Huntingdon College | Political Science | Courses
PSC 201: American Government

Serow (ed) Lanahan Readings in the American Polity, 4/e

Part 13: Political Parties, Student Outlines

compiled from student contributions (thanks), revised 12/3/17, by Jeremy Lewis
73: Walter Dean Burnham, "Critical Elections."
74: Ceaser & Busch, "Red Over Blue" (realignment) [+]
78: Mark Monmonier, "Bushmanders & Bullwinkles"
75: Black & Black, "Rise of Southern Republicans."
80: Larry Sabato, "Feeding Frenzy." [Moved to Media section]

80. David Broder, "Party's Over" [Discontinued]
81: Baer, "Reinventing Democrats" [Discontinued]
67: Xandra Kayden, "Party Goes On." [Discontinued]
71: Harrison Salisbury, "A Time of Change." [Discontinued]
75: EJ Dionne, " They Only Look Dead." Discontinued

71. Walter Dean Burnham, from “Critical Elections”
Notes by Justala Simpson, Fall 2017

Walter Dean Burnham was born in 1930, in Columbus, Ohio. Burnham is an authority on American elections and voting patterns. Burnham is a Political Scientist Professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin.
Before his time in Texas, Burnham worked closely with V.O. Key, during his time at Harvard University, where he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1963.
Theory of Critical Realignments Critical Realignments v. [Secular Realignment, Stable Alignment Eras, & Deviating Elections] Conditions for Critical Realignment Critical Realignments result in the following: Conclusion

73: Walter Dean Burnham-Critical Elections
by Alexis Johnson, Fall 2009
-Walter Dean Burnham, born in 1930, is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a specialist in election returns, and is famous for interpreting the data. He is primarily involved in American Election data from 1824-1960. He wrote Critical Elections and the Mainsprings of American Politics in 1970.

-Some elections have more important long-range consequences for the political system than others.

-Critical Realignments are of fundamental importance not only to the system of political action, but also to the clarification of some aspects of operation.

-They are defined as abrupt coalitional changes among the mass-based electorate.
-This would be the opposite of a secular realignment which is a gradual change in voter
-American political institutions and leadership, once defined in a “normal phase” of our politics, seem to become part of the very conditions that threaten to overthrow them.

-Critical realignment differs from secular realignment in the following ways:

1. The Critical realignment is characteristically associated with short-lived but very intense disruptions of traditional patterns of voting behavior.
2. Critical elections are characterized by abnormally high intensity.
 -This forcefulness overflows into party nominations and platform writing machinery, contributing to division, instead of integration .
 -The rise in intensity is related to an increase in ideological polarizations, beginning within one or more parties, and ultimately between them.
  -The rise in intensity is found in abnormally heavy voter participation
 3. Critical realignments do not occur at random
 4. American parties are essentially constituent or voter parties, made up of very diverse people
-Critical realignments emerge directly from the dynamics of this constituent-function supremacy in American politics. Realignments are constituent acts because:
1. They arise from emergent tensions in society
2. They result in significant transformations in policy
3. They have relatively profound aftereffects in the roles of institutional elites
4. They are involved with redefinitions of the universe of
a. Voters
b. Political parties
c. And the broad boundaries of the politically possible
-Realignments occur every generation, or every 30-38 years.
-The timing of the realignments is caused almost solely by circumstances.
-The rise of third-party protest indicates an increasing gap between the perceived expectations citizens have of the political process and the perceived realities of the political process. In other words, dissatisfaction triggers protest movements.
-A very notable example of this was Ross Perot, who ran in 1992. His ability to sway the public to vote for him was a direct result of the major candidate’s inability to resolve issues. He successfully divided the Republican Party and enabled Bill Clinton to win the election.

#79 Walter Dean Burnham
By Kristi Winstead, 2001

A political science educator, a member of the NPQ Board of Advisors.  He wrote several books including Democracy in the Making, Critical Elections, and The Current Crisis in American Politics.  Walter Burnham is currently the chair of the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.  Burnham has also taught at MIT and Boston College.

Political Science is an "art" more than a "science"

Burnham says that some elections tend to have more important  long-range consequences than others and that they "decide" substantive issues in a more "clear-cut way."

He uses the elections of 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896, and 1932 as examples for turning points in the American Politics.

