The Political World of a Small Town: A Mirror Image of American Politics

By Everett Carll Ladd Jr.; Nelson Wikstrom | Go to book overview

in isolation from the intergovernmental system. On this score, Deil S. Wright, a leading and longtime scholar of the intergovernmental system, notes that the system has "been a pervasive feature of the American political system for 30 to 50 years." 59

There has been a good deal of discussion of late among academicians and public administrators concerning alternative modes of public service delivery approaches. This discussion has centered upon contracting between governments, privatization, and the use of volunteers. Contracting between governments for the provision of a service or the joint use of a facility has become especially widespread in America. Indeed, it is through the use of contracts and other forms of incremental change that local governments in metropolitan areas have been partially able to overcome structural difficulties associated with the decentralized governmental structure of the metropolis. 60 Further, the concept of privatization, which extols the virtue of government contracting with the private sector for a service, has gained widespread national attention and enjoyed some measure of implementation success. 61 President George Bush has been a major advocate of the employment of civic-minded volunteers. Contracting, privatization, and the employment of volunteers have long been practiced in West Point.

In sum, the thrust of my argument is simply this: While pecularities are to be found in regard to the politics of other communities, the individual states, and the federal government, the government and politics of West Point constitute, in many significant respects, an accurate reflection of the basic character of American politics as a whole. Political conservatism has come of age throughout America, personal attributes have become a more important factor in deciding the outcome of electoral campaigns, and voting by citizens at all levels of government has suffered a marked decline. Those who hold public office in the United States, overwhelmingly middle- and upper-class in their social status, are drawn from a distinctly small sector of the population. Office holders, at all levels of government, enjoy repeated terms of office, skillfully utilizing the function of constituency service to their political advantage. And all governments throughout the United States are part and parcel of a massive system of intergovernmental relations, with their fortunes irrevocably related to one another. In a larger sense, my observations about the government and politics of West Point are not bound exclusively to that locality, but provide the reader with some insight into the attributes of the larger American political system.


NOTES
1.
The town charter of West Point is derived from the 1973 Acts of the Virginia General Assembly, and subsequent amendments to these acts.
2.
As set forth in the town charter.
3.
Arthur J. Vidich and Joseph Bensman, Small Town in Mass Society: Class,Power, and Religion in a Rural Community

-101-

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The Political World of a Small Town: A Mirror Image of American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - The Small Town as a Political Laboratory 1
  • Notes 5
  • 2 - West Point: History and Community Profile 7
  • Notes 25
  • 3 - West Point: Social Attitudes, Political Culture, and Electoral Behavior 27
  • Notes 56
  • 4 - West Point: Government, Politics, and Public Policy 61
  • Notes 101
  • 5 - Power, Influence, and Policymaking in West Point 105
  • Notes 145
  • 6 - The Chesapeake Corporation and West Point: Chesapeake's Evolving Role in the Political Life of the Community 149
  • Notes 177
  • 7 - West Point's Polyarchy: A Mirror Image of American Politics 181
  • Notes 192
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 209
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