The Political Parties of To-Day: A Study in Republican and Democratic Politics

By Arthur N. Holcombe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE ECONOMIC BASIS OF NATIONAL POLITICS

THE ambitious and realistic politician who is determined to become a national party leader must not only bear in mind, like ordinary state and local politicians, the constitutional limitations which will affect his ability to carry out his schemes, but must also take into account certain special obstacles interposed by the nature of the federal Union.

Interests, under the American system of government, cannot look to any single center of power for the satisfaction of their wants. For some of the benefits which they may hope to receive from governmental action, they must look to the state and local governments. Others they must obtain, if at all, from the government at Washington. Those interests, therefore, which wish to receive the best service, must support politicians, if possible, who will be influential in state and local as well as in national politics. Politicians who wish to secure the utmost power must be associated with parties which may hope to dominate state and local governments as well as that of the Union.

The national party leader has a double concern with state politics. First, it is important that his party be able to carry his own state, or at least his own congressional district. Secondly, it must have a reasonable hope of carrying a majority of all the states and also of the congressional districts. It is not enough to secure the support of a majority of the voters. It has happened more than

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