Burnham tries to assess the structure, function, and implications or critical realignments for the American political process.

critical realignments are a fundamental part of American politics

Politics in America are not politics as usual.

"Ideal-typical" form of critical realignments:
    1.  usually short lived but very intense
    2.  critical elections have extremely high intensity
        A.  intensity usually "spills" over into the party nominating and plat-form writing machinery cause convention behavior to shift from the "norm" causing major parties to contribute to polarization
        B.  issue distances between parties increase
        C.  unusually high voter participation
    3.  critical realignments are not usually random in appearance, but have a remarkably uniform periodicity
    4.  American political parties are "constituent parties"

Realignments are constituent acts which arise from emergent tensions in society

Usually parties ignore tension until it explodes and becomes a huge issue

Third parties usually bring out the tension...
    An issue could be important but is kept silent. Major parties ignore the issue because it will stir up debate and hurt the support for the party.  Eventually, a Third Party candidate runs on that issue and forces the major parties to address the issue.  This then causes a critical realignment.

Burnham thinks that American political parties are not action instrumentality's; as organizations they are interested in in control of offices but not government in the broader sense

There is no motivation among party leaders to disturb the routines of the game; these routines are only changed by the application of overwhelming external force, third parties.

74 Ceaser & Busch, "Red Over Blue" (realignment) [+]
notes by Jeremy Lewis, Fall 2007

78: Mark Monmonier, "Bushmanders & Bullwinkles"
by McMillan Arrington, 2003

I. Remapping

 a. Every ten years districts are remapped using census data
 b. Districts are for state congress and legislature
II. Gerrymandering
a. “Deliberately increasing the number of districts in which a particular party or group is in the majority”
b. Gerrymandering is not illegal, but it is also not always considered fair
c. Monomiers purpose is to show pro’s and con’s of redistricting
III. Bushmanders and Bullwinkles
a. Complex districts emerged due to the Voting Rights Act of 1965
1. Act Bans racial discrimination
2. Defends the right of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice
3. Prohibits political cartographers from splitting a district in which a minority group is the majority.
b. Computers have increased redistricting effectiveness since the early 1990’s
IV. Redistricting raises three questions
a. Does race matter?
 1. Yes race matters- By pooling interest groups you make their votes more effective
b. Does shape matter?
 1 No evidence suggests that shape matters
c. Does geography matter?
 1.Demographic affinity is more relevant to most concerns than neighborhoods are and their issues

82: Black & Black, "Rise of Southern Republicans." [+]
Kevin Akins

Southern US was once a solid Democratic region, but this has changed.

“The Great White Switch” began with Senator Goldwater and his stance against the Civil Rights Act; it was later revamped by the Reagan Presidency, after the weaker Carter era. This is when southerners began to frequently say, “I am Republican.”
Now the south is a toss-up. Every race can be won by either of the 2 major parties.
Initially, race and civil rights were the cause of many switches; this has since yielded to conservative view points that sway many to the Republican side.
In past, Republican Party represented only the North and West US, and was not strong by any means. The south in 1950 had no Republican Senators and only 2 Representatives out of 105, for example.
A direct change was also seen by the Congressional Elections in 1994, when Republicans took both houses of Congress, repeating the act in 2002.
Old Democratic south had racial tensions, strong religious support, and heightened family values, all of which have switched to the Republican Party of present, to an extent.
Also contributing to the rise of Republicans is a growth in middle and upper class households, who feel the Republican Party best suits their economic interests.
Reagan realigned white conservatives, bringing many to the party. He also got the moderate and more liberal people to change their minds and move towards an independent or Republican stance, rather than Democrat. Much of this was the platform, current issues, and the power of the Federal Government (affirmative action, abortion, equal rights opportunity act, etc).
Southern U.S. is now the center for party politics, as it ultimately decides the fate of many public officials.

