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Gillespie - Politics on the Periphery (1993) - Synopsis

Gillespie - Politics on the Periphery (1993) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of J. David Gillespie, Politics at the Periphery: Third Parties in Two-Party America (Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1993). -- Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on March 28, 2011.
Synopsis of J. David Gillespie, Politics at the Periphery: Third Parties in Two-Party America (Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1993). -- Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on March 28, 2011.

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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CLIV: March 28, 2011, 7:00 p.m. J.

David Gillespie, Politics at the Periphery: Third Parties in Two-Party America (Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1993). [Thesis. A characteristically American "pragmatism" has dominated the political mainstream in the United States, but third parties of various sorts have played an important role by giving expression to other impulses—not that they have not also frequently been influenced by pragmatism.] Preface. The author has never been associated with any third party; he believes there have been too many "structural barriers" to their participation in American politics (vii). Politics on the Periphery is based on fifteen years of research, much of it firsthand (vii-viii). Debt to his wife, Judi, and to a scholarly colleague, Laura Woliver (viii-ix). Introduction. This book was written at a time of "partial atrophying" of the Republican and Democratic parties (1-4). The latter are thoroughly "pragmatic," whereas third parties are involved with "the politics of redemption," in Glenn Tinder's phrase (4-5). Ch. 1: On the Outside Looking In: Third Parties and the Political Mainstream. The Prohibition Party, which has existed since 1869 (6-9). V.O. Key distinguished between continuing doctrinal parties and short-lived parties, the latter usually a form of economic protest; there are also non-national significant other parties, like the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party (9-12). Dan Nimmo and Thomas D. Ungs define a political party as "a coalition of fairly stable, enduring, and frequently conflicting interests, organized to mobilize support in competitive elections in order to control policy making" (12). The Democratic and Republican parties, which are more like porous sponges than large umbrellas or big tents, can be classed as responsible parties (12-14). Definition: "A third party is an organized aggregate of leaders, members, and supporters that 1. designates itself a party, 2. articulates perceived interests of its devotees, 3. presses these interests upon or in contradistinction to the American political and party systems using electoral and/or other political methods, and 4. either never attains or is unable to sustain the primary or the secondary share of loyalties of people making up the national body politic" (15). American party organization is much less centralized than in European democracies (15-16). Popular devotion to parties is weakening in the U.S. (1617). Single-party monopoly is "nearly impossible" in the American political system; third parties do not play a major role in the national government (17-19). A utilitarian analysis of third parties, from the points of view of individuals and of society (19-25). Constraints on third parties include the cultural consensus in the U.S. on core values (liberty, individualism, equal rights) and structural constraints (single-member plurality elections, electoral college, legal financial disadvantages, ballot access) (25-36). Though conditions are improving for third parties, the difficulties they face are still imposing (36-37). Notes (37-40). Ch. 2: Brightly Blazing Candles: Transient National Third Parties in the Nineteenth Century. Some were secessionist parties, others began independently (41-46). The 19th century was a golden age for third parties (4647). The Antimasonic party (47-50). The abolitionist Liberty Party (50-51). The Free Soil party rallied around the Wilmot Proviso (51-52). The nativist American [Know Nothing] Party (52-56). The

Constitutional Union party (56-58). The Southern Democratic party (58-60). The Liberal Republican party (60-62). PostCivil War socialist parties (63-64). The National (Greenback) party (64-67). Many ideas of the People's (Populist) party were co-opted (67-68 & 71-77). Inset: Radical agrarianism is the historical soil out of which Southern conservatism has grown (69-71). Notes (77-79). Ch. 3: Candles in the Wind: Transient National Third Parties in the Twentieth Century. There have been fewer important third parties in the 20th century (80-82). The claim that progressivism was "the Wisconsin idea" is a bit overstated (83-84). Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive (Bull Moose) party (85-87). Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette (87-90). The Union Party (1936) (90-91). In 1948, the Progressive party on the left and the States' Rights Democratic party (Dixiecrats) on the right (92-103). The Peace and Freedom party (103-07). George Wallace's American Independent party (107-22). John Anderson's National Unity campaign (122-27). Barry Commoner's Citizens party (127-29). H. Ross Perot (129-37). Notes (137-39). Ch. 4: Not Whistling Dixie: Women, African-Americans, and the Third Party Course. Class-based politics (140-41). The National Organization of Women (141-43). The Equal Rights party (143-44). The National Woman's party (144, 148-53). Inset on Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917) (145-47). The National Black Independent Political party (153-54). The Mississippi Freedom Democratic party (154-55). The Civil Rights movement and black parties (15556). The Black Panther party (156-64). The New Alliance party (164-68). Notes (168-70). Ch. 5: Sustained by Faith: Doctrinal Parties. Doctrinal parties and their true

