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The Roots of the Polarization of Modern U.S. Politics

53 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2008  

Keith T. Poole

University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: September 8, 2008

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Political Parties, Polarization

Suggested Citation

Poole, Keith T., The Roots of the Polarization of Modern U.S. Politics (September 8, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1276025 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1276025

Keith Poole (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Baldwin Hall
Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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