Political Economy of the US Party System: A Barrier to Social Change?

33 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2012

Date Written: April 18, 2008


Prior to the 2000 presidential election, many on the left maintained that the Democratic and Republican parties were two faces of the same capitalist entity, and as such failed to offer a meaningful choice to the voting public. This view led to considerable enthusiasm for the canpaign of the Green Party and its presidential candidate, Ralph Nader. That campaign was at least partly responsible for the accession of George W. Bush to the presidency in that year. Eight years of that presidency have now convinced many of these same leftists that there is a real choice to be made between the major parties, and that either an Obama or a Clinton administration will be significantly better than a McCain one; yet this hope for improvement is tempered by disappointment in the positions of all major Democratic presidential candidates on health care, the environment, global justice, and the military dominance of US foreign policy. The two major parties can be seen to offer a choice, but only between a vicious right and a waffling center. This paper will examine the roots of this unsatisfactory situation in the social foundations of the present party system. These foundations can best be understood by examining how they have changed since the system of the New Deal.

Suggested Citation

Berg, John C., Political Economy of the US Party System: A Barrier to Social Change? (April 18, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2042287 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2042287

John C. Berg (Contact Author)

Suffolk University ( email )

Boston, MA 02108
United States

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