Politics of the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from American politics)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Politics of the United States
Greater coat of arms of the United States.svg
Polity typeFederal presidential constitutional republic
ConstitutionUnited States Constitution
FormationMarch 4, 1789; 233 years ago (1789-03-04)
Legislative branch
NameCongress
TypeBicameral
Meeting placeCapitol
Upper house
NameSenate
Presiding officerKamala Harris, Vice President & President of the Senate
AppointerDirect Election
Lower house
NameHouse of Representatives
Presiding officerNancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives
AppointerFirst-past-the-post voting
Executive branch
Head of State and Government
TitlePresident
CurrentlyJoe Biden
AppointerElectoral College
Cabinet
NameCabinet of the United States
Current cabinetCabinet of Joe Biden
LeaderPresident
Deputy leaderVice President
AppointerPresident
HeadquartersWhite House
Ministries15
Judicial branch
NameFederal judiciary of the United States
CourtsCourts of the United States
Supreme Court
Chief judgeJohn Roberts
SeatSupreme Court Building

The politics of the United States function within a framework of a constitutional federal republic and presidential system, with three distinct branches that share powers. These are: the U.S. Congress which forms the legislative branch, a bicameral legislative body comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate; the executive branch which is headed by the President of the United States, who serves as country's head of state and government; and the Judiciary branch, composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, and which exercises judicial power.

Each of the 50 individual state governments have the power to make laws within their jurisdictions that are not granted to the federal government nor denied to the states in the U.S. Constitution. Each state also has a constitution following the pattern of the federal Constitution but differing in details. Each have three branches: an executive branch headed by a Governor, a legislative body, and judicial branch. At the local level, governments are found in (counties or county-equivalents, and beneath them individual municipalities, townships, school districts, and special districts).

Officials are popularly elected at the federal, state and local levels, with the major exception being the President, who is instead elected indirectly by the people through the Electoral College. U.S. politics is dominated by two-parties, which since the American Civil War have been the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, although other parties have run candidates. Since the mid-20th Century, the Democratic Party has generally supported left-of-center policies, while the Republican Party has generally supported right-of-center ones. Though, both parties have no formal central organization at the national level that controls membership, elected officials or political policies, thus each party has traditionally had factions and individuals that deviated from party positions.

Almost all public officials in America are elected from single-member districts and win office by winning a plurality of votes cast (i.e. more than any other candidate, but not necessarily a majority). Suffrage is nearly universal for citizens 18 years of age and older.

Ongoing concerns include lack of representation in the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia; fear that the interests of some are overrepresented, while others are underrepresented; a fear that certain features of the American political system make it less democratic, a fear that a small cultural elite has undermined traditional values, and whether policy and law-making is dominated by a small economic elite molding it to their interests. Greater representation given to small states in the Senate and the Electoral College, "first-past-the-post" voting, gerrymandering, etc.—have in recent years had a more extreme effect and have begun to create a disconnect between what the government does (in legislation and court rulings) and what the majority of Americans want.[1]

The Economist Intelligence Unit rated United States a "flawed democracy" in 2021.[2]

Federal government[edit]

Political system of the United States

The United States is a constitutional federal republic, in which the president (the head of state and head of government), Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.

The federal government is divided into three branches, as per the specific terms articulated in the U.S. Constitution:

The federal government's layout is explained in the Constitution. Two political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, have dominated American politics since the American Civil War, although other parties have existed.

There are major differences between the political system of the United States and that of many other developed countries, including:

  • an upper legislative house (the Senate), with much more power than is found in equivalent bodies in most other countries;
  • a Supreme Court that also has a wider scope of power than is found in most countries;
  • a separation of powers between the legislature and the executive; and
  • a political landscape dominated by only two main parties. The United States is one of the world's only developed countries where all additional parties have minimal or nonexistent influence and almost no representation at the national and state level. Causes for this mainly focus on the plurality-based first-past-the-post voting system, used in most elections, which encourages strategic voting and discourages vote splitting. This also results in both major parties having multiple internal factions.

The federal entity created by the U.S. Constitution is the dominant feature of the American governmental system, as citizens are also subject to a state government and various units of local government (such as counties, municipalities, and special districts).

State government[edit]

State governments have the power to make laws on all subjects that are not granted to the federal government nor denied to the states in the U.S. Constitution. These include education, family law, contract law, and most crimes. Unlike the federal government, which only has those powers granted to it in the Constitution, a state government has inherent powers allowing it to act unless limited by a provision of the state or national constitution.

Like the federal government, state governments have three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The chief executive of a state is its popularly elected governor, who typically holds office for a four-year term (although in some states the term is two years). Except for Nebraska, which has unicameral legislature, all states have a bicameral legislature, with the upper house usually called the Senate and the lower house called the House of Representatives, the Assembly or something similar. In most states, senators serve four-year terms, and members of the lower house serve two-year terms.

The constitutions of the various states differ in some details but generally follow a pattern similar to that of the federal Constitution, including a statement of the rights of the people and a plan for organizing the government. However, state constitutions are generally more detailed.

At the state and local level, the process of initiatives and referendums allow citizens to place new legislation on a popular ballot, or to place legislation that has recently been passed by a legislature on a ballot for a popular vote. Initiatives and referendums, along with recall elections and popular primary elections, are signature reforms of the Progressive Era; they are written into several state constitutions, particularly in the Western states, but not found at the federal level.

Local government[edit]

The United States Census Bureau conducts the Census of Governments every five years, categorizing four types of local governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state:[3]

  1. County governments
  2. Town or township governments
  3. Municipal governments
  4. Special-purpose local governments, including both school districts and other special districts

In 2010, there were 89,500 total local governments, including 3,033 counties, 19,492 municipalities, 16,500 townships, 13,000 school districts, and 37,000 other special districts.[4] Local governments directly serve the needs of the people, providing everything from police and fire protection to sanitary codes, health regulations, education, public transportation, and housing. Typically local elections are nonpartisan — local activists suspend their party affiliations when campaigning and governing.[5]

County government[edit]

The county is the administrative subdivision of the state, authorized by state constitutions and statutes. The county equivalents in Louisiana are called parishes, while those in Alaska are called boroughs.

The specific governmental powers of counties vary widely between the states. In some states, mainly in New England, they are primarily used as judicial districts. In other states, counties have broad powers in housing, education, transportation and recreation. County government has been eliminated throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and in parts of Massachusetts; while the Unorganized Borough area of Alaska (which makes up about a half of the area of the state) does not operated under a county-level government at all. In areas that do not have any county governmental function and are simply a division of land, services are provided either by lower level townships or municipalities, or the state.

Counties may contain a number of cities, towns, villages, or hamlets. Some cities—including Philadelphia, Honolulu, San Francisco, Nashville, and Denver—are consolidated city-counties, where the municipality and the county have been merged into a unified, coterminous jurisdiction—that is to say, these counties consist in their entirety of a single municipality whose city government also operates as the county government. Some counties, such as Arlington County, Virginia, do not have any additional subdivisions. Some states contain independent cities that are not part of any county; although it may still function as if it was a consolidated city-county, an independent city was legally separated from any county. Some municipalities are in multiple counties; New York City is uniquely partitioned into five boroughs that are each coterminous with a county.

In most U.S. counties, one town or city is designated as the county seat, and this is where the county government offices are located and where the board of commissioners or supervisors meets. In small counties, boards are chosen by the county; in the larger ones, supervisors represent separate districts or townships. The board collects taxes for state and local governments; borrows and appropriates money; fixes the salaries of county employees; supervises elections; builds and maintains highways and bridges; and administers national, state, and county welfare programs. In very small counties, the executive and legislative power may lie entirely with a sole commissioner, who is assisted by boards to supervise taxes and elections.

Town or township governments[edit]

Town or township governments are organized local governments authorized in the state constitutions and statutes of 20 Northeastern and Midwestern states,[3] established as minor civil divisions to provide general government for a geographic subdivision of a county where there is no municipality. In New York, Wisconsin and New England, these county subdivisions are called towns.

In many other states, the term town does not have any specific meaning; it is simply an informal term applied to populated places (both incorporated and unincorporated municipalities). Moreover, in some states, the term town is equivalent to how civil townships are used in other states.

Like counties, the specific responsibilities to townships vary based on each state. Many states grant townships some governmental powers, making them civil townships, either independently or as a part of the county government. In others, survey townships are non-governmental. Towns in the six New England states and townships in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are included in this category by the Census Bureau, despite the fact that they are legally municipal corporations, since their structure has no necessary relation to concentration of population,[3] which is typical of municipalities elsewhere in the United States. In particular, towns in New England have considerably more power than most townships elsewhere and often function as legally equivalent to cities, typically exercising the full range of powers that are divided between counties, townships, and cities in other states.[6]

Township functions are generally overseen by a governing board, whose name also varies from state to state.

Municipal governments[edit]

Municipal governments are organized local governments authorized in state constitutions and statutes, established to provide general government for a defined area, generally corresponding to a population center rather than one of a set of areas into which a county is divided. The category includes those governments designated as cities, boroughs (except in Alaska), towns (except in Minnesota and Wisconsin), and villages.[7] This concept corresponds roughly to the "incorporated places" that are recognized in by the U.S. Census Bureau, although the Census Bureau excludes New England towns from their statistics for this category, and the count of municipal governments excludes places that are governmentally inactive.

About 28 percent of Americans live in cities of 100,000 or more population.[when?] Types of city governments vary widely across the nation. However, almost all have a central council, elected by the voters, and an executive officer, assisted by various department heads, to manage the city's affairs. Cities in the West and South usually have nonpartisan local politics.

There are three general types of municipal government: the mayor-council, the commission, and the council-manager. These are the pure forms; many cities have developed a combination of two or three of them.

Mayor-council[edit]

This is the oldest form of city government in the United States and, until the beginning of the 20th century, was used by nearly all American cities. Its structure is like that of the state and national governments, with an elected mayor as chief of the executive branch and an elected council that represents the various neighborhoods forming the legislative branch. The mayor appoints heads of city departments and other officials (sometimes with the approval of the council), has the power of veto over ordinances (the laws of the city), and often is responsible for preparing the city's budget. The council passes city ordinances, sets the tax rate on property, and apportions money among the various city departments. As cities have grown, council seats have usually come to represent more than a single neighborhood.

Commission[edit]

This combines both the legislative and executive functions in one group of officials, usually three or more in number, elected city-wide. Each commissioner supervises the work of one or more city departments. Commissioners also set policies and rules by which the city is operated. One is named chairperson of the body and is often called the mayor, although their power is equivalent to that of the other commissioners.[8]

Council-manager[edit]

The city manager is a response to the increasing complexity of urban problems that need management ability not often possessed by elected public officials. The answer has been to entrust most of the executive powers, including law enforcement and provision of services, to a highly trained and experienced professional city manager.

