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Throughout the contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, politicians and voters alike worried that the outcome might depend on the preferences of unelected superdelegates. This concern threw into relief the prevailing notion that—such unusually competitive cases notwithstanding—people, rather than parties, should and do control presidential nominations. But for the past several decades, The Party Decides shows, unelected insiders in both major parties have effectively selected candidates long before citizens reached the ballot box. Tracing the evolution of presidential nominations since the 1790s, this volume demonstrates how party insiders have sought since America’s founding to control nominations as a means of getting what they want from government. Contrary to the common view that the party reforms of the 1970s gave voters more power, the authors contend that the most consequential contests remain the candidates’ fights for prominent endorsements and the support of various interest groups and state party leaders. These invisible primaries produce frontrunners long before most voters start paying attention, profoundly influencing final election outcomes and investing parties with far more nominating power than is generally recognized.
Throughout the contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, politicians and voters alike worried that the outcome might depend on the preferences of unelected superdelegates. This concern threw into relief the prevailing notion that—such unusually competitive cases notwithstanding—people, rather than parties, should and do control presidential nominations. But for the past several decades, The Party Decides shows, unelected insiders in both major parties have effectively selected candidates long before citizens reached the ballot box. Tracing the evolution of presidential nominations since the 1790s, this volume demonstrates how party insiders have sought since America’s founding to control nominations as a means of getting what they want from government. Contrary to the common view that the party reforms of the 1970s gave voters more power, the authors contend that the most consequential contests remain the candidates’ fights for prominent endorsements and the support of various interest groups and state party leaders. These invisible primaries produce frontrunners long before most voters start paying attention, profoundly influencing final election outcomes and investing parties with far more nominating power than is generally recognized.
Seth Masket's The Inevitable Party is a study of anti-party reforms and why they fail. Numerous reform movements over the past century have designated parties as the enemy of democracy, and they have found a willing ally in the American people in their efforts to rein in and occasionally root out parties. Masket investigates several of these anti-party reform efforts - from open primaries to campaign finance restrictions to nonpartisan legislatures - using legislative roll call votes, campaign donations patterns, and extensive interviews with local political elites. These cases each demonstrate parties adapting to, and sometimes thriving amidst, reforms designed to weaken or destroy them. The reason for these reforms' failures, the book argues, is that they proceed from an incorrect conception of just what a party is. Parties are not rigid structures that can be wished or legislated away; they are networks of creative and adaptive policy demanders who use their influence to determine just what sorts of people get nominated for office. Even while these reforms tend to fail, however, they impose considerable costs on society, usually reducing transparency and accountability in politics and government.
Newton Minow’s long engagement with the world of television began nearly fifty years ago when President Kennedy appointed him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. As its head, Minow would famously dub TV a “vast wasteland,” thus inaugurating a career dedicated to reforming television to better serve the public interest. Since then, he has been chairman of PBS and on the board of CBS and elsewhere, but his most lasting contribution remains his leadership on televised presidential debates. He was assistant counsel to Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson when Stevenson first proposed the idea of the debates in 1960; he served as cochair of the presidential debates in 1976 and 1980; and he helped create and is currently vice chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized the debates for the last two decades. Written with longtime collaborator Craig LaMay, this fascinating history offers readers for the first time a genuinely inside look into the origins of the presidential debates and the many battles—both legal and personal—that have determined who has been allowed to debate and under what circumstances. The authors do not dismiss the criticism of the presidential debates in recent years but do come down solidly in favor of them, arguing that they are one of the great accomplishments of modern American electoral politics. As they remind us, the debates were once unique in the democratic world, are now emulated across the globe, and they offer the public the only real chance to see the candidates speak in direct response to one another in a discussion of major social, economic, and foreign policy issues. Looking to the challenges posed by third-party candidates and the emergence of new media such as YouTube, Minow and LaMay ultimately make recommendations for the future, calling for the debates to become less formal, with candidates allowed to question each other and citizens allowed to question candidates directly. They also explore the many ways in which the Internet might serve to broaden the debates’ appeal and informative power. Whether it’s Clinton or Obama vs. McCain, Inside the Presidential Debates will be welcomed in 2008 by anyone interested in where this crucial part of our democracy is headed—and how it got there.
Is American politics "ideological," or relatively consensual? Do the American parties differ from one another and, if so, how? Party Ideologies in America, 1828-1996 is a synthetic history and analysis of the ideologies of the major American parties from the early nineteenth century to the present. It is the only book currently in print that attempts such a broad treatment of the subject and that is empirically grounded.
Since the original edition of Dynamics of the Party System was published in 1973, American politics have continued on a tumultuous course. In the vacuum left by the decline of the Democratic and Republican parties, single-interest groups have risen and flourished. Protest movements on the left and the New Right at the opposite pole have challenged and divided the major parties, and the Reagan Revolution--in reversing a fifty-year trend toward governmental expansion--may turn out to have revolutionized the party system too. In this edition, as in the first, current political trends and events are placed in a historical and theoretical context. Focusing upon three major realignments of the past--those of the 1850s, the 1890s, and the 1930s--Sundquist traces the processes by which basic transformations of the country's two-party system occur. From the historical case studies, he fashions a theory as to the why and how of party realignment, then applies it to current and recent developments, through the first two years of the Reagan presidency and the midterm election of 1982. The theoretical sections of the first edition are refined in this one, the historical sections are revised to take account of recent scholarship, and the chapters dealing with the postwar period are almost wholly rewritten. The conclusion of the original work is, in general, confirmed: the existing party system is likely to be strengthened as public attention is again riveted on domestic economic issues, and the headlong trend of recent decades toward political independence and party disintegration reversed, at least for a time.
Xander planned a panda party. Yes, a dandy whoop-de-do! But Xander was the only panda. Just one panda at the zoo. The zoo’s paucity of pandas doesn’t impede Xander’s party planning for long. He decides to invite all the bears. But Koala protests. She’s not a bear—she's a marsupial! Does that mean she can’t come? Xander rethinks his decision to invite only bears, and “Calling all bears” evolves into “Calling all creatures.” The Newbery Medal author Linda Sue Park introduces animal taxonomy in a wonderfully engaging way, and the celebrated artist Matt Phelan’s charming ink and watercolor paintings are the icing on the cake. A read-aloud whoop-de-do!

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