The Right to Life Movement and Third Party Politics

By Robert J. Spitzer | Go to book overview

1
SINGLE-ISSUE PARTIES IN AMERICAN HISTORY

Casting the light of history on contemporary occurrences does much to illuminate both past and present. In the case of political analysis, historical perspective can help rectify analytic myopia, lend continuity to apparent idiosyncrasy, and reveal intricacy in seemingly formless phenomena.

This chapter will examine four single-issue parties, all originating in the nineteenth century. In doing so, it will constitute a unique and detailed comparison of the single-issue thrust in the electoral realm. The fact that none of the cases considered here occurred in the twentieth century (although the Prohibition Party still exists today) is not a matter of mere chance. By at least one accounting, the likelihood of issue-centered minor parties, as opposed to candidate-centered parties, declined in this century because of a similar shift in emphasis from parties and party organizations to candidates as the pivot points for the major parties. 1 Clearly, the freewheeling nature of electoral politics in the nineteenth century has not continued to the present. At the same time, however, single-issue movements are no less prevalent in this century than the last. Structural and other changes have merely channeled these political energies into other outlets. The movements themselves, and their underlying bases, remain interesting and important; and the presence of a modern-day single-issue party (even one with a modest geographical base, such as the Right to Life Party) suggests the desirability, if not the intellectual necessity, of comparison with past similar parties.

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The Right to Life Movement and Third Party Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Exhibits ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 3
  • 1 - Single-Issue Parties in American History 5
  • Notes 32
  • 2 - A Party is Born: Abortion and the Right to Life Party 39
  • Notes 74
  • 3 - Activists and Identifiers 81
  • Summary 100
  • 4 - Party Decay, Party Renewal, and Hybrid Multi-Partyism 107
  • Notes 126
  • Epilogue 133
  • Notes 135
  • Appendix 1 137
  • Appendix 2 140
  • Bibliography 141
  • Index 149
  • About the Author 155
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