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Parties, Pluralism and the “Crisis” in American Representation

  • Craig ParsonsEmail author
  • Till Weber
Original Article
  • 6 Downloads

Abstract

In many ways, Donald Trump’s presidency seems to mark the culmination of a long-developing crisis in American representation. In preceding decades Americans complained that their two major parties were increasingly stifling as many societal concerns as they voiced. Then Trump blew the previous lines of party competition apart and disrupted much of the political landscape. Yet if Trump has certainly introduced an atmosphere of crisis, we argue that much of his rise reflects predictable features of electoral democracy rather than a breakdown in its normal dynamics. We should expect democracies to confront endemic problems of “muffling” (when parties silence or obfuscate cross-cutting issues) and “displacement” (when muffled conflicts break out to shift parties’ leadership selections, like in 2016). We set a qualitative account of the 2016 election against longer term data on American parties in comparative perspective to display these challenges.

Keywords

Pluralism Cleavages Representation Political parties Donald Trump 

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Copyright information

© Fudan University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Baruch CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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