72: Larry Sabato, "Feeding Frenzy" [Moved to Media section]
Tiffany Holley, 2002

-Feeding Frenzy - the press en masse attacks a wounded politician whose record, or more accurately, his or her character has been questioned.
-The wounds may have been self-inflicted, and the politician may richly deserve his or her fate, but the journalists now take center stage in the process, creating the news as much as reporting it, changing both the shape of election-year politics and the contours of government.
-Press invasion of privacy is leading to the gradual erasure of the line protecting a public
person's purely private life.
-Gossip has always been the drug of choice for journalists, as well as, the rest of the
political community.
-The press has become obsessed with gossip rather than government; it prefers to employ titillation rather than scrutiny.
    -As a result, its political coverage produces trivialization rather than enlightenment.
-Frenzy- suggests some kind of disorderly, compulsive, or agitated activity that is muscular and instinctive, not cerebral and thoughtful.
-The news cycle without end- creates a voracious news appetite demanding to be fed
constantly, increasing the pressure to include  marginal bits of information and gossip and producing novel, if not distorting, "angels" on the same news to differentiate one report from another.
-Press energies are devoted to finding more variations on a theme, while a mob psychology catches hold that allows little mercy for the frenzy victim.
-Watergate shifted the orientation of journalism away from mere description -providing an accurate account of happenings and  toward prescription - helping to set the campaign's agendas by focusing attention on the candidate's shortcomings, as well as,  certain social problems.
-The price of power has been raised dramatically, far too high for many outstanding potential office holders.

66: David Broder, From The Party’s Over [discontinued]
Jennie Pratt, 2001
70s Journalist
advocates Political Parties
-political parties are the people’s tool for disciplining Government
-they sort out, weigh, and reconcile the conflicting needs and demands of the   people, organize them for the
contest for public office, and serve as a link between those who govern and those governed
-they bring issues out, issues too intense to be settled by simple majority referendum
-they are capable of taking a need felt by the minority and making it a part of the majority’s program

explains that America has inactive parties
-weakened by years of neglect by president, public officials and then voters
-weakened because of failure to keep with the changing times, not adapting to social changes and
technological advances
-not dead yet
-the people can decide the fate of these parties
-will take years to repair; process painful and expensive

gives brief history of parties
-founding fathers were against parties
-not in the Constitution
 -however we have always had them

explains status of parties greatly affects government
-when parties function improperly America greatly suffers; government does not work efficiently when parties
do not work efficiently
-Civil war is an example of parties not working together; irreconcilable differences
-periods of stagnation transpire when parties fail to bring emerging public questions to the point of electoral decision, causing a slippery slope:people lose control of government, they feel powerless in politics, interest in politics declines rapidly, voting becomes pointless

discusses Sundquist and Burnham’s theory
-he admits they are both more intelligent in American political science than he
-both agree America is in wrong stage to expect anything but weak responses and confused signals from parties
-last major party realignment was 1932 before the new deal policies of government intervention in the economy and development of the welfare state
-until an issue emerges like the Great Depression, we cannot expect a realignment
-supposedly there was a thirty-six year cycle:1932 and then 1968, but nothing happened in 68

speaks of popular dissatisfaction with two-part system
 -decline in voting
-rise in number of voters who refuse to identify themselves with either party
-increase in ticket splitting
-increase use of third parties

lists many structural reforms --  discuss in presentation

wants us to ask ourselves as voters
-what do we want the government to accomplish?
-which candidate, which party would accomplish it better?
-why are we splitting the ticket?
-is there no difference between parties?
-do we distrust them both so much that we wish to set them against one another?

provides solution
-increase in the participation by the public in party affairs
-we the people must use our instrument, political parties to their fullest potential

66: David Broder, The Party’s Over [discontinued]
(Hannah Kim, 2000)

David Broder:
Journalist, writer of the book "The Party’s over" in the early 1970s
The Party’s over
He implies the decline of American Political parties
attributes many of American’s governmental problems to the parties problems
pleas for stronger party unity in Congress
expanded role for parties in the campaign process
asks for less ticket-splitting and more partisan allegiance to voters

His view of American politics is at an impasse. Party loyalists have been seriously destroyed little by little,the Democratic and Republican organizations weakend by years of neglect, but not dead yet.

The reason for government stalemate
We have not used the political party available to us for disciplining government to meet our needs.


To solve problems:
  1. Giving strong public support to those reform efforts which in the recent past have been carried on eitirely by a small group
  2. Seeking to strengthen the liaison between the presidency and Congress, on a mutual basis and between the presidency and the needs of state and local government.
  3. Electing the president in the same way we elect all the officials, by direct vote of his constituents

  4. Expanding the role and responsibilities of the party caucuses and the party leaders in Congress

81: Baer, "Reinventing Democrats" [Discontinued]
Jonathan T. Lyons, Fall 2005
 -Baer begins by discussing the importance of a State of the Union address during an election year.  Baer begins to describe a president who stands in front of a Republican House Speaker and a Republican Senate majority leader and eventually proclaims “The era of big government is over”.  This president is Bill Clinton.

