Moris P. Fiona and his colleagues challenge the oft repeated idea that the U.S, is mired in a
culture war. they disagree on abortion, gay marriage..
They argue that there is a deep division in U.S politics BUT not among the electorate or the
There are divisions among political activists, officeholders, and elites.
They conclude that deepening conditions within the political elite have been driven by: 1) the
ascendance of purists, 2) the expansion of government 3)the opening up of government.
America is not polarized public opinion has grown more centrist on issues and more tolerant
of the divergent views, values and behavior of other Americans.
However religion has become a more important electoral cleavage in recent years
These views /lies are inconsistent as there is a growing polarization of the political class the
The change of values and views of both demo and republicans. Demos= environmental, civil
rights, pro-choice, gay lesbian, and gun control groups
Therefore, issue activists largely define the party images today.
Republicans: pro-life, traditional values, anti-tax, and pro gun groups
They changed views because: 1) the rise of material incentives for political participation 2)
conflict of interest laws- made it hard to reward ones friend and punish ones enemy than a
generation ago. 3) the increase importance of money in modern campaigns poor people dont
contribute, in order to get elected demos had to move upscale and target middle class issues and
activists in order to get elected.
Expansion of the Government:
Entered into spheres of life previously considered private. Before managers denying blacks
for jobs was a highly contested notion, free smoking environments and developers could not fill
in swaps because of the salamanders. = entered private life.
The biggest change was in the transformation of the presidential nominating process. In 1960
kennedy was nominated by demo party professionals.
Goldwater was nominated by purists and McGowen was nominated by opposing purist who
captures the demo party. Was a move from party centered elections towards candidate-centered
Problems: people who care deeply also tend to have extreme views on issues they care about =
intensity and extremity. Also, extremist march, campaign, give money and push their views more
strongly then moderates.
www.notesolution.com Most people want: secure country, healthy economy, safe neighborhood, good schools BUT
they do not get discussed and extremist who push for their issues are mostly about abortion, gun
laws, marijuana. = This does not motivate the majority of the Americans.
*A political order that debates policy proposals more extreme than necessary to address
societal issues and community problems, a political order that spends inordinate amounts of time
debating policy issues that most citizens do not view as among the most important issues,
political order dominated by a political class whos behaviors and operating style would be
unacceptable outside of politics
A nation divided on issues of abortion, gay marriage and school prayer
A culture war.
Democrats: The Democratic Party is viewed as the party
of labor, favoring economic redistribution via higher taxes, social welfare spending and
Republicans: business and upper-income voters, who favor lower taxes, less
Government spending and minimal economic regulation
Moral issues such as abortion and gay marriages dominate economic self interest. This means
low income families will vote for republicans even the demos serve their needs better because
of moral convictions.
1) voters are polarized over moral issues: ex religious affiliation
2) moral issues have more salience or weight on voters then economic issues
3) Red and blue cartography: red voters vote on moral issues without regard for their
economic issues or preferences
*how the electoral divides on moral issues*
Americans are not polarized on economic issues - these issues follow more of a bell curve
January 20 : th
Aldrich. Why parties form
in previous articles and scholars views, parties formed because 1) Madison and
jeffereson opposed hamiltons fiscal policies and needed help in congress to block them, thus
they organized opposition in congres which eventually became the Jeffersonian republican
party. 2) As a result, Hamiliton organized his Federalist supported to defeat them. = Both
organize supporters= parties
Aldrichs view: parties were formed because politicians realized that a stable coherent
party apparatus would help them win more consistently.
Political parties form because they enhance the electoral prospects of politicians and
allow them to win more regularly and to govern longer.
Collective action problem within the government: The problem of collective policymaking.
parties in government consist of officeholders who have preferences. Thereofore, parties
form because it is a convenient coalition
www.notesolution.com shared preferences are important bases of political parties.
Collective action is a public good not a private good. this means that one persons use
of a public good ex lighthouse, is often impossible to avoid from consuming it. A
lighthouse: jointness of supply.. if one persons uses the light, it doesnt take away from
someone else using the same light.
However, national defence is nonexcludable: if it protects one family, it is impossible for
it to protect their neighbours as well.
Collective action: governments all but invariably act collectively, such as voting to select
reps or to pass legislation.
Another problem with collective action is that both parties or players can say that they
agree on something, but actually go against it, making one player look like the sucker to
create an effective agreement is required to make a binding commitment.
Social choice problems within the government
Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States
A Tocqueville - 1835
Tocqueville is worried about majority rule and its potential abuse in the American democratic
The equality among all citizens discourages dissent and freedom of thought. Opinions other
than that of the majority are scrutinized.
Society is constructed by the will of the majority.
To gain political power, it must be gained from the ruling majority. Therefore, conformity to
the liking of the majority is necessary - therefore change is nearly impossible.
Argument: American officials are mainly elected directly and for brief terms. However, for the
power of the majority to be considered legitimate, it requires the sanction of time, which the
American political system does not provide.
Argument: When there are several large factions, the will of the majority may not be in
actuality the will of the people as a whole. Yet the majority still holds power above all. The
influences of the majority are evident in all different levels of government, which leads
Tocqueville to compare the power of the majority to that of a monarchy in Europe.
Due to this, Tocqueville asks when a party is wronged in the US, to whom can he apply for
redress? He is criticizing the lack of support given to the minority in being able to gain
considerable ground over the majority.
The public force consists of the majority under arms, explains the vast influence of the
Weakness: Tocqueville criticizes the level of power held by the executive branch as being
subjected to the caprices of the legislature and took away any potential influence that the
flexibility of the executive branch is supposed to allow. The article was written in 1835, and
www.notesolution.com since then, and especially since the new deal, it can be argued that the power of the executive
branch has greatly increased - at some points dramatically.
The Myth of the Vanishing Voter
McDonald and Popkin attempt to nullify claims of the decrease in voter turnout since the end
of the second World War and 1972 especially. They achieve this by arguing against current
standards which are used to measure voter turnout.
The authors are arguing against claims that even after the notable increase in education, the
removal of Jim Crow laws and less restrictive registration, turnout rates still dropped.
The authors also argue that the number of ineligible voters is increasing faster than the number
of eligible voters, thus giving rise to the perception that voter turnout is decreasing.
The VAP is criticized heavily in the article. The authors claim that the VAP (Voter-Age
Population) includes ineligible and excludes some eligible voters from the calculation. The VAP
includes non citizens, disenfranchised felons, mental incompetents, and people who do not meet
residency requirements, none of whom are eligible to vote. Furthermore, the VAP excludes
Americans outside of America and US military personnel.
To counter this, they produce the VEP (Voter Eligible Population). The authors created the
VEP by adjusting the VAP numbers using census data from the gove