The council-manager plan has been adopted by a large number of cities. Under this plan, a small, elected council makes the city ordinances and sets policy, but hires a paid administrator, also called a city manager, to carry out its decisions. The manager draws up the city budget and supervises most of the departments. Usually, there is no set term; the manager serves as long as the council is satisfied with their work.

Unincorporated areas[edit]

Some states contain unincorporated areas, which are areas of land not governed by any local authorities below that at the county level. Residents of unincorporated areas only need to pay taxes to the county, state and federal governments as opposed to the municipal government as well. A notable example of this is Paradise, Nevada, an unincorporated area where many of the casinos commonly associated with Las Vegas are situated.[9]

Special-purpose local governments[edit]

In addition to general-purpose government entities legislating at the state, county, and city level, special-purpose areas may exist as well, provide one or more specific services that are not being supplied by other existing governments.[10] School districts are organized local entities providing public elementary and secondary education which, under state law, have sufficient administrative and fiscal autonomy to qualify as separate governments.

Special districts are authorized by state law to provide designated functions as established in the district's charter or other founding document, and with sufficient administrative and fiscal autonomy to qualify as separate governments;[11] known by a variety of titles, including districts, authorities, boards, commissions, etc., as specified in the enabling state legislation.

Unincorporated territories[edit]

The United States possesses a number of unincorporated territories, including 16 island territories across the globe.[12] These are areas of land which are not under the jurisdiction of any state, and do not have a government established by Congress through an organic act. Citizens of these territories can vote for members of their own local governments, and some can also elect representatives to serve in Congress—though they only have observer status.[12] The unincorporated territories of the U.S. include the permanently inhabited territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; as well as minor outlying islands such as Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island, Palmyra Atoll, Wake Island, and others. American Samoa is the only territory with a native resident population and is governed by a local authority. Despite the fact that an organic act was not passed in Congress, American Samoa established its own constitution in 1967, and has self governed ever since.[13] Seeking statehood or independence is often debated in US territories, such as in Puerto Rico, but even if referendums on these issues are held, congressional approval is needed for changes in status to take place.[14]

The citizenship status of residents in US unincorporated territories has caused concern for their ability to influence and participate in the politics of the United States. In recent decades, the Supreme Court has established voting as a fundamental right of US citizens, even though residents of territories do not hold full voting rights.[15] Despite this, residents must still abide by federal laws that they cannot equitably influence, as well as register for the national Selective Service System, which has led some scholars to argue that residents of territories are essentially second-class citizens.[15] The legal justifications for these discrepancies stem from the Insular Cases, which were a series of 1901 Supreme Court cases that some consider to be reflective of imperialism and racist views held in the United States.[12] Unequal access to political participation in US territories has also been criticized for affecting US citizens who move to territories, as such an action requires forfeiting the full voting rights that they would have held in the 50 states.[15]

Elections[edit]

Voters cast ballots for the 2020 elections at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa
Women's suffragists parade in New York City in 1917, carrying placards with the signatures of more than a million women.[16]

As in the United Kingdom and in other similar parliamentary systems, in the U.S. Americans eligible to vote, vote for an individual candidate (there are sometimes exceptions in local government elections)[note 1] and not a party list. The U.S. government being a federal government, officials are elected at the federal (national), state and local levels. All members of Congress, and the offices at the state and local levels are directly elected, but the president is elected indirectly, by an Electoral College whose electors represent their state and are elected by popular vote. (Before the Seventeenth Amendment was passed, Senators were also elected indirectly, by state legislatures.) These presidential electors were originally expected to exercise their own judgement. In modern practice, though, the electors are chosen by their party and pledged to vote for that party's presidential candidate, (however in rare occurrences they may violate their pledge, becoming what is known as a "faithless elector").

Both federal and state laws regulate elections. The United States Constitution defines (to a basic extent) how federal elections are held, in Article One and Article Two and various amendments. State law regulates most aspects of electoral law, including primaries, the eligibility of voters (beyond the basic constitutional definition), the running of each state's electoral college, and the running of state and local elections.

Suffrage[edit]

Who has the right to vote in the United States is regulated by the Constitution and federal and state laws. Suffrage is nearly universal for citizens 18 years of age and older. Voting rights are sometimes restricted as a result of felony conviction, depending on the state.[18]

The District, and other U.S. holdings like Puerto Rico and Guam, do not have the right to choose any political figure outside their respective areas and can only elect a non-voting delegate to serve in the House of Representatives. All states and the District of Columbia contribute to the electoral vote for president.

Campaign finance[edit]

Successful participation, especially in federal elections, often requires large amounts of money, especially for television advertising.[19] This money can be very difficult to raise by appeals to a mass base,[20] although appeals for small donations over the Internet have been successful.[21] Both parties generally depend on wealthy donors and organizations - traditionally organized labor helping the Democrats and business donations the Republicans.[citation needed]. Since 1984, however, the Democrats' business donations have surpassed those from labor organizations[citation needed]. This dependency on donors and the political influence it can give them is controversial, and has led to laws limiting spending on political campaigns being enacted (see campaign finance reform). Opponents of campaign finance laws allege they interfer with the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. Even when laws are upheld, the complication of compliance with the First Amendment requires careful and cautious drafting of legislation, leading to laws that are still fairly limited in scope, especially in comparison to those of other developed democracies such as the United Kingdom, France or Canada.

Political parties, pressure groups[edit]

Political parties[edit]

Background

The United States Constitution never formally addressed the issue of political parties, primarily because the Founding Fathers opposed them; nonetheless, parties — specifically two competing parties or a "two-party system" — has been a fundamental part of American politics since shortly after George Washington's presidency.

In partisan elections, candidates are nominated by a political party or seek public office as an independent. Each state has significant discretion in deciding how candidates are nominated, and thus eligible to appear on the election ballot. Typically, major party candidates are formally chosen in a party primary or convention, whereas candidates from minor parties and Independent candidates are required to complete a petitioning process.

The current (informal) two-party system in the United States is made up of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. These two parties have won every U.S. presidential election since 1852 and have controlled the U.S.Congress since at least 1856. From time to time, a third party has achieved some minor representation at the national and state levels.

Since the Great Depression and the New Deal, and increasingly since the 1960s, Democratic Party has generally positioned itself as center-left in American politics, while the Republican Party has generally positioned itself as center-right, although there are other factions within each.

Organization of American political parties[edit]

Unlike in many other countries, the major political parties in America have no strong central organization that determines party positions and policies, rewards loyal members and officials or expels rebels. A party committee or convention may endorse a candidate for office, but the determination of who will be the party's candidate in the general election is usually done in primaries open to voters who register as Democrats or Republicans. Furthermore, elected officials who fail to "toe the party line" because of constituent opposition to it, and "cross the aisle" to vote with the opposition, have (relatively) little to fear from their party.

Parties have state or federal committees that act as hubs for fundraising and campaigning, (See, Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee) and separate campaign committees which work to elect candidates at a specific level, but do not direct candidates or their campaigns. In presidential elections, the party's candidate serves as the de facto party leader, whose popularity helps or hinders candidates further down the ballot. Midterm election are usually regarded as a referendum on the sitting president's performance.[22][23]

Some (Lee Drutman, Daniel J. Hopkins writing before 2018) argue that in the 21st century, along with becoming overly partisan, America politics has become overly focused on national issues and "nationalized", (and for Republicans, loyal to Donald Trump), so that even local offices, formerly dealing with local issues now often mention the presidential election.[24][25]

The two-party system in the U.S.[edit]

"Third" political parties have appeared from time to time in American history but seldom lasted more than a decade. They have sometimes been the vehicle of an individual (Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose" party, Ross Perot's Reform Party); had considerable strength in particular regions (Socialist Party, the Farmer-Labor Party, Wisconsin Progressive Party, Conservative Party of New York State,[note 2] and the Populist Party); or continued to run candidates for office to publicize some issue despite seldom winning even local elections (Libertarian Party, Natural Law Party, Peace and Freedom Party).

Factors reinforcing the two party system include:

  • The traditional American electoral format of single-member districts where the candidate with the most votes wins (known as the "first-past-the-post" system), which according to Duverger's law favors the two-party system. This is in contrast to multi-seat electoral districts[note 3] and proportional representation found in some other democracies.
  • the 19th century innovation of printing "party tickets" to pass out to prospective voters to cast in ballot boxes (originally, voters went to the polls and publicly stated which candidate they supported), "consolidated the power of the major parties".[26]
  • Printed party "tickets" (ballots) were eventually replaced by uniform ballots provided by the state, when states began to adopt the Australian Secret Ballot Method. This gave state legislatures—dominated by Democrats and Republicans—the opportunity to handicap new rising parties with ballot access laws requiring a large number of petition signatures from citizens and giving the petitioners a short length of time to gather the signatures.

Political pressure groups[edit]

Street sign for K Street, with tall office buildings in background
K Street in Washington, D.C., has become a metonym for the American lobbying industry.

Special interest groups advocate the cause of their specific constituency. Business organizations, for example, will favor low corporate taxes and restrictions on the right to strike, whereas labor unions will support minimum wage legislation and protection for collective bargaining. Other private interest groups, such as churches and ethnic groups, are more concerned about broader issues of policy that can affect their organizations or their beliefs.

One type of private interest group that has grown in number and influence in recent years is the political action committee or PAC. These are independent groups, organized around a single issue or set of issues, which contribute money to political campaigns for United States Congress or the presidency. PACs are limited in the amounts they can contribute directly to candidates in federal elections. There are no restrictions, however, on the amounts PACs can spend independently to advocate a point of view or to urge the election of candidates to office. As of 2008, there were 4,292 PACs operating in the US.[27]

The number of interest groups has mushroomed, with more and more of them operating offices in Washington, D.C., and representing themselves directly to Congress and federal agencies. Many organizations that keep an eye on Washington seek financial and moral support from ordinary citizens. Since many of them focus on a narrow set of concerns or even on a single issue, and often a single issue of enormous emotional weight, they compete with the parties for citizens' dollars, time, and passion.[28]

The amount of money spent by these special interests continues to grow, as campaigns become increasingly expensive. Many Americans have the feeling that these wealthy interests, whether corporations, unions or PACs, are so powerful that ordinary citizens can do little to counteract their influences.

