Broken Contract? Changing Relationships between Americans and Their Government

By Stephen C. Craig | Go to book overview

contributed to the Republican takeover in Congress. The GOP's Contract with America and its focus on issues of major concern to the middle class also were central to the party's victory. The contract showed how a political party can run a successful party-based campaign in a candidate-centered election system; the Democrats' failure to provide an appropriate response hints at the hurdles that must be overcome before any party can develop a national agenda. In short, the contract helped to define what may prove to be the newest battlefield of party competition in the era of mass-party politics.


NOTES

This chapter is based largely on observations made during our service as American Political Science Association congressional fellows. We wish to thank the Association for giving us the opportunity to participate in the legislative process and observe the inner workings of Congress.

1.
As we use it, the term "mass politics" refers simply to a system in which a large number of citizens participates in the policy process without the intermediation of overtly political institutions such as political parties.
2.
For a thorough description of political life in an urban machine, see Rakove ( 1975); for further discussion of the factors leading to the decline of machines, see Pomper, Forth, and Moakley ( 1982).
3.
Patronage here is defined narrowly to mean the awarding of government jobs to members of the winning party.
4.
In addition to the rise of the national civil service, which dramatically reduced the number of positions that parties had at their disposal, labor reform at the state and local levels provided protection to workers who might previously have been fired for purely political reasons. Many areas also began using nonpartisan elections to fill a large number of state and county governmental jobs. Finally, Social Security and other social programs originating during the New Deal period deprived the party of its opportunity to provide a wide range of economic benefits to supporters.
5.
Some of the groundwork that contributed to a revitalization of the Republican national party organizations was laid in the late 1960s by RNC chairman Ray Bliss, who pioneered the use of direct-mail fundraising.
6.
The supply-side school of economics holds that reductions in tax rates will foster economic growth not only by stimulating demand but also by spurring work, savings, and investment. Although supply-side principles were embraced by many conservatives, especially during the early 1980s, economists strongly disagree about their validity.
7.
A "special order" speech is a procedure under which members may address the House on any subject when legislative business is not being considered. Such a speech (often delivered before a near-empty chamber) is limited to one hour in length.
8.
In passing, we note that 18 USC 1913 forbids any federal money to be used "directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter. . . to influence in any manner a Member of Congress to favor or oppose by vote or otherwise, any legislation or appropriation by Congress" -- which is why legislative liaisons at the White House and in government agencies maintain the legal fiction that they merely provide information to (as opposed to seeking influence with) Congress.

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