-Ten months after this speech, Clinton became the first Democratic president to win reelection to a 2nd full term since FDR in 1936

-This speech marked a great change in the party, as for the past thirty years Democrats were seen as reflexive defenders of federal government programs, pacifist isolationists, and advocates of an active social liberalism.  The party now had a president who championed the reinvention of government, welfare reform, fiscal restraint, and economic growth.

-This new public philosophy and the electoral success was a result of the efforts of the New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council.  This group was formed by members of the party after the 1984 election when many feared the party was in danger of marginalization or even extinction.  The goal of the Council was to create a mainstream public philosophy that had electoral appeal.

-Clinton, who was the DLC chairman at one point, will likely be remembered more for the reorganization of the party than reforming the Federal Government

-The DLC was formed in February of 1985 after the failure to claim the White House in 1984.  Liberals in the party immediately began referring to the New Democrats as right-wing and as “Democrats for the Leisure Class”, which immediately brought the committee under intense scrutiny.  The Democratic National Committee, fearing internal strife, put the DLC under its umbrella and ensured the group’s survival.

-Another presidential defeat in 1988 breathed life into the DLC, and the committee embarked on an aggressive presidential strategy.  Clinton took over the committee in the spring of 1989, and throughout 1990 and 1991 the retooling of the DLC became a springboard for his presidential run.

-Once Clinton reached the White House, it seemed if he had abandoned the New Democrats.  Clinton was proposing “Old” (liberal) Democratic policies, and the DLC was demoralized.  The elections of 1994 changed this, as the Republicans took over Congress and reinvigorated the DLC.  The outcome convinced Clinton to re embrace the New Democratic public philosophy.  When the 1996 election rolled around, Clinton could point to a balanced budget, his signature on a welfare reform bill, and initiatives targeting the middle class to pump up his New Democratic credentials. His return to the New Democratic agenda helped him handily win the election.

-The scandal of 1998 directly affected the New Democrats and the DLC.  It threatened not only the viability of their most powerful supporter but also risked overshadowing Clinton’s efforts to remake the Democratic Party in his image.  Though prominent DLC officials chastised Clinton for his behavior, the DLC’s position on the scandal never wavered from that of the White House.  The organization condemned the sin but loved the sinner.

67: Xandra Kayden & Eddie Mahe, "The Party Goes On." [Discontinued]
Tiffany Holley, 2002

-Old-style party activism is a thing of the past
    -Campaigning is increasingly professionalized
        -Envelope lickers, doorbell ringers, and sign holders are relics of a by-gone time.
-The Political Elite - the tiny percentage of the population that actively participates in
electoral politics.
    -Used to organize campaigns and fill the posts of party office from election district
captains to party chairpersons.
-"The Savior of the Week" syndrome - every campaign could rely on someone dropping by
the headquarters, willing to tell the staff just what was required to turn the campaign around because he/she was "in touch with the people".
-Polling has helped to eliminate much of the uncertainty about what people are thinking and
what is likely to motivate them  to vote.
-Today, there is less room for ad hoc campaign strategy and there are definite restraints on
unplanned expenditures.
-Case work was a function of local parties a long time ago
    -As local parties become less visible, that function has fallen more to elected officials who
typically hire a staff of one or two to  provide that service.
-Campaigns used to be far more labor-intensive operations
    -Many of the traditional tasks have been taken over by machines or professionals
-State legislative races have become more expensive and more dependent on the
sophisticated campaign technologies available.
-Politics appears to be becoming a more passive activity.
-Increased communication may mean that politics becomes more passive because so much
of the former activity had to do with reaching out to voters.
-The strength of the new party system rests on the capability of these new professionals to
make decisions about candidates and issues, and to reach out to the citizenry and make
those decisions known.
-What is required of party leadership is a reshifting of the power structure to emphasize
some things and move away from others.
    -This is one reason the parties move slowly.
        -It is not an organization with easy measures for success or failure.
-Elections can be won and lost for many reasons
    -Most of them having to do with the personalities of the candidates and the specific
choices voters make between candidates.
-Part of leadership is bringing about change, and part of it is raising our expectations.
-Similarities between the new activist in both parties
    -They are more professional.
    -They think of themselves as being more pragmatic.
    -They tend to be more inclusive in their decision-making style than exclusive or elitist.
-It is our view that the voters will not become strong partisans until imaginative leadership
binds their hopes to the structure.
    -Intensity of today's politics of morality and frustration may be part of that process.
-Parties go on partly because the political system depends on them.
-The parties have changed because the old structures no longer worked and a new
generation fought for and won the mantle of leadership.

