The Roots of the Polarization of Modern U.S. Politics
Keith T. Poole
University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs
September 8, 2008
The elites of the United States are deeply polarized. Polarization of the Democratic and Republican Parties is higher than at any time since the late 19th Century. How could this be true given the obvious economic success of the United States? This essay describes how the modern polarization trend emerged.
To understand the historical forces producing modern polarization it is necessary to understand the British colonial origins of the U. S. political-economic system. Representative democracy, plurality elections, geographic-based representation (the tradition of the representative living with those he represented), and private property rights were established from the beginning of the British colonies and shaped everything that was to follow. How these factors shaped the evolution of political parties over time gives us insight into why the current party system is so polarized and why there may be no simple solution to the serious polarization of the elites in the United States.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53
Keywords: Political Parties, Polarizationworking papers series
Date posted: October 6, 2008
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