A survey of members of the American Economic Association (i.e. the association of professional economists) found the vast majority—regardless of political affiliation—felt the prevalence and influence of special interest groups in the political process led to benefit for the special interest groups and politicians at the expense of society as a whole.[29]

Religious groups[edit]

Despite the constitution's First Amendment Establishment Clause ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."), religious groups (primarily Christian groups for historical reasons) have often become political pressure groups and parts of political coalitions.[30] In recent decades, conservative evangelical Protestants have been particularly active within the broader Republican Party.[30] (However, some scholars have argued that this coalition may be starting to split, as of 2008.)[30] This influence has often translated into the passing of laws related to morality and personal conduct.[31] State alcohol and gambling laws, for example, have been found to be more restrictive in states with a higher percentage of conservative Protestant Christians.[31]

History, development, evolution[edit]

American political culture[edit]

Colonial origins[edit]

The American political culture is rooted in the colonial experience and the American Revolution. The colonies were unique within the European world for their (relatively) widespread suffrage provided to white male property owners, and the relative power and activity of the elected bodies they could vote for.[32] These dealt with land grants, commercial subsidies, taxation, the oversight of roads, poor relief, taverns, and schools. courts, (private lawsuits were very common) also provided Americans with experience in public affairs and law,[33] and gave interest groups such as merchants, landlords, petty farmers, artisans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Quakers, Germans, Scotch Irish, Yankees, Yorkers, etc. control over matters left to the royal court, aristocratic families and the established church in Great Britain. Finally, Americans were interested in the political values of Republicanism, which celebrated equal rights, civic virtue, and abhorred corruption, luxury, and aristocracy.[34]

Concepts of the Founding Fathers[edit]

The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of American freedom and openness to immigration

Two pivotal political ideas in the establishment of the United States were Republicanism and classical liberalism. Central documents of American thought include: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution (1787), the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers (1787–1790s), the Bill of Rights (1791), and Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" (1863).

Among the core tenets were:

Post–World War II[edit]

At the time of the United States' founding, the economy was predominantly one of agriculture and small private businesses, and state governments left welfare issues to private or local initiative. As in the UK and other industrialized countries, laissez-faire ideology was largely discredited during the Great Depression. Between the 1930s and 1970s, fiscal policy was characterized by the Keynesian consensus.[37][38] After the "Reagan revolution" in the early 1980s, however, laissez-faire ideology once more became a powerful force in American politics.[39] While the American welfare state expanded more than threefold after WWII, it held at 20% of GDP from the late 1970s to late 1980s.[40][41] In the 21st century, modern American liberalism, and modern American conservatism are engaged in a continuous political battle, characterized by what The Economist describes as "greater divisiveness [and] close, but bitterly fought elections."[42] Since 2016, the United States has been recognized as a flawed democracy in the Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit, partially due to increased political polarization.[43][44]

In foreign affairs, the United States generally pursued a noninterventionist policy of "avoiding foreign entanglements" before World War II. After the war, when America became a superpower, for many decades the country embraced internationalism, seeking allies to contain Communism and foster economic cooperation.

Development and evolution of political parties[edit]

Background[edit]

The United States Constitution never formally addressed the issue of political parties, primarily because the Founding FathersAlexander Hamilton, James Madison,[45] George Washington—opposed them as domestic political factions leading to domestic conflict[46] and stagnation.[47]

Nevertheless, the beginnings of the American two-party system emerged from Washington's immediate circle of advisers, including Hamilton and Madison. By the 1790s, different views of the new country's proper course had already developed, with those holding the same views banding together. The followers of Alexander Hamilton (the "Federalist") favored a strong central government that would support the interests of commerce and industry. The followers of Thomas Jefferson, ("Democratic-Republicans") preferred a decentralized agrarian republic.

By 1828, the Federalists had disappeared as an organization, replaced first by the National Republican Party and then by the Whigs, while the Democratic Republicans evolved into the Democrats led by Andrew Jackson, and known for celebrating "the common (white) man" and the expansion of suffrage to (most) of them.

In the 1850s, it was the Whigs' turn to disappear, undone by the issue of whether slavery should be allowed to expand into the country's new territories in the West. The Whigs were eventually replaced by the Republican Party which opposed slavery expansion and whose first successful candidate for the presidency was Abraham Lincoln.

Democratic and Republican parties[edit]

In the 150+ years since the Democratic and Republican parties have been America's two major parties, though their policies, base of support and relative strength have evolved considerably.

Some eras in American politics include:

  • Reconstruction era and Gilded Age. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, Democrats celebrated "state's rights", a principle dear to the "Solid South" (i.e. solidly Democratic) where "repressive legislation and physical intimidation" of Jim Crow prevented the "newly enfranchised African Americans from voting". Nationwide it supported cheap-money, and opposed banking and tariffs.[48][49] Another element in its coalition were mostly urban Catholics. After the defeat of the Confederacy, the Republican Party, associated with the successful military defense of the Union and often known as "the Grand Old Party", became the dominant party in America.[50]
  • The New Deal. These programs of Democrat president Franklin D. Roosevelt designed to deal with the disruption and suffering of the Great Depression — raising of the minimum wage, the establishment of the Social Security and other federal services — created a dramatic political shift in America. Roosevelt "forged a broad coalition—including small farmers, Northern city dwellers, organized labor, European immigrants, liberals, intellectuals, and reformers". The Democratic party became the dominant party—retaining the presidency until 1952 and controlling both houses of Congress for most of the period from the 1930s to the mid-1990s.[48]
One year after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, American Facebook users on the political right and political left shared almost no common interests.
  • Political polarization in the United States. In the last few decades (starting around 1990), the U.S. has experienced a greater surge in ideological polarization and affective polarization than comparable democracies,[51][52] with a shift away from focus on political success, towards the abhorrence and domination ("owning") of supporters of the opposing party.[53] This move away from the center and change in ideology has not been symmetrical, with Republicans moving farther to the right than Democrats have moved to the left (based on rankings of congressional roll-call votes).[54] [note 4] Republican strategist Newt Gingrich introduced a "Take No Prisoners"[56] or "no-holds-barred" style in congress,[57] that abandoned the norm whereby Democrats were opponents in elections but primarily colleagues to negotiate with in making good legislation. Gingrich taught that they were the enemy to be defeated, attacked as "traitors ... liars ... cheaters".[58] Karl Rove emphasized that elections are won by energizing the party "base" (core supporters), not reaching out to the persuadable or swing voter in the middle; attacking opponents strong points (for example running ads implying decorated veterans—Max Cleland and John Kerry—were actually treasonous).[58] Conspiracy theories also began to become mainstream among Republicans during this time (for example accusing then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of ordering the military to not protect Americans at the U.S. compound in Benghazi).[58]
  • Presidency of Donald Trump. After decades of dominance, "Reagan Revolution" rhetoric and policy, began to be replaced by new themes Reaganism had not emphasized, (cultural/attitudinal conservatism such as opposition to gay marriage, transgender rights). Themes it had not objected to (immigration from non-European countries) or had unequivocally supported (economic globalization and especially big business) were abandoned or attacked. Populism replaced gentility,[59] and prudent Edmund Burke conservatism.[60] In the party base, not only had conservative (white) blue collar workers migrated to the Republican Party, but a business class that had been part of the Republican Party since the post-Civil War Gilded Age, began to leave.[note 5] Added to the louder and growing number of conspiracy theories[note 6] were "alternative facts". The "bedrock principle of democracy, that losing candidates and their supporters accept the results" was no longer supported by most Republicans.[64] Not only did white southerners leave the Democratic party but eventually a large majority of rural and working class whites nationwide became the base of the Republican Party.[65] Whereas for decades the college-educated voters skewed heavily towards the Republican party, eventually high educational attainment was a marker of Democratic support, (leading Donald Trump to proclaim to supporters, "I love the poorly educated!"). Post-2012 has also been characterized by even political division and a lack of a dominant political party.[66]

Development of voting[edit]

In pre-colonial and post-revolutionary American times, voters went to the polls and publicly stated which candidate they supported, rather than voting secretly, which was considered "cowardly" and "underhanded".[26] Originally, state laws required voters to be property owners, but "by the time Andrew Jackson was elected President, in 1828, nearly all white men could vote".[26]

Later in the 19th century, voting was done by written paper ballot. A broadened franchise where many voters were illiterate or misspelling disqualified a vote, led to the use of printed ballots. Each political party would create its own ballot—preprinted "party tickets"—give them to supporters, and who would publicly put the party's ballot into the voting box, or hand them to election judges through a window.[26] The tickets indicated a vote for all of that party's slate of candidates, preventing "ticket splitting".[26] (As of 1859 "nowhere in the United States ... did election officials provide ballots", i.e. they all came from political parties.) In cities voters often had to make their way through a throng of partisans who would try to prevent supporters of the opposing party from voting, a practice generally allowed unless it "clearly" appeared "that there was such a display of force as ought to have intimidated men of ordinary firmness."[26] The practice was dangerous enough that in "the middle decades of the nineteenth century," several dozen (89) were killed in Election Day riots.[26]

It was not until the late nineteenth century that states began to adopt the Australian Secret Ballot Method (despite fears it "would make any nation a nation of scoundrels"),[26] and it eventually became the national standard. The secret ballot method ensured that the privacy of voters would be protected (hence government jobs could no longer be awarded to loyal voters), and each state would be responsible for creating one official ballot.

Suffrage[edit]

U.S. presidential election popular vote totals as a percentage of the total U.S. population grew from 1-2% in the first American elections to over 40% by the 21st century. Note the surge in 1828 (extension of suffrage to non-property-owning white men), the drop from 1890 to 1910 (when Southern states disenfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites), and another surge in 1920 (extension of suffrage to women).

Some key events of suffrage expansion are:

  • 1792–1856: Abolition of property qualifications for white men were abolished.[67]
  • 1868: Citizenship was guaranteed to all persons born or naturalized in the United States by the Fourteenth Amendment, although Jim Crow laws prevented most African Americans from voting.
  • 1920: Women are guaranteed the right to vote in all US States by the Nineteenth Amendment.
  • 1964-66: Civil Rights laws and Supreme Court rulings eliminate tax payment and wealth requirements and protect voter registration and voting for racial minorities.
  • 1971: Adults aged 18 through 20 are granted the right to vote by the Twenty-sixth Amendment.

