Responsible Partisanship?

The Evolution of American Political Parties Since 1950

John C. Green and Paul S. Herrnson

More than fifty years have passed since the American Political Science Association published "Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System," a controversial report that addressed the lack of national cohesion within the major parties. Although parties have changed a great deal since then, they remain a critical component of American democracy.

While the possibilities and limits of responsible party government have been central topics in the literature since 1950, this book is the first to reassess all aspects of the APSA report. Here a distinguished group of scholars—among them Charles O. Jones, Barbara Sinclair, Frank J. Sorauf, John Bibby, and Gerald Pomper—examine the effectiveness, accountability, and relevance of parties to the democratic process.

“These essays remind us that political reform is never a simple matter and should be undertaken with due caution, lest we get what we wish for.

—Perspectives on Politics

“A thoughtful, tough-minded look at where we are today and how we got there. A most impressive and welcome contribution.”

—William J. Crotty, author of The Party Game

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These articles cover all major relevant topics, focusing on recent changes in laws that govern parties, innovations in party organization, party finance, and the relationships among political consultants and parties. They examine the place of the party in government-including chapters on the changing role of parties in Congress and in the presidency-and also consider the roles of parties among the electorate, examining trends in voting behavior, party identification, and ideology. A capstone essay by Leon Epstein, the dean of American party scholars, reviews the ongoing quest for responsible partisanship over the past half century.

These contributors offer a mixed assessment of the two-party system, showing that parties are in many respects stronger at the national level than they were in 1950 but not necessarily more responsible. The most comprehensive description and analysis of American parties now available, Responsible Partisanship? should become required reading for all students and citizens concerned with making parties more accountable instruments of government.

About the Author

John C. Green is director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and professor of political science at the University of Akron. He is coauthor of The Bully Pulpit: The Politics of Protestant Clergy and coeditor of The State of the Parties, now in its fourth edition. Paul S. Herrnson is director of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship and professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington and Party Campaigning in the 1980s.

Additional Titles in the Studies in Government and Public Policy Series