believers (171-74). The Libertarian party (174-78). The Socialist Labor party of Daniel De Leon (179-83). Eugene Debs's Socialist party (183-91). The Communist Party of the USA (191-99). The Socialist Workers party (199-201). Trotskyist parties (201-02). Maoist parties (20203). The Progressive Labor party (20304). The Revolutionary Communist party (204-05). The Communist Workers party, which in 1985 became the New Democratic Movement (171-73 & 20506). The white supremacist radical right (206-07). The National States' Rights party (208). George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi party (208-10). The National Socialist White People's party (210-17). The National Socialist Party of America (217-18). The new Populist party (218-20). The same doctrines that sustain these parties isolate them from mainstream politics, but when they reach a certain size they tempt mainstream parties to try to co-opt them (220-22). Notes (222-25). Ch. 6: Non-National Significant Others: Important State and Community Parties. Bernie Sanders and the Progressive Coalition of Burlington, VT (226-30). Similar parties of limited geographical scope (230-32). The 19th century produced many (23238). Dominance of the two-party system in the 20th century (233-34, 239). Sources of strength in the upper Great Plains and Wisconsin (239-42). North Dakota's Nonpartisan League (242-44). Minnesota's Farmer-Labor party (which merged with the Democratic party in 1944) elected senators, representatives, and governors (244-52). Wisconsin's Progressive party (Robert La Follette and his two sons, Robert Jr. and Philip)(25255). NY allows cross-endorsement of candidates (only CT and VT do the same), which produces fusion candidacies that give third parties leverage (255-60). In this category, single-state third parties have been the most enduring, and Burlington's

Progressives have "fashioned for their city America's only true three-party system today" (260-62). Gillespie would like to see wider adoption of the crossendorsement laws (262-63). Notes (26366). Ch. 7: What Manner of Men and Women? Beliefs and Personalities of Third-Party Leaders. Ideas are probably less and leaders more motivating than once thought (267-68). In a 1982 study, Gillespie identified a "Leftist/Libertarian Belief System," a "Nazi Belief System," and a "Conservative Belief System" (268-76). Political agitators (rather than administrators—Harold Lasswell's distinction) are especially attracted to left/libertarian and Nazi third parties (276-80). Beliefs of left/libertarians are not far from the mainstream: "The key political problem for many leftist/libertarians is not that they reject mainstream values; it is that they embrace some of them too radically" (281). Notes (281-82). Ch. 8: Looking Back, Looking Ahead: The Third-Party Legacy and the Future. As Ross Perot, the Greens, and others show, third-party impulses are "alive and kicking" (285; 283-88). Notes (288-89). Appendix 1: Returns from November 3, 1992, Presidential Election (29192). Appendix 2: Addresses of Third Parties (293-94). Appendix 3: Third-Party and Independent Candidacies Receiving

at Least One Percent of Popular Vote for President (295-97). Appendix 4: Third-Party Presence (Excluding Independents) in U.S. Congress (298-301). Appendix 5: Third-Party and Independent Gubernatorial Popular Elections (302-05). Appendix 6: Study Statements and Factor Scores (306-10). Glossary. 46 terms (311-15). Suggestions for Further Reading. 93 books. Index of Parties, Associations, and People. 12 pp. About the Author. J. David Gillespie is a retired professor of political science who taught for 27 years at Presbyterian College; his 1964 B.A. and 1967 M.A. are from Wake Forest university, and his 1973 Ph.D. is from Kent State. [Additional information. J. David Gillespie is also the author of Challengers to Duopoly: Why Third Parties Matter in American Two-Party Politics (2011). Now semi-retired, he consults and teaches part-time at The Citadel and College of Charleston.] [Critique. Politics on the Periphery is a sprightly textbook with a common-sense approach that takes an encyclopedic approach to American third parties that yields no startling aperçus but that covers the ground in a workmanlike manner.]

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