The Problem of Hollow Parties: A Framework

Daniel Schlozman, Johns Hopkins University
Sam Rosenfeld, Colgate University

This paper places a series of American partisan visions, from the Jacksonians to the New Right, in a common framework. It examines systematically how different partisan actors have answered common questions around the role and function of the political party inside a system of racialized capitalism. Partisan change, we argue, cannot be understood simply in terms of the relationship between mass electoral change and the response of majority-seeking teams of politicians or groups. Instead, we treat parties as instruments for particular actors to fulfill their projects to wield state power. The paper first develops this framework, then applies it to eleven visions of party from Martin Van Buren’s Democracy through Radical Republicanism, Gilded Age organizations, the Progressives, midcentury programmatic liberals, and the Long New Right that decisively broke the traditional concepts of party.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 144. Theoretical Perspectives on Political Parties