Concerns, problems, criticism in policy and representation[edit]

In an August 31, 2022, poll by Quinnipiac University, 69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans replied yes to the question "Do you think the nation's democracy is in danger of collapse".[68] A 2020 study, "Global Satisfaction with Democracy" by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, found that

for the first time on record, polls show a majority of Americans dissatisfied with their system of government—a system of which they were once famously proud. Such levels of democratic dissatisfaction would not be unusual elsewhere. But for the United States, it marks an "end of exceptionalism"—a profound shift in America's view of itself, and therefore, of its place in the world.[69]

Concerns about the American political system include how well it represents and serves the interests of Americans. They include:

  • underrepresentation of certain groups (women, Black people, Latin Americans, Native Americans, gay people, and those under 60 years old);
  • complete failure to represent other groups (citizens living in territories, in D.C. (for Congress), and felons in some states);
  • whether policy and law-making is dominated by a small economic elite molding it to their interests;[70][71]
  • whether a small cultural elite has undermined traditional values;[65]

More recently, concerns have included:

  • that a disconnect between what the majority of people want and what the government does (in supreme court rulings, legislation, etc.) has gotten worse in recent years because of some features and institutions of the American system (gerrymandering, the electoral college, "first-past-the-post" voting, etc.);
  • "a growing movement inside one of the country's two major parties—the Republican Party—to refuse to accept defeat in an election";
  • a belief (without evidence) that voter fraud is "being committed by minority voters on a massive scale" preventing Republicans from being elected.[72]

Concerns about political representation of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation[edit]

Observations of historical trends and current governmental demographics have raised concerns about the equity of political representation in the United States. In particular, scholars have noted that levels of descriptive representation—which refers to when political representatives share demographic backgrounds or characteristics with their constituents—do not match the racial and gender makeup of the US.[73] Descriptive representation is noted to be beneficial because of its symbolic representative benefits as a source of emotional identification with one's representatives.[74] Furthermore, descriptive representation can lead to more substantive and functional representation, as well as greater institutional power, which can result in minority constituents having both representatives with matching policy views and power in the political system.[73][75] Serving as a congressional committee chair is considered to be a good example of this relationship, as chairs control which issues are addressed by committees, especially through hearings that bring substantial attention to certain issues.[73] Though minorities like African Americans and Latinos have rarely served as committee chairs, studies have shown that their presence has directly led to significantly higher likelihoods of minority issues being addressed.[73] Given that racial and ethnic minorities of all backgrounds have historically been marginalized from participating in the US political system, their political representation and access to policymaking has been limited.[73] Similarly, women lack proportional representation in the United States, bringing into question the extent to which women's issues are adequately addressed.[76] Other minority groups, such as the LGBTQ community, have also been disadvantaged by an absence of equitable representation—especially since scholars have noted their gradual shift from originally being perceived as more of a moral political issue to being considered an actual constituency.[77]

Political representation is also an essential part of making sure that citizens have faith that representatives, political institutions, and democracy take their interests into account.[74] For women and minorities, this issue can occur even in the levels of government that are meant to be closest to constituents, such as among members of Congress in the House of Representatives. Scholars have noted that in positions such as these, even close proximity to constituents does not necessarily translate to an understanding of their needs or experiences and that constituents can still feel unrepresented.[74] In a democracy, a lack of faith in one's representatives can cause them to search for less-democratic alternative forms of representation, like unelected individuals or interest groups.[74] For racial and ethnic minorities, the risk of seeking alternative representation is especially acute, as lived experiences often lead to different political perspectives that can be difficult for white representatives to fully understand or adequately address.[73] Moreover, studies have begun to increasingly show that people of all races and genders tend to prefer having members of Congress who share their race or gender, which can also lead to more engagement between constituents and their representatives, as well as higher likelihoods of contacting or having faith in their congressperson.[74] In addition to making it more likely that constituents will trust their representatives, having descriptive representation can help sustain an individual's positive perceptions of government. When considering women in particular, it has been suggested that broader economic and social equality could result from first working toward ensuring more equitable political representation for women, which would also help promote increased faith between women and their representatives.[78]

Race and ethnicity[edit]

There are 57 African American members of the US House (blue), 47 Hispanics and Latinos (red), 5 Native Americans (yellow), 18 Asian Americans (green), and 314 Whites (gray).
There are 3 African American members of the US Senate (blue), 7 Hispanics or Latinos (red), 0 Native Americans, 2 Asian Americans (green), and 88 Whites (gray).
African Americans[edit]

Although African Americans have begun to continually win more elected positions and increase their overall political representation, they still lack proportional representation across a variety of different levels of government.[79] Some estimates indicate that most gains for African Americans—and other minorities in general—have not occurred at higher levels of government, but rather at sub-levels in federal and state governments.[79] Additionally, congressional data from 2017 revealed that 35.7% of African Americans nationwide had a congressperson of the same race, while the majority of black Americans were represented by members of Congress of a different race.[74] Scholars have partially explained this discrepancy by focusing on the obstacles that black candidates face. Factors like election type, campaign costs, district demographics, and historical barriers, such as voter suppression, can all hinder the likelihood of a black candidate winning an election or even choosing to enter into an election process.[79] Demographics, in particular, are noted to have a large influence on black candidate success, as research has shown that the ratio of white-to-black voters can have a significant impact on a black candidate's chance of winning an election and that large black populations tend to increase the resources available to African American candidates.[79] Despite the variety of obstacles that have contributed to the lack of proportional representation for African Americans, other factors have been found to increase the likelihood of a black candidate winning an election. Based on data from a study in Louisiana, prior black incumbency, as well as running for an office that other black candidates had pursued in the past, increased the likelihood of African Americans entering into races and winning elections.[79]

Hispanic and Latino Americans[edit]

As the most populous minority demographic identified in the 2010 US Census, Hispanic and Latino Americans have become an increasingly important constituency that is spread throughout the United States.[80] Despite also constituting 15% of the population in at least a quarter of House districts, Latino representation in Congress has not correspondingly increased.[80] Furthermore, in 2017, Latino members of Congress only represented about one-quarter of the total Latino population in the US.[74] While there are many potential explanations for this disparity, including issues related to voter suppression, surveys of Latino voters have identified trends unique to their demographic—though survey data has still indicated that descriptive representation is important to Hispanic and Latino voters.[80] While descriptive representation may be considered important, an analysis of a 2004 national survey of Latinos revealed that political participation and substantive representation were strongly associated with each other, possibly indicating that voters mobilize more on behalf of candidates whose policy views reflect their own, rather than for those who share their ethnic background.[75] Moreover, a breakdown of the rationale for emphasizing descriptive representation reveals additional factors behind supporting Latino candidates, such as the view that they may have a greater respect and appreciation for Spanish or a belief that Latinos are "linked" together, indicating the significance of shared cultural experiences and values.[80] Although the reasons behind choosing to vote for Latino candidates are not monolithic, the election of Latinos to Congress has been identified as resulting in benefits for minorities overall. While it has been argued that unique district-related issues can take equal or greater precedence than Latino interests for Hispanic and Latino members of Congress, studies have also shown that Latinos are more likely to support African American members of Congress—and vice versa—beyond just what is expected from shared party membership.[75]

Native Americans[edit]

Similar to other minority groups, Native Americans often lack representation due to electoral policies. Gerrymandering, in particular, is noted as a method of concentrating Native voters in a limited number of districts to reduce their ability to influence multiple elections.[81] Despite structural efforts to limit their political representation, some states with large Native American populations have higher levels of representation. South Dakota has a Native population of about 9% with multiple federally recognized tribal nations, and it has been used as a case study of representation.[81] A 2017 study that conducted interviews of former state elected officials in South Dakota revealed that even though many felt that they were only able to implement a limited number of significant changes for tribal communities, they still considered it to be "absolutely essential" that Native Americans had at least some descriptive representation to prevent complete exclusion from the political process.[81] Moreover, formerly elected state and local government officials asserted that ensuring that the issues and concerns of tribal nations were addressed and understood depended on politicians with Native backgrounds.[81] Historically-backed suspicion and skepticism of the predominantly white US government was also considered to be an important reason for having representatives that reflect the histories and views of Native Americans.[81]

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders[edit]

Relative to other, larger minority demographics in the United States, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) face different challenges related to political representation. Few congressional districts have a population that includes over 50% Asian Americans, which can elevate the likelihood of being represented by someone of a different race or ethnicity.[74] As with other minorities, this can result in people feeling unrepresented by their member of Congress.[74]

Gender and political representation[edit]

There are 122 women members of the US House (blue) and 319 men (gray).
There are 24 women members of the US Senate (blue) and 76 men (gray).

Women have made continual socioeconomic progress in many key areas of society, such as in employment and education, and in comparison to men, women have voted at higher rates for over forty years—making their lack of more proportional representation in the political system surprising.[76][78] Some scholars have partially attributed this discrepancy to the electoral system in the United States, as it does not provide a mechanism for the types of gender quotas seen in other countries.[78] Additionally, even though gerrymandering and concentrated political representation can essentially ensure at least some representation for minority racial and ethnic groups, women—who are relatively evenly spread throughout the United States—do not receive similar benefits from this practice.[74] Among individuals, however, identifying the source of unequal gender representation can be predicted along party and ideological lines. A survey of attitudes toward women candidates revealed that Democrats are more likely to attribute systemic issues to gender inequalities in political representation, while Republicans are less likely to hold this perspective.[76] While identifying an exact source of inequality may ultimately prove unlikely, some recent studies have suggested that the political ambitions of women may be influenced by the wide variety of proposed factors attributed to the underrepresentation of women.[76] In contrast to attributing specific reasons to unequal representation, political party has also been identified as a way of predicting if a woman running for office is more likely to receive support, as women candidates are more likely to receive votes from members of their party and Independents.[76]

Social inequality and sexism[edit]

Social inequality and sexism have been noted by scholars as influencing the electoral process for women. In a survey of attitudes toward women candidates, women respondents were far more likely to view the process of running for office as "hostile" to women than men, especially when considering public hesitancy to support women candidates, media coverage, and public discrimination.[76] Political fundraising for candidates is also an area of inequality, as men donate at a higher rate than women—which is compounded by gender and racial inequalities related to income and employment.[78] However, recent increases in women-focused fundraising groups have started to alter this imbalance.[78] Given that disproportionate levels of household labor often become the responsibility of women, discrimination within households has also been identified as a major influence on the capability of women to run for office.[78] For women in the LGBTQ community, some scholars have raised concern about the unequal attention paid to the needs of lesbians compared to transgender, bisexual, and queer women, with lesbian civil rights described as receiving more of a focus from politicians.[77]

Social pressures and influences[edit]

