American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony / Edition 1by Samuel P. Huntington
Pub. Date: 02/04/2004
This stunningly persuasive book examines the persistent, radical gap between the promise of American ideals and the performance of American politics. Samuel P. Huntington shows how Americans, throughout their history as a nation, have been united by the democratic creed of liberty, equality, and hostility to authority. At the same time he reveals how, inevitably,… See more details below
This stunningly persuasive book examines the persistent, radical gap between the promise of American ideals and the performance of American politics. Samuel P. Huntington shows how Americans, throughout their history as a nation, have been united by the democratic creed of liberty, equality, and hostility to authority. At the same time he reveals how, inevitably, these ideals have been perennially frustrated through the institutions and hierarchies required to carry on the essential functions of governing a democratic society.
From this antagonism between the ideals of democracy and the realities of power have risen four great political upheavals in American history. Every third generation, Huntington argues, Americans have tried to reconstruct their institutions to make them more truly reflect deeply rooted national ideals. Moving from the clenched fists and mass demonstrations of the 1960s, to the moral outrage of the Progressive and Jacksonian Eras, back to the creative ideological fervor of the American Revolution, he incisively analyzes the dissenters' objectives.
All, he pungently writes, sought to remove the fundamental disharmony between the reality of government in America and the ideals on which the American nation was founded.
Huntington predicts that the tension between ideals and institutions is likely to increase in this country in the future. And he reminds us that the fate of liberty and democracy abroad is intrinsically linked to the strength of our power in world affairs.
This brilliant and controversial analysis deserves to rank alongside the works of Tocqueville, Bryce, and Hofstadter and will become a classic commentary on the meaning of America.
Table of Contents
1. The Disharmonic Polity
"Our Practice of Your Principles"
The One, the Two, and the Many:
Structural Paradigms of American Politics
Ideals versus Institutions
2. The American Creed and National Identity
Political Thought in America
Sources, Scope, and Stability of the Creed
Political Ideas and National Identity
3. The Gap: The American Creed versus Political
Authority Consensus and Instability
The Gap in Comparative Perspective
4. Coping with the Gap
The American Case of Cognitive Dissonance
Patterns of Response
The Gap and American Political Style
5. The Politics of Creedal Passion
Creedal Passion Periods in American History
The Climate of Creedal Passion
Creedal Conflict: The Movement and the Establishment
Reform and its Limits
Political Earthquakes and Realignment
6. The Sources of Creedal Passion
Why Creedal Passion Periods?
General Sources: Comparable Phenomena in Other Societies
Specific Sources: The Timing of Creedal Passion Periods
Original Sources: The Roots of It All in the English Revolution
The Protestantism of American Politics
7. The S&S Years, 1960-1975
From the Fifties to the Seventies: The Changing Pattern of Response
Complacency and the End(?) of Ideology
Interlude of Hypocrisy, Surge of Moralism
The Mobilization of Protest
The Dynamics of Exposure
Reform and the IvI Gap
The Misuse and Erosion of Authority
Cynicism and the Restoration of Authority
8. The Viability of American Ideals and Institutions
The Future of the Gap
History versus Progress?
America versus the World?
Power and Liberty: The Myth of American Repression
The Promise of Disappointment
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