Changing Party Coalitions: The Mystery of the Red State-Blue State Alignment

By Jerry F. Hough | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The book is not a distillation of the conventional wisdom on American politics and history. I have a very unusual perspective for a scholar writing about the evolution of the American political system. From the mid-1950s until the mid-1990s I was known as a specialist on comparative government, first of all, on the Soviet Union. I abandoned teaching and research on Russia in the late 1990s, and I have only taught the courses on the US Presidency at Duke University since then. This book essentially expands on what I have been teaching.

The change in the focus of my research and teaching did not, however, change the basic questions that I have worked on since the mid-1950s: the relationship of long term economic development and political institutions. This was the central question about the Soviet Union at the time of Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953 when I was a college undergraduate, and it was always the focus of my work on the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia.

The goal of my recent work has been to look at the American experience in order better to understand the way that states, markets, and democracies develop and the way in which effective and stable ones can be created and maintained. The American experience is not incorporated in the theories of comparative politics and nation-building because it has been too encased in mythology. The taboos were created to help solve the North-South conflict and the antagonistic relationship of European-American “races.” Now that these problems have been solved, it is time to break the taboos.

My interest in American politics and history did not begin in the 1990s. My first memory of public events was hearing the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when I was a six-year-old in Bremerton, Washington, the great naval port on the West Coast. I saw the submarine nets on the ferry trips to Seattle,

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