In Defense of the American Party System

  • Edward C. Banfield


The American party system has been criticized on four main grounds: (1) the parties do not offer the electorate a choice in terms of fundamental principles; their platforms are very similar and mean next to nothing; (2)they cannot discipline those whom they elect, and therefore they cannot carry their platforms into effect; (3) they are held together and motivated less by political principle than by desire for personal, often material, gain, and by sectional and ethnic loyalties; consequently party politics is personal and parochial; and (4) their structure is such that they cannot correctly represent the opinion of the electorate; in much of the country there is in effect only one party, and everywhere large contrib-utors and special interests exercise undue influence within the party.1


Political Party Common Good Party System Party Leader Party Organization 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward C. Banfield
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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