1
The South and American Party Factionalism

Intraparty factionalism is one of the most understudied areas of American political science. Although we have strong evidence of increasingly polarized, coherent, and durable party factions in both the national Republican and Democratic parties, an overall analysis of American party factionalism is still lacking. The remainder of this chapter is an attempt to arrive at such an analysis by looking at the nature of factionalism in the Republican and Democratic parties today.


Factions and Factionalism

Before embarking on this task, however, it is necessary to consider what precisely is meant by the term faction. In classical republican usage, faction was almost always used pejoratively to refer to self-interested groups of persons who sought to manipulate the polity for their own ends rather than the common good. As such, factions were generally condemned as a danger to the health of the republic as a whole. 1 This usage of the term was still current when critics of the British government in the early eighteenth century led by Lord Bolingbroke condemned the patronage-oriented "factional" politics of Robert Walpole's regime. 2 Indeed, in his remarks on the evils of factionalism, Bolingbroke made no distinction between parties and factions, seeing the latter as simply the most degenerate case of the former:

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