ps paper 2 polarization

ps paper 2 polarization - Jose Revuelta December 6th, 2007...

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Jose Revuelta December 6 th , 2007 TA: L. Cordero PS 40 Polarizing Political Parties Prior to 1964, political parties tended to nominate candidates who did not represent clear ideological alternatives, but after 1964, “ideologically motivated activists” gained control of nominations. This led to Republican nominees to share similar conservative views in every region of the country and Democratic nominees to be more liberal in political mind views. The critical realignment in presidential elections between 1964 and 1972 left ideologically polarized parties at a national level. But this polarization between the two major parties is still evident today in American politics, but why? One theory touches upon parties growing farther apart to create distance between congress and the presidency and to create more detailed legislation, so as to create more accountability for the other party. Public opinion may also play a part in the manner which political parties identify with the voter’s views, since members of Congress have to take the constituency into consideration, so as to ensure a high chance of reelection. Lastly, polarization split apart parties further apart at the same time new social issues began to solidify the rift. With these issues in mind, a test(s) will be conducted to find out which theory has the most merit in terms of soundness. Parties have grown quite diverse and there is evidence of it in some of their legislative behavior. One change can be seen in the number of party votes taken from 1955-2004. Party votes are roll call votes with at least 50 percent of members of one party taking a position opposed by at least 50 percent of the members of the other party. At first, polarization created an increase in party votes after the sharp decline in the late 60’s. The increase began around the
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mid-1970’s which is attributed with the distrust of President Nixon due to the Watergate scandal and his handling of the Vietnam War. But exactly after 1995 -- around the time of government shutdown – there was policy stasis due to President Clinton vetoing Republican-passed spending bills. Republican Congress was able to differentiate themselves from the president and knew that no blame would come their way since one cannot expect the Republicans to be a governing instrument. That is why they were able to retain their hold in both houses for Clinton’s second term. Although a strong opposition party will “act as the critic of the party in power…” there is the danger that the public will shift “excessive responsibility to the President.” So the excessive
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ps paper 2 polarization - Jose Revuelta December 6th, 2007...

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