1983


Richard Jensen offers a new interpretation of the last 180 years of American political history--one seen from the grass roots perspective. He is concerned with the individual voter's relationship to the party, the issues, and the campaigns. He explores the evolution of American political parties in terms of their appeal to individual voters, of the issues selected, and campaign strategies. He examines different voter coalitions that formed and dissolved during the past 175 years and explains the dynamics of group affiliation with one or the other party. He demonstrates how the electorate has modernized over time and assesses the issues raised, and the values challenged by the process of political modernization. Jensen offers his own theory of campaign strategy, sketching its evolution from army-like organization to modern advertising. The second half of the book is a collection of documents describing important political issues and political coalitions through the years. These readings reveal how politicians at the grass roots level thought, what tactics they used, and how the average voter responded to their appeals.


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