Life Of The Parties / Edition 1

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Election year 2000 is an appropriate season to reprise the first major history of American political parties in nearly forty years. In this classic work, James Reichley traces the decline of political parties resulting in divided government and an ineffectual political process—but he also shows us what it will take to restore the party system and how it could work to revitalize our democracy. For the first time in paperback, The Life of the Parties includes updates on third party movements, political cycles and realignments, campaign finance reform, and other recent electoral trends. Citizens disillusioned by years of political disarray will find much to reflect upon in Reichley's monumental analysis of the lessons of party history and our contemporary political predicament.

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Editorial Reviews

Hugh Sidey
Good for Jim Reichley, a calm and intelligent voice in our era of political darkness. He gives a delightful short course on where political parties come from and why they are necessary. He does not dodge the difficulties of today's system but, thank God, he is not overwhelmed by despair. This is a book of hope for strong, meaningful politics, the life blood of democracy.
Richard M. Valelly
The culmination of a lifetime of reflection on American politics, The Life of the Parties carries authority not least because Reichley himself was a practitioner of the art of government. Combining a truly rare knowledge of political history, a keen eye for telling detail, and a wealth of fresh and original research, he provides us not only with a sober, judiciously argued warning about the health of American politics, but with a positive account intended to set an agenda for feasible reform.
Larry J. Sabato
Reichley's rich history of the party system is especially appropriate for these unhappy times, when so many are questioning the parties' worth. One cannot read Reichley's work without condcluding that the political parties—imperfect instruments though they be—have generally been and still are worthwhile and essential institutions in American life. All readers will find this exceptionally thoughtful and detailed volume as enlightening as it is intriguing.
Charles O. Jones
Praise for the original edition of The Life of the Parties

It is hard to imagine a better time than now for reexamining American political parties. In The Life of the Parties, A. James Reichley shows us how parties have developed and how they have managed 'incompatible ideological traditions.' The forthcoming debates on the future of American political parties will be informed by Reichley's careful and well-written study.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reichley, a former political editor of Fortune , contends that the two-party system in the U.S. still offers voters a meaningful choice. The Democratic and Republican parties, he argues, represent a natural division between competing ideological traditions going back to the conflict over ratification of the Constitution in the 1780s. While he is not likely to persuade the disaffected, this colorful, careful history of American party politics does pinpoint two distinct traditions: a liberal creed extending from antifederalists to modern Democrats, stressing economic and social equality; and a republican (or conservative) ethos, from Federalists and Whigs to Republicans, emphasizing free-market capitalism, individual rights and traditional morality. Reichley, who opposes a multi-party system, maintains that party politics, now in decline, can be reinvigorated. His recommendations to that end include free TV and radio time for candidates, outlawing of political action committees, and a new presidential convention system whereby all members of Congress and all governors would automatically become delegates, with national primaries to elect additional delegates. (Aug.)
Library Journal
There could hardly be a more appropriate time for Reichley's cogent analysis of the development of our two parties and their futures as H. Ross Perot campaigns as the ultimate outsider ``tainted by neither major political party.'' As one would expect of a Brookings scholar of his reputation, Reichley has produced an in-depth study, tracing the development of political parties from the early Federalists (pre-GOP) and the Jeffersonian-Republicans (later Democrats) of the founding era through the post-Civil War period (1860-1932) of Republican domination to the New Deal Democrats and, finally, to the ``contemporary'' system. Reichley contends that the current state of deterioration evident in political parties can be first traced to such ``progressive''-era reforms as the Australian secret ballot, direct primaries, and limited voter eligibility to cut fraud. He notes the rapid erosion of support for both parties in the 1970s and 1980s and describes the increasing funding and clout of the two National Committees. He also tells why parties are necessary and how they might be rebuilt. Highly recommended.-- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Presents a history of the origin and development of political parties. Argues that the work and creed of American democracy have been carried forward by two great contending but not incompatible ideological traditions, the republican and the liberal; and that parties are now endangered by cultural, legal, and technological changes in American life. Describes and analyzes crucial episodes in the evolution of American parties, and comments on recent developments in the life of the parties at the national, state, and local levels. A final chapter examines developments during the 1990s. Reichley is senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742508880
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: Subsequent
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 710,580
  • Product dimensions: 0.92 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

A. James Reichley is senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The American Two-Party System Part 2 From the Founding to the Civil War Chapter 3 Intention of the Founders: A Polity without Parties Chapter 4 The First Parties: Federalists and Republicans Chapter 5 One-Party Hegemony: The Jeffersonians Chapter 6 Formation of Mass Parties: Democrats and Whigs Part 7 The Republican Era Chapter 8 Party Government: The Civil War Republicans Chapter 9 Machine Politics: The Gilded Age Chapter 10 Third-Party Challenge: Populist Uprising Chapter 11 Reaction against Parties: The Progressive Era Chapter 12 The Progressive Legacy, City Machines, and the Solid South Chapter 13 The President as Party Leader: Woodrow Wilson Part 14 The New Deal Era Chapter 15 A Functioning Majority Party: The New Deal Chapter 16 Vehicles of Opposition Chapter 17 Fission of Party Coalitions Chapter 18 Decline of State and Local Machines Chapter 19 Movement Politics: The Republican Hard Right Chapter 20 Reform Politics: Amateur Democrats Part 21 Contemporary Parties Chapter 22 The New Giants: National Party Organizations Chapter 23 State Parties: Seeking New Roles Chapter 24 Local Parties: Getting Along without Patronage Chapter 25 Rebuilding the Parties

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