The New Direction in American Politics

The New Direction in American Politics

The New Direction in American Politics

The New Direction in American Politics

Excerpt

THE LANDSLIDE victories of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 elections have raised once again the question that has stymied election analysts for the last twenty years: is the United States undergoing a major electoral realignment? The country has experienced five realignments before, most recently during the New Deal. Given the sequence of erroneous realignment predictions in the 1960s and 1970s, the safe answer is that it is too early to tell. But perhaps the question is itself erroneous. The important issue, this volume suggests, is not whether current voting patterns will remain intact over the long run, but whether the electoral change that has already occurred has set in course a series of institutional and policy changes that have shifted the terms of political debate. Is government now being moved in a new direction that is unlikely to be reversed by subsequent elections?

Taking the more comprehensive view of realignment implied by this question, this book analyzes the principal components of the political system--from voting and elections to institutions and major policies. Each essay compares developments during the 1980s to trends that were in place before President Reagan took office. The findings reported in these essays show the forces for change to be preponderant, though they have encountered strong stabilizing institutions. Change has been most evident in voter loyalties, party organization, campaign finance, senatorial elections, and presidential politics. Indeed, with the increasing capacity of the executive branch to dominate the policy agenda, and with a president and a governing party holding a clear vision of what goals and policies to place on that agenda, the changes have been extensive, and the consequences profound. Even though continuity is strong in the House of Representatives and state government, these . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.