Social pressures are another influence on women who run for office, often coinciding with sexism and discrimination. Some scholars have argued that views of discrimination have prompted a decrease in the supply of women willing to run for office, though this has been partially countered by those who argue that women are actually just more "strategic" when trying to identify an election with favorable conditions.[78] Other factors, like the overrepresentation of men, have been described as influencing perceptions of men as somehow inherently more effective as politicians or leaders, which some scholars argue could pressure women to stay out of elections.[78] However, others contend that the overrepresentation of men can actually result in "political momentum" for women, such as during the Year of the Woman.[78] Within some racial and ethnic groups, social influences can also shape political engagement. Among Latinos, Latinas are more likely to partake in non-electoral activities, like community organizing, when compared to men.[80] Despite differences in political activity and social pressures, elected women from both political parties have voiced their support for electing more women to Congress to increase the acceptance of their voices and experiences.[78] Furthermore, studies have found that increasing the descriptive representation of women can provide positive social influences for democracy as a whole, such as improved perceptions of an individual's political efficacy and government's responsiveness to the needs of people.[74] When women can vote for a woman candidate of the same party, studies have also found that these influences can be magnified.[74]

LGBT political representation[edit]

The White House illuminated in the colors of the rainbow flag after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationally

Although some scholars have disputed the benefits of descriptive representation, only a small number have argued that this form of representation actually has negative impacts on the group it represents.[82] Studies of bills relating to LGBT rights in state legislatures have provided a more nuanced analysis. Pro-LGBT bills tend to be introduced in higher numbers when more LGBT representatives are elected to state legislatures, which may also indicate an increased likelihood of substantive representation.[82] Increases in openly LGBT state lawmakers have also been hypothesized to inadvertently result in more anti-LGBT legislation, potentially as the result of backlash to their presence.[82] Despite the risk of negative consequences, at least one study has concluded that the LGBT community receives net-benefits from increased openly LGBT representation.[82] On the federal level, the presence of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus has been identified as improving the ability of Congress to address the intersectional issues faced by the LGBT community, as well as provide a source of pressure other than constituency on members of Congress to address LGBT issues.[77] Additionally, non-LGBT members of the caucus have been criticized for not sponsoring enough legislation, emphasizing the value of openly LGBT members of Congress.[77] While descriptive representation has provided benefits overall, scholars have noted that some groups in the community, such as transgender and bisexual people, tend to receive less focus than gays and lesbians.[77]

21st century concerns[edit]

While American political institutions have had more political representation of older heterosexual well-to-do white men since their founding, complaints about an increase in political polarization and decline in political norms are more recent. At least three "well-regarded" global democracy indexes—Freedom House,[83] Varieties of Democracy,[84] and the Economist Intelligence Unit[85]— "show an erosion of American democracy since 2016".[86]

Disconnect between public opinion and government policy[edit]

A disconnect between "the power to set government policy" and political opinions of the general public has been noted by commentators and scholars (such as David Leonhardt).[87] The United States "far and away the most countermajoritarian democracy in the world," according to Steven Levitsky.[88]

Before the 2000 election, only three candidates for president won "while losing the popular vote (John Quincy Adams, Rutherford Hayes and Benjamin Harrison), and each served only a single term", while as of 2022 "two of the past four presidents have taken office despite losing the popular vote"[87] - George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.[89]

Leonhardt points out that in one branch of the federal government—the Supreme Court—conservative legal decisions "both sweeping and, according to polls, unpopular" were delivered in 2022, what is likely the beginning of a reshaping of "American politics for years, if not decades" to come by the court's "Republican appointees". This is despite the fact that the president appoints the nominees, and that presidential candidates of the Democratic Party have won the popular vote in seven out of eight last elections (from 1992-2020).[87]

In the 2020 U.S. Senate, "50 Democratic senators effectively represent 186 million Americans, while the 50 Republican senators effectively represent 145 million".[87]

Explanations include:

  • geographical sorting by ideology. "Parts of the country granted outsize power by the Constitution" (i.e. less populated states), formerly voted more or less similarly to the large states and urban areas that were granted less power. Thus "the small-state bonus" giving disproportionate power in "the Senate and Electoral College had only a limited effect on national results". This is no longer the case. Rural areas are more uniformly conservative and urban areas liberal.[87] More important is "the winner-take-all nature of the Electoral College" (all states except Maine and Nebraska), which gives greater bias to Republicans.[87]
  • faster population growth of large (population) states than small states.[87] The state with the largest population in 1790 was Virginia with approximately 13 times as many residents as the smallest (Delaware). Today, "California, which consistently votes for liberal candidates statewide, "has 68 times as many residents as Wyoming; 53 times as many as Alaska; and at least 20 times as many as another 11 states". When a candidate wins a statewide election in California (or New York) by a landslide, these large numbers of popular votes mean nothing in the tally of Electoral College votes or Senate seats.[87]
  • while the House of Representatives would seem to have "a more equitable system for allocating political power"—dividing the country "into 435 districts, each with a broadly similar number of people" (760,000 as of 2022)—Leonhardt argues two features distort his equity:
    • gerrymandering, i.e. the drawing of district boundaries by State legislatures for partisan advantage, something Republicans have been "more forceful" about in recent years.[87]
    • the phenomenon of "wasted votes", whereby the increasing concentration of Democratic voters in large metro areas means Democrats often win elections in these districts by "landslides", leading to the overall nationwide proportion of votes for Democrats significantly less than the proportion of seats for Democrats in the House.[87]

Oligarchy[edit]

Some views suggest that the political structure of the United States is in many respects an oligarchy, where a small economic elite overwhelmingly dominate policy and law.[70] Some academic researchers suggest a drift toward oligarchy has been occurring by way of the influence of corporations, wealthy, and other special interest groups, leaving individual citizens with less impact than economic elites and organized interest groups in the political process.[71][90][91][92]

A study by political scientists Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern University) released in April 2014, concluded that the U.S. government doesn't represent the interests of the majority of its citizens but instead is "ruled by those of the rich and powerful". The researchers after analyzing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies between 1981 and 2002, stated that government policies tend to favour special interests and lobbying organizations, and that whenever a majority of citizens disagrees with the economic elites, the elites tend to prevail in getting their way.[71] While not characterizing the United States as an "oligarchy" or "plutocracy" outright, Gilens and Page give weight to the idea of a "civil oligarchy" as used by Jeffrey A. Winters, saying, "Winters has posited a comparative theory of 'Oligarchy,' in which the wealthiest citizens—even in a 'civil oligarchy' like the United States—dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection." In their study, Gilens and Page reached these conclusions:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. ... [T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.[93]

E. J. Dionne Jr. described what he considers the effects of ideological and oligarchical interests on the judiciary. The journalist, columnist, and scholar interprets recent Supreme Court decisions as ones that allow wealthy elites to use economic power to influence political outcomes in their favor. In speaking about the Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC and Citizens United v. FEC decisions, Dionne wrote: "Thus has this court conferred on wealthy people the right to give vast sums of money to politicians while undercutting the rights of millions of citizens to cast a ballot."[94]

Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman wrote:

The stark reality is that we have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people. This threatens to make us a democracy in name only.[95]

A November 2022 study by Pew Research Center showed that majorities in both the Republican and Democratic parties held increasingly negative views of major financial institutions and large corporations.[96]

Gerrymandering[edit]

Gerrymandering is the practice of shaping the boundaries of electoral districts for partisan advantage—those boundaries being reviewed and usually changed after every United States census, i.e. every ten years. Gerrymandering involves what's commonly called "cracking and packing".

  • "Cracking" is the process of moving the boundaries of districts to spreads opposition voters thinly enough across many districts so that they constitute a safe margin below 50%. most districts dilute their power. are moved to of voters by moving the . Cracking spreads opposition voters thinly across many districts to dilute their power.
  • "Packing" is the process of concentrating opposition voters in one or more (but always a minority of) districts, to "waste" opposition votes.[97]

Used almost since the founding of the United States (the term was coined in 1810 after a review of Massachusetts's redistricting maps of 1812 set by Governor Elbridge Gerry noted that one of the districts looked like a salamander),[97] in the 21st century it has "become a much more effective tool".[97] Since 2010, detailed maps and high-speed computing have facilitated gerrymandering by political parties in the redistricting process, in order to gain control of state legislation and congressional representation and potentially to maintain that control over several decades, even against shifting political changes in a state's population. It allows the drawing of districts "with surgical precision".[97] According to Julia Kirschenbaum and Michael Li of the Brennan Center

In 2010, Republicans—in an effort to control the drawing of congressional maps—forged a campaign to win majorities in as many state legislatures as possible. It was wildly successful, giving them control over the drawing of 213 congressional districts. The redrawing of maps that followed produced some of the most extreme gerrymanders in history. In battleground Pennsylvania, for example, the congressional map gave Republicans a virtual lock on 13 of the state's 18 congressional districts, even in elections where Democrats won the majority of the statewide congressional vote.[98]

Attempts to appeal to the Supreme Court to disallow gerrymandering in cases such as Vieth v. Jubelirer in 2004 and its passing up of "numerous opportunities" in 2017 and 2018 "to decide upon the constitutional legality or illegality of gerrymandering" has "emboldened ever more partisan gerrymandering".[97]

In addition to giving one party power beyond its popular support, gerrymandering has been criticized for weakening the political power of minority voters by concentrated them into district(s) (though this process can also help ensure the election of a representative of the same race).[81]

Increase in polarization[edit]

Since the 1970s, the United States has grown more polarized, with rapid increases in polarization during the 2000s onwards.[99] The polarization has been both ideological (differences between the policy positions) and affective (i.e. a dislike and distrust of opposing political groups), than comparable democracies.[100][52]

Polarization among U.S. legislators is asymmetric, as it has primarily been driven by a substantial rightward shift among congressional Republicans, alongside a much smaller leftward shift among congressional Democrats.[101][102][103][104][105][106] New Democrats advocated for neoliberal policies including financial deregulation and free trade, which is seen to have shifted the Democratic Party rightwards on economic issues.[107][108][109][110] However, since the early 2010s, the party has shifted significantly to the left on social, cultural, and religious issues.[111] According to the Pew Research Center, members of both parties who have unfavorable opinions of the opposing party have doubled since 1994,[112] while those who have very unfavorable opinions of the opposing party are at record highs as of 2022.[113]

Concerns about refusal to accept defeat[edit]

Signs reading "Stop the Steal" and "Off with their heads", photographed on the day of the January 6 attack

Many commentators and scholars (such as David Leonhardt) have expressed alarm at the "growing movement inside one of the country's two major parties—the Republican Party—to refuse to accept defeat in an election".[87][114][115] In a survey by journalists (of the Washington Post) less than two months before the 2022 congressional election, a "majority of Republicans" in "important battleground" election campaigns, refused "to say they will accept the November election outcome".[116] Six key Senate and gubernatorial Republican party nominees refused to commit to accepting the results of the November election: Blake Masters in Arizona, J.D. Vance in Ohio, Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina, Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska, Tudor Dixon in Michigan and Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts.[117]