Harrison Salisbury-A Time of Change [Discontinued]
Tiffany Holley, 2002

-Thought there was not much difference between Kennedy's and Nixon's ideologies, but not true
        -Nixon was shabby in character but had a better grasp of the world
        -Kennedy had style, but he was lazy
-Essence of journalism was reporting and writing
        -Wanted to find things out-particularly things which no one else had managed to dig out
-Dallas had seemed like another country, ranting against everybody.
-Said in the year 2000 the Kennedy assassination would still be a matter of debate.
-For a man so noble the cause of death must lie in high conspiracy.
-To this day not one material fact has been added to the New York Times account of the assassination and the events that followed it.

Democratic convention
-Everything was set for the convention to rise and sweep LBJ into the nomination but nothing went according to plan.
        -The secret service couldn't guarantee his safety so he was confined to his Texas ranch.
-At the Conrad Hilton, police beat and hounded young people from Lincoln park down to Grant park opposite the Hilton.
-"The police have charged on a lot of innocent people and driven them through the glass window in the Hilton cocktail lounge, following them in and are beating them."

68: EJ Dionne, "They Only Look Dead" [Discontinued]
Tiffany Holley, 2002

-"Anxious Middle"- Dionne's description of the critical segment of voters who determine the
outcome of American elections.
    -Less interested in ideological purity than in finding solutions that are practical and
-Election of 1992 was a Republican debacle. It seemed to herald a new wave of government
activism and the end of a conservative era.
    -Suggested potential Democratic strength everywhere in the country.
-Election of 1994 was a Democratic disaster. It was widely interpreted as marking the
resurrection of conservatism and perhaps more: the birth of a more hard-edged,
anti-government political alignment with commitments going well beyond the soothing
verities of Ronald Reagan's American morning.
    -Suggested that 1992 was an aberration, that the steady march of Republicanism through
the states of the Old Confederacy and the Rocky Mountains would continue and affect every level of government.
-Anxious Middle- group that holds the future of American politics in its hands.
    -Destroyed a Republican presidential coalition that had seemed invulnerable only a few
years earlier.
    -Made Ross Perot possible, ended George Bush's political career, sent Bill Clinton to the
White House- and then rebuked
     Clinton and helped make Newt Gingrich one of the central figures of American politics.
    -First found its power in 1992- reducing Republican presidents share of the vote to a little
more than a 3rd and giving Democrats
     full control of the elected part of the federal gov't for the 1st time in 12 years.
-The core political problem Clinton sought to solve was the defection of white voters of
moderate incomes from Democratic ranks.
-The House Republicans' "Contract with America"
    -Aimed at putting together the pieces of a Republican majority while also giving the party
a platform from which to govern.
    -Contained Reagan's overall anti-government, anti-tax message with Perot's anti-system,
anti-Congress appeal and Bennett's call for a revival of traditional morality.
-"Common Sense Legal Reforms Act- a series of measures directed against lawyers and
designed to reduce the number of lawsuits.
-In a sense, both the 1992 Clinton program and the 1994 Republican program were aimed at
the same broad group of voters- those who were unhappy about the performance of the
government, doubtful that the government operated in their interest and concerned that the
country was in moral decline.
-The Anxious Middle is considered "middle" because:
    -It lacks the rigid definition usually associated with the words "left" and "right",  "liberal"
and "conservative"
    -Its longings are not utopian.
    -Tends to be quite moderate or pragmatic on the issues that excite liberals and
    -Its neither repressive nor permissive on questions of morality and church.
-The Anxious Middle does not expect a world without sin, pain, conflict, or injustice.
    -It looks to greater fairness, a modicum of job security, a sense that hard work will be
rewarded, and that violent crime will be punished.