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American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony / Edition 1

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Overview


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.

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Editorial Reviews

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Professor Huntington has brilliantly set forth the persisting conflict between American ideals and American institutions which can energize our society or paralyze it, depending on whether it is understood for what it is. A liberating insight; a brilliant book.
Austin Ranney
Samuel Huntington is not only a preeminent scholar of modern governing institutions and their underlying ideas, democratic and otherwise; he has also often served as adviser to policymakers in several nations, including our own. His book should be read by everyone who is concerned with the capacity of our institutions to meet the fearful challenges they now face.
Seymour Martin Lipset
This controversial book will spark considerable debate about American values, the origins and meaning of reform, and foreign policy. It will influence current discussions of the United States, and it will change the way we think about American political and social behavior.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674030213
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/4/2004
  • Series: Belknap Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,456,761
  • Product dimensions: 0.71 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel P. Huntington was Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University, and the author of Political Order in Changing Societies.
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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

The Legacies

Reform and the IvI Gap

Institutional Realignment

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

Notes

Index

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