While the claim by a losing candidate that they won "despite clear evidence he lost", may have start with Donald Trump after his loss in 2020, during primaries leading up to the November 2022 general election, "candidates across the country have refused to concede—even in races that are not remotely close".[118]

The trend has been manifest in the violent January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol to prevent the certification of Joseph Biden as president, the hundreds of elected Republican officials throughout the United States that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged", some of whom "are running for statewide offices that would oversee future elections, potentially putting them in position to overturn an election in 2024 or beyond".[87] According to Yascha Mounk, "There is the possibility, for the first time in American history, that a legitimately elected president will not be able to take office".[87]

In part the phenomenon is international, democracies are struggling in other parts of the world led by the forces of "digital media, cultural change and economic stagnation in affluent countries".[87] Leonhardt states that "many experts point out that it is still not clear how the country will escape a larger crisis, such as an overturned election, at some point in the coming decade."[87]

Deterioration of other norms[edit]

Abandonment of campaign debates[edit]

In the 2022 elections observers have noted lack of participation in debates between candidates, and in the "retail politicking" that has been a political "cliché ... for generations" in American politics: pressing the flesh at "diners and state fairs ... town-hall-style meetings ... where citizens get to question their elected leaders and those running to replace them".[119] Replacing these are "safer spaces" for candidates, "partisan news outlets, fund-raisers with supporters, friendly local crowds," as the number of competitive House of Representative districts and "swing voters" grows smaller, and candidates concentrate on mobilizing the party loyalists rather than appealing to undecided voters (appeals touching on compromise and bipartisanship angering party hardliners).

Observers see a danger in candidates

Avoiding those tougher interactions cuts down on the opportunities for candidates' characters and limitations to be revealed, and for elected officials to be held accountable to those who elected them. For the politicians, it creates an artificial environment where their positions appear uniformly popular and opposing views are angrily denounced, making compromise seem risky.[119]

Other norms[edit]

Under the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump, observers (such as political scientist Brendan Nyhan) noted some erosion of political norms and ethics

  • acceptable background for high level officials. (Jeff Sessions was rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1986 for a federal judgeship because his history on racial issues was considered to be disqualifying, but served as U.S. Attorney General from February 9, 2017 to November 7, 2018.[120]
  • intolerance of criticism.[120] "Trump Threatens White House Protesters With 'Vicious Dogs' and 'Ominous Weapons'"[121]
  • tolerance for conflicts of interest in government. Public officials who are also a businessmen (Donald Trump) accepting money for their business (Trump hotel in Washington) from foreign governments with interests before the United States. ("The Trump hotel in Washington is pitching foreign diplomats on its services, which might violate a clause of the U.S. Constitution that is supposed to ensure that foreign governments can't buy favor with federal officials.")[120]
  • partisan abuse of power. After a Democratic candidate for governor won, Republican majorities in the legislatures of North Carolina, and Wisconsin voted in 2018 to "strip the legitimate powers of newly elected Democratic governors" while the "defeated or outgoing Republican incumbents are still around to sign the bills".[122]
  • Applying the rule of "Because we can". Announce on February 13, 2016, you will not allow hearings on a Democratic nominee (Merrick Garland) for the Supreme Court (Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell),[123][124] maintaining it was too close to the November 8, 2016 election (almost nine months away), and would deny the American people a "voice" in the selection of the next justice. Four years later, with a Republican now president, hold a ceremony for the nomination of a conservative justice for Supreme Court (Amy Coney Barrett) on September 26, 2020, a little more than one month (38 days) before Election Day, now claiming "I think it's very important that we have nine Justices" (Mitch McConnell).[123][125]

Suggested reforms[edit]

Electing Supreme Court Justices[edit]

With an implementation of term limits and holding elections for Supreme Court Justices the United States could simply solve the contentious battle for when Supreme Court members unexpectedly die. Packing the Supreme Court proposals would fade away if an election was going to decide the outcome. 33 States already elect their State Supreme Courts. William Watkins Jr. a Constitutional scholar from the Independent Institute on National Public Radio stated his proposal for 8 to 10 year one time term limits, he also said justices are suppose to be like umpires calling balls and strikes in the game but are acting more like coaches tinkering with starting lineups, and calling hit and runs. Local District attorneys and County Sheriffs are elected[126] and so could Supreme Court Justices. The United States Senate use to be appointed by State legislatures before the 17th Amendment was passed in 1913 for them to be elected. A Second Constitutional Convention of the States to Amend the Constitution could be a way for this reform to proceed.[127][128] [129] [130] [131]

Term limits for congress[edit]

Average Age of Congress
Percentage of Congress over the age of 70

Term limits for members of Congress was a movement that gained a lot of traction in the early 1990s. 23 State Governments passed legislation that term limited US Congress representatives from each respective state. A Supreme Court decision U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton in 1995 invalidated those 23 States term limits for their US Representatives. Newt Gingrich's Contract with America promised legislation in the first 100 days for a Constitution Amendment for term limits. The Term Limits Constitutional Amendment bill did not pass the 2/3 majority to move the bill forward and only passed with a simple majority of 227-204. It would have limited the House and Senate to 12 years total, six terms in the House, and two terms in the Senate.[132][133][134][135]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^ In 1970 a candidate of the Conservative Party of New York State (James L. Buckley) defeated the Democratic and Republican party candidates for U.S. Senate.
  3. ^ not to be confused with the American systems of having two senators representing each state, since the senator's elections in each state are staggered and do not run at the same time.
  4. ^ see also Sahil Chinoy: the Republican Party "leans much farther right than most traditional conservative parties in Western Europe and Canada", based on its party manifestos, while the Democratic Party is still close to other left-of-center parties in developed democracies.[55]
  5. ^ Ross Douthat explained the shift:[61]

    The Republican Party in the Trump era remained a mostly pro-business party in its policies but its constituencies and rhetoric have tilted more working class and populist ... much of corporate America has swung culturally into liberalism's camp. ... accelerated by anti-Trump backlash, the more left-leaning commitments of big business's younger customers and (especially) younger employees, ... As a consequence, today's G.O.P. is most clearly now the party of local capitalism—the small-business gentry, the family firms.... Much of the party elite wish to continue doing business with big business as before. But the party's base regards corporate institutions—especially in Silicon Valley, but extending to more traditional capitalist powers—as cultural enemies ...

