Passions and Interests
Political Party Concepts of American Democracy
Gerald M. Pomper
Bridging analysis of political parties and political philosophy, Passions and Interests presents eight conceptual models of political parties with particular relevance to American democracy. Gerald Pomper, an internationally recognized scholar, asks three questions: What meanings are attributed to parties? Empirically, to what extent do American parties fit these concepts? How well do these different models serve democratic interests?
The analysis encompasses a broad range of individuals, including party theorists from Michels to Downs, practitioners such as Martin Van Buren and Woodrow Wilson, and political philosophers from Burke to Lenin. Beginning with Madison's definition, Pomper views parties as varying combinations of passions and interests. He examines, both empirically and normatively, models of party as bureaucratic organization, governing caucus, cause advocate, ideological community, social movement, urban machine, rational office-seeking team, and personal faction.
“Must reading for serious students of political parties, this volume will also interest anyone concerned with the prospects for democratic government.”
“Pomper’s book is well written and provides a panoramic, insightful, and judicious exploration of the various intersecting dimensions between political thought and the study of parties.”
—Journal of Politics
“Passions and Interests is a superb book. It insightfully links American politics research with normative democratic theory. As such, Pomper’s work will likely influence empirical analyses and normative discussions of American parties for a long time.”
—American Review of Politics
“This book will take its place as one of the most important to be published on political parties in this or any decade. In the quality of thought and the intellectual intensity of the arguments made, the range of knowledge applied and the centrality of the issues addressed, and the creativity and originality of the enterprise as a whole, this study is outstanding. At a point in time when political parties worldwide are receiving renewed attention for the essentialness of their contributions to democratic performance, Pomper’s thinking should prove enormously influential. A gem!”
—William Crotty, Northwestern University
“In linking together political theory and political science, Pomper reminds us of the grand tradition of Michels and Ostrogorski. This book is a major contribution to our understanding of democracy by one of America's leading political scientists.”
—Vernon Bogdanor, Brasenose College, Oxford UniversitySee fewer reviews...
In further explorations, he analyzes these party models in the light of the historical record and empirical data on American voting behavior, then compares them to proposals for party reform in the United States. In conclusion, Pomper evaluates the contributions of U.S. political parties to democratic values and presents a program to strengthen the parties as institutions of American democracy.
"The growth of political parties and the extension of democracy proceed along parallel tracks," Pomper contends. "Competitive political parties facilitate, although they do not guarantee, a considerable measure of popular involvement, control, and policy determination. Without them, government is more likely to evidence authoritarianism, violence, and repression."