    In the words of Republican Senator Marco Rubio: "Big Business is not our ally. They are eager culture warriors who use the language of wokeness to cover free-market capitalism." Journalist David Brooks argued that "the information age is transforming the American right. Conservatives have always inveighed against the cultural elite—the media, the universities, Hollywood. But in the Information Age, the purveyors of culture are now corporate titans".[62]
  6. ^ When conspiracy theories started appearing after the intruder attack with a hammer of 82-year-old Paul Pelvis, Chris Cillizza of CNN described them as "unfortunately, ... par for the course for the former president and the movement that he leads. The embrace of conspiracy theories sits at the very heart of Trumpism. Remember that Trump once suggested, without evidence, that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's father might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And that the Iowa caucuses had been stolen from him. And that the 2020 election was stolen from him. And that the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago might have really been an effort to reclaim Hillary Clinton's email server. Conspiracy theories have a special appeal to Trump because they speak to the underlying appeal he has to his followers: The elites in the country are always up to something nefarious and they are trying to keep that fact from you. They want to keep you in the dark, but you are too smart for that, so you see through the stories they are telling you."[63]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "America's new exceptionalism". The Economist. July 7, 2022. Retrieved October 17, 2022.
  2. ^ "Democracy Index 2021: the China challenge". Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "2012 Census of Governments". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012.
  4. ^ Statistical Abstract: 2010 p. 416.
  5. ^ Ann O'M. Bowman and Richard C. Kearney, State and Local Government: The Essentials (2008) p. 78
  6. ^ Osborne M. Reynolds, Jr., Local Government Law, 3rd ed. (St. Paul: West, 2009), 30.
  7. ^ Reynolds, 24.
  8. ^ "Mayor and City Commission". Talgov.com. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  9. ^ "Paradise". Paradise. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  10. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2002). 2002 Census of Governments, Vol 1, Number 1, Government Organization, GC02(1)-1 (PDF) (Report). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. vii–viii. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Reynolds, 31.
  12. ^ a b c EDICK, COLE (2015). "Relics of Colonialism: Overseas Territories Across the Globe". Harvard International Review. 37 (1): 11–12. ISSN 0739-1854. JSTOR 43746158.
  13. ^ "American Samoa". June 11, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  14. ^ Guthunz, Ute (1997). "Beyond Decolonization and Beyond Statehood? Puerto Rico's Political Development in Association with the United States". Iberoamericana (1977-2000). 21 (3/4 (67/68)): 42–55. ISSN 0342-1864. JSTOR 41671654.
  15. ^ a b c Kömives, Lisa M. (2004). "Enfranchising a Discrete and Insular Minority: Extending Federal Voting Rights to American Citizens Living in United States Territories". The University of Miami Inter-American Law Review. 36 (1): 115–138. ISSN 0884-1756. JSTOR 40176588.
  16. ^ "Suffragists Parade Down Fifth Avenue - 1917". The New York Times. 1917.
  17. ^ in this ballot voters are asked to vote for two school board candidates, "My Ballot". Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  18. ^ Wolf, Zachary B. (November 3, 2020). "The Electoral College, explained". CNN. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  19. ^ "Public funding of presidential elections".
  20. ^ Mishak, Michael (September 28, 2009). "Recession means there's less money for political campaigns". Las Vegas Sun.
  21. ^ "Connect with America".
  22. ^ Baker, Peter; VandeHei, Jim (November 8, 2006). "A Voter Rebuke For Bush, the War And the Right". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 26, 2010. Bush and senior adviser Karl Rove tried to replicate that strategy this fall, hoping to keep the election from becoming a referendum on the president's leadership.
  23. ^ "Election '98 Lewinsky factor never materialized". CNN. November 4, 1998. Americans shunned the opportunity to turn Tuesday's midterm elections into a referendum on President Bill Clinton's behavior, dashing Republican hopes of gaining seats in the House and Senate.
  24. ^ Daniel J. Hopkins (2018). The Increasingly United States: How and Why American Political Behavior Nationalized. University of Chicago Press.
  25. ^ Lee Drutman (May 31, 2018). "America has local political institutions but nationalized politics. This is a problem". Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h Lepore, Jill (October 6, 2008). "Rock, Paper, Scissors". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  27. ^ "Number of Federal PACs Increases". FEC. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  28. ^ Michael Schudson in his 1998 book The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life.
  29. ^ Davis, William L., and Bob Figgins. 2009. Do Economists Believe American Democracy Is Working? Econ Journal Watch 6(2): 195-202. Econjwatch.org
  30. ^ a b c BERNSTEIN, ELIZABETH; JAKOBSEN, JANET R (2010). "Sex, Secularism and Religious Influence in US Politics". Third World Quarterly. 31 (6): 1023–1039. doi:10.1080/01436597.2010.502739. ISSN 0143-6597. JSTOR 27896595. PMID 20857575. S2CID 39112453.
  31. ^ a b Fairbanks, David (1977). "Religious Forces and "Morality" Policies in the American States". The Western Political Quarterly. 30 (3): 411–417. doi:10.2307/447941. ISSN 0043-4078. JSTOR 447941.
  32. ^ Patricia U. Bonomi, A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York (Columbia U.P., 1971) pp 281-2
  33. ^ Anton-Hermann, The Rise of the legal profession in America (2 vol 1965), vol 1.
  34. ^ Bonomi, A Factious People, pp. 281-286
  35. ^ Robert P. Kraynak (2015). "THE AMERICAN FOUNDERS AND THEIR RELEVANCE TODAY". Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
  36. ^ "Creating the United States". Library of Congress. April 12, 2008.
  37. ^ Weeks, J. (2007). Inequality Trends in Some Developed OECD Countries. In J. K. S. & J. Baudot (Eds.) Flat world, big gaps: Economic liberalization, globalization, poverty & inequality (159-176). New York: Zed Books.
  38. ^ Thomas, E. (March 10, 2008). "He knew he was right". Newsweek. Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2008.
  39. ^ Clark, B. (1998). Political economy: A comparative approach. Westport, CT: Preager.
  40. ^ Alber, Jens (1988). "Is there a crisis of the welfare state? Crossnational evidence from Europe, North America, and Japan". European Sociological Review. 4 (3): 181–205. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.esr.a036484.
  41. ^ Barr, N. (2004). Economics of the welfare state. New York: Oxford University Press (USA).
  42. ^ "Economist Intelligence Unit. (July 11, 2007). United States: Political Forces". The Economist. Retrieved June 3, 2008.
  43. ^ Francis, Ellen (February 10, 2021). "Global freedoms have hit a 'dismal' record low, with pandemic restrictions making things worse, report says". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  44. ^ "Democracy Index 2021: the China challenge". Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  45. ^ In Federalist Papers No. 9 and No. 10, respectively
  46. ^ "Political Parties - The Founding Fathers & Political Parties". Shmoop. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  47. ^ Washington's Farewell Address Wikisource has information on "Washington's Farewell Address#20"
  48. ^ a b "Democratic party". Britannica. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  49. ^ Jules Witcover, Party of the People: A History of the Democrats (2003)
  50. ^ Lewis L. Gould, The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party (Oxford University Press, 2014).
  51. ^ Boxell, Levi; Gentzkow, Matthew; Shapiro, Jesse M. (2022). "Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization" (PDF). The Review of Economics and Statistics: 1–60. doi:10.1162/rest_a_01160. ISSN 0034-6535. S2CID 246583807.
  52. ^ a b Draca, Mirko; Schwarz, Carlo (May 11, 2021). "How Polarized Are Citizens? Measuring Ideology from the Ground-Up". Social Science Research Network. SSRN 3154431.
  53. ^ Finkel, Eli J.; Bail, Christopher A.; Cikara, Mina; Ditto, Peter H.; Iyengar, Shanto; Klar, Samara; Mason, Lilliana; McGrath, Mary C.; Nyhan, Brendan; Rand, David G.; Skitka, Linda J. (October 30, 2020). "Political sectarianism in America". Science. 370 (6516): 533–536. doi:10.1126/science.abe1715. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 33122374.
  54. ^ Desilver, Drew (March 10, 2022). "The polarization in today's Congress has roots that go back decades". Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  55. ^ Chinoy, Sahil (June 26, 2019). "What Happened to America's Political Center of Gravity?". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  56. ^ Krauss, Clifford (March 17, 1992). "The House Bank; Gingrich Takes No Prisoners in the House's Sea of Gentility". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2022. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the Republican whip, who is described even by his friends as a bomb thrower, a pit bull, a guerrilla. ... the triumph of a militant style of Republican leadership that the House has not seen for decades.
  57. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (July 6, 2022). "How conservatism conquered America — and corrupted itself". Vox. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  58. ^ a b c "How the Republican Party came to embrace conspiracy theories and denialism [Interview by Terry Gross of Dana Milbank, author of The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five-Year Crack-Up Of The Republican Party". NPR. August 9, 2022. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  59. ^ "The Republican Party has lurched towards populism and illiberalism". The Economist. October 31, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  60. ^ Lizza, Ryan (November 11, 2015). "When Donald Trump Met Edmund Burke". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 9, 2022. The Burkeans have been losing ground in the Republican Party for a while now. Too often their old conception of conservatism strikes others in the G.O.P. as a form of surrender or, at the very least, an acceptance of the liberal status quo.
  61. ^ Ross Douthat. "What Does the Right Do When Big Business Turns Against Republicans?" New York Times April 27, 2022
  62. ^ Brooks, David (November 18, 2021). "The Terrifying Future of the American Right". Atlantic.
  63. ^ Chris Cillizza (November 1, 2022). "Donald Trump joins the Paul Pelosi conspiracy caucus". CNN. Retrieved November 2, 2022.
  64. ^ Benen, Steve (November 2, 2021). "Data shows GOP voters skeptical of 'bedrock principle of democracy'". MSNBC. Retrieved November 9, 2022. When looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, it is remarkable that a bedrock principle of democracy — that losing candidates and their supporters accept the results — is not held by nearly two in three Republicans who say they will question the results if their candidate does not win. (pollster Lee Miringoff)
  65. ^ a b Bauman, Anna; Clayson, Jane (August 28, 2020). "Tracing The Path Of The Modern GOP, From Reagan To Trump". On Point. WBUR. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  66. ^ Jamelle Bouie (November 11, 2022). "A Shock to the System Is Coming. Which Party Will Be Ready for It?". Opinion. The New York Times.
  67. ^ Stanley L. Engerman; Kenneth L. Sokoloff (February 2005). "The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World" (PDF). pp. 16, 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2022. By 1840, only three states retained a property qualification, North Carolina (for some state-wide offices only), Rhode Island, and Virginia. In 1856 North Carolina was the last state to end the practice. Tax-paying qualifications were also gone in all but a few states by the Civil War, but they survived into the 20th century in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
  68. ^ "Biden's Approval Rating Surges After Hitting Low Mark In July, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Half Of Americans Say Trump Should Be Prosecuted On Criminal Charges Over His Handling Of Classified Documents. 21. Do you think the nation's democracy is in danger of collapse, or don't you think so?". Qinnipiac University poll. August 31, 2022. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  69. ^ Thomas B. Edsall (September 28, 2022). "Seven Years of Trump Has the Right Wing Taking the Long View". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  70. ^ a b Sevcik, J.C. (April 16, 2014) "The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes" UPI
  71. ^ a b c Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page (2014). "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (PDF). Perspectives on Politics. 12 (3): 564–581. doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595.
  72. ^ Newkirk, Vann R. II (December 14, 2021). "When the Myth of Voter Fraud Comes for You". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  73. ^ a b c d e f Ellis, William Curtis; Wilson, Walter Clark (2013). "Minority Chairs and Congressional Attention to Minority Issues: The Effect of Descriptive Representation in Positions of Institutional Power". Social Science Quarterly. 94 (5): 1207–1221. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12023. ISSN 0038-4941. JSTOR 42864138.
  74. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l English, Ashley; Pearson, Kathryn; Strolovitch, Dara Z. (2019). "Who Represents Me? Race, Gender, Partisan Congruence, and Representational Alternatives in a Polarized America". Political Research Quarterly. 72 (4): 785–804. doi:10.1177/1065912918806048. ISSN 1065-9129. JSTOR 45223003. S2CID 158576286.
  75. ^ a b c Jeong, Hoi Ok (2013). "Minority Policies and Political Participation Among Latinos: Exploring Latinos' Response to Substantive Representation". Social Science Quarterly. 94 (5): 1245–1260. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00883.x. ISSN 0038-4941. JSTOR 42864140.
  76. ^ a b c d e f Dolan, Kathleen; Hansen, Michael (2018). "Blaming Women or Blaming the System? Public Perceptions of Women's Underrepresentation in Elected Office". Political Research Quarterly. 71 (3): 668–680. doi:10.1177/1065912918755972. ISSN 1065-9129. JSTOR 45106690. S2CID 149220469.
  77. ^ a b c d e LGBTQ Politics: A Critical Reader. NYU Press. 2017. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1pwt8jh. ISBN 978-1-4798-9387-4. JSTOR j.ctt1pwt8jh.
  78. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sanbonmatsu, Kira (2020). "Women's Underrepresentation in the U.S. Congress". Daedalus. 149 (1): 40–55. doi:10.1162/daed_a_01772. ISSN 0011-5266. JSTOR 48563031. S2CID 209487865.
  79. ^ a b c d e Shah, Paru (2014). "It Takes a Black Candidate: A Supply-Side Theory of Minority Representation". Political Research Quarterly. 67 (2): 266–279. doi:10.1177/1065912913498827. ISSN 1065-9129. JSTOR 24371782. S2CID 155069482.
  80. ^ a b c d e Wallace, Sophia J. (2014). "Examining Latino Support for Descriptive Representation: The Role of Identity and Discrimination". Social Science Quarterly. 95 (2): 311–327. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12038. ISSN 0038-4941. JSTOR 26612166.
  81. ^ a b c d e f Schroedel, Jean Reith; Aslanian, Artour (2017). "A Case Study of Descriptive Representation: The Experience of Native American Elected Officials in South Dakota". American Indian Quarterly. 41 (3): 250–286. doi:10.5250/amerindiquar.41.3.0250. ISSN 0095-182X. JSTOR 10.5250/amerindiquar.41.3.0250. S2CID 159930747.
  82. ^ a b c d Haider-Markel, Donald P. (2007). "Representation and Backlash: The Positive and Negative Influence of Descriptive Representation". Legislative Studies Quarterly. 32 (1): 107–133. doi:10.3162/036298007X202001. ISSN 0362-9805. JSTOR 40263412.
  83. ^ N. Buyn, et al., "Freedom in the World 2020: A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy" (Washington, DC: Freedom House, 2020): https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/FIW_2020_REPORT_BO….
  84. ^ A Luhrmann et al., Autocratization Surge–Resistance Grows: Democracy Report 2020 (Lindenberg: Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem), 2020): https://www.v-dem.net/media/filer_public/f0/5d/f05d46d8-626f-4b20-8e4e-….
  85. ^ Democracy Index 2020 (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020): https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index.
  86. ^ Levitsky, Steven; Ziblatt, Daniel (Fall 2020). "The Crisis of American Democracy". American Educator. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  87. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Leonhardt, David (September 17, 2022). "DEMOCRACY CHALLENGED 'A Crisis Coming': The Twin Threats to American Democracy". The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  88. ^ A professor of government at Harvard University and a co-author of the book How Democracies Die, with Daniel Ziblatt. Quoted in Leonhardt, David (September 17, 2022). "DEMOCRACY CHALLENGED 'A Crisis Coming': The Twin Threats to American Democracy". The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  89. ^ "Did Clinton win more votes than any white man in history?". BBC News. December 12, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  90. ^ Piketty, Thomas (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Belknap Press. ISBN 067443000X p. 514: *"the risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed."
  91. ^ (French economist Thomas Piketty), Associated Press, December 23, 2017, Q&A: A French economist's grim view of wealth gap, Accessed April 26, 2014, "...The main problem to me is really the proper working of our democratic institutions. It's just not compatible with an extreme sort of oligarchy where 90 percent of the wealth belongs to a very tiny group ..."
  92. ^ Alan Wolfe (book reviewer), October 24, 2010, The Washington Post, Review of "The Mendacity of Hope," by Roger D. Hodge, Accessed April 26, 2014, "...Although Hodge devotes a chapter to foreign policy, the main charge he levels against Obama is that, like all politicians in the United States, he serves at the pleasure of a financial oligarchy. ... "
  93. ^ Gilens, Martin; Page, Benjamin I. (2014). "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens". Perspectives on Politics. 12 (3): 564–581. doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
  94. ^ E. J. Dionne Jr., April 6, 2014, The Washington Post, Supreme oligarchy, Accessed April 26, 2014. "...Thus has this court conferred on wealthy people the right to give vast sums of money to politicians while undercutting the rights of millions of citizens to cast a ballot."
  95. ^ Paul Krugman, The New York Times, November 3, 2011, Oligarchy, American Style, Accessed April 26, 2014
  96. ^ Dunn, Amina; Cerda, Andy (November 17, 2022). "Anti-corporate sentiment in U.S. is now widespread in both parties". Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  97. ^ a b c d e Short, John Rennie (October 29, 2018). "4 Reasons Gerrymandering Is Getting Worse". UMBC Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  98. ^ Li, Michael; Kirschenbaum, Julia (August 12, 2021). "Explainer. Gerrymandering Explained". Brennan Center. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  99. ^ Grumbach, Jacob M. (2018). "From Backwaters to Major Policymakers: Policy Polarization in the States, 1970–2014". Perspectives on Politics. 16 (2): 416–435. doi:10.1017/S153759271700425X. ISSN 1537-5927.
  100. ^ Boxell, Levi; Gentzkow, Matthew; Shapiro, Jesse M. (2022). "Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization" (PDF). The Review of Economics and Statistics: 1–60. doi:10.1162/rest_a_01160. ISSN 0034-6535. S2CID 246583807.
  101. ^ Hacker, Jacob S.; Pierson, Paul (2015), Persily, Nathaniel (ed.), "Confronting Asymmetric Polarization", Solutions to Political Polarization in America, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 59–70, ISBN 978-1-107-45191-9, retrieved February 4, 2021
  102. ^ Bonica, Adam; Sen, Maya (2021). "Estimating Judicial Ideology". Journal of Economic Perspectives. 35 (1): 97–118. doi:10.1257/jep.35.1.97. ISSN 0895-3309.
  103. ^ Benkler, Yochai; Faris, Robert; Roberts, Hal (October 18, 2018). Polarization in American Politics. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780190923624.003.0010. ISBN 978-0-19-092362-4.
  104. ^ "Asymmetric Constitutional Hardball". Columbia Law Review. Retrieved February 6, 2021. Social scientists have shown convincingly that since the 1970s, Republicans have moved further to the right than Democrats have moved to the left
  105. ^ Rackaway, Chapman; Rice, Laurie L. (2018), Rackaway, Chapman; Rice, Laurie L. (eds.), "Introduction: Turning Lemons into Lemonade? Party Strategy as Compensation for External Stresses", American Political Parties Under Pressure: Strategic Adaptations for a Changing Electorate, Springer, pp. 1–13, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-60879-2_1, ISBN 978-3-319-60879-2, In recent years, scholarly research has delved into the issue of asymmetric polarization. This is the idea the Republican Party is more uniformly conservative than the Democratic Party is united by liberalism. This is appearing to be true at the mass level and, to a greater degree, among elected officials.
  106. ^ DeSilver, Drew (March 10, 2022). "The polarization in today's Congress has roots that go back decades". Pew Research Center. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  107. ^ Hickel, Jason (2016). "Neoliberalism and the End of Democracy". In Springer, Simon; Birch, Kean; MacLeavy, Julie (eds.). The Handbook of Neoliberalism. Routledge. p. 144. ISBN 978-1138844001.
  108. ^ Marangos, John; Astroulakis, Nikos; Dafnomili, Maria (2013). "Beyond US Neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus: The Challenge of Development Ethics for the USA". In Karagiannis, Nikolaos; Madjd-Sadjadi, Zagros; Sen, Swapan (eds.). The US Economy and Neoliberalism: Alternative Strategies and Policies. Routledge. p. 58. ISBN 978-1138904910.
  109. ^ Scheidel, Walter (2017). The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. Princeton University Press. p. 416. ISBN 978-0691165028.
  110. ^ Gerstle, Gary (2022). The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–3. ISBN 978-0197519646.
  111. ^ Zengerle, Jason; Metz, Justin (June 29, 2022). "The Vanishing Moderate Democrat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 20, 2022. Over the last decade, the Democratic Party has moved significantly to the left on almost every salient political issue... on social, cultural and religious issues, particularly those related to criminal justice, race, abortion and gender identity, the Democrats have taken up ideological stances that many of the college-educated voters who now make up a sizable portion of the party's base cheer...
  112. ^ Doherty, Carroll (June 17, 2014). "Which party is more to blame for political polarization? It depends on the measure". Pew Research Center. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  113. ^ "How Democrats and Republicans see each other". The Economist. August 17, 2022. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  114. ^ "Democracy Report 2022 Autocratization Changing Nature?" (PDF). V-Dem. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  115. ^ Homans, Charles (July 19, 2022). "How 'Stop the Steal' Captured the American Right". The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  116. ^ Knox, Olivier (September 19, 2022). "Meet the Republicans who might not accept defeat in November". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  117. ^ Epstein, Reid (September 18, 2022). "Echoing Trump, These Republicans Won't Promise to Accept 2022". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  118. ^ Fowler, Stephen (July 2, 2022). "These candidates lost badly, but now are claiming fraud". NPR. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  119. ^ a b Lerer, Lisa; Ulloa, Jazmine (October 19, 2022). "As Campaign Norms Erode, Even Debates Are Under Debate". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  120. ^ a b c Foran, Clare (November 22, 2016). "'An Erosion of Democratic Norms in America'". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  121. ^ Haberman, Maggie (May 30, 2020). "Trump Threatens White House Protesters With 'Vicious Dogs' and 'Ominous Weapons'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  122. ^ Packer, George (December 14, 2018). "The Corruption of the Republican Party". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  123. ^ a b Cox, Chelsey (October 20, 2020). "Fact check: Senate Republicans moving to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee but blocked Obama's". USA Today. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  124. ^ Totenberg, Nina (September 6, 2016). "Politics 170-Plus Days And Counting: GOP Unlikely To End Supreme Court Blockade Soon". NPR. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  125. ^ Green, Emma (October 15, 2020). "How the Senate Stopped Pretending". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  126. ^ "Local Politics 101: The Role of a District Attorney".
  127. ^ "Op-Ed: Supreme Court Justices Should be Elected". NPR.
  128. ^ "Should we restructure the Supreme Court?". March 2, 2020.
  129. ^ "A Role for the People in Judicial Selection | William J. Watkins, Jr".
  130. ^ "17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Direct Election of U.S. Senators (1913)". September 15, 2021.
  131. ^ "Term Limits Convention Progress Map".
  132. ^ "H. Rept. 104-67 - TERM LIMITS FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS".
  133. ^ "Term limits in the United States".
  134. ^ https://clerk.house.gov/evs/1995/roll277.xml[bare URL]
  135. ^ "U.S. Term Limits, Inc. V. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)".

Further reading[edit]

  • The Almanac of American Politics 2022 (2022) details on members of Congress, and the governors: their records and election results; also state and district politics; revised every two years since 1975. details; see The Almanac of American Politics
  • American National Biography (20 volumes, 1999) covers all politicians no longer alive; online at many academic libraries and at Wikipedia Library.
  • Brewer, Mark D. and L. Sandy Maisel. Parties and Elections in America: The Electoral Process (9th ed. 2020) excerpt
  • Edwards, George C. Martin P. Wattenberg, and Robert L. Lineberry. Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy (16th Edition, 2013), textbook
  • Finkelman, Paul, and Peter Wallenstein, eds. The Encyclopedia of American Political History (2001), short essays by scholars
  • Greene, Jack P., ed. Encyclopedia of American Political History: Studies of the Principal Movements and Ideas (3 vol. 1984), long essays by scholars
  • Hershey, Marjorie R. Party Politics in America (18th Edition, 2021) excerpt
  • Hetherington, Marc J., and Bruce A. Larson. Parties, Politics, and Public Policy in America (11th edition, 2009), 301 pp; textbook
  • Kazin, Michael, Rebecca Edwards, and Adam Rothman, eds. The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (2 vol 2009)
  • Kazin, Michael. What It Took to Win: A History of the Democratic Party (2022) excerpt
  • Magleby, David B. et al. Government by the People: Structure, Action, and Impact (2020 Presidential Election Edition; Pearson, 27th Edition, 2022) overview
  • Maisel, L. Sandy, ed. Political Parties and Elections in the United States: an Encyclopedia 2 vol (Garland, 1991). (ISBN 0-8240-7975-2), short essays by scholars
  • Maisel, L. Sandy. American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction (2007), 144 pp
  • O'Connor, Karen, Larry J. Sabato, and Alixandra B. Yanus. American Government: American Government: Roots and Reform (11th ed. 2011)
  • Wilson, James Q., et al. American Government: Institutions and Policies (16th ed. 2018) excerpt

External links[edit]

Official party websites