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The Two Reconstructions

Author: Richard M. Valelly
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226845272
Size: 11.52 MB
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Winner of the 2005 J. David Greenstone Book Award from the Politics and History section of the American Political Science Association. Winner of the 2005 Ralph J. Bunche Award of the American Political Science Association Winner of the 2005 V.O. Key, Jr. Award of the Southern Political Science Association The Reconstruction era marked a huge political leap for African Americans, who rapidly went from the status of slaves to voters and officeholders. Yet this hard-won progress lasted only a few decades. Ultimately a "second reconstruction"—associated with the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act—became necessary. How did the first reconstruction fail so utterly, setting the stage for the complete disenfranchisement of Southern black voters, and why did the second succeed? These are among the questions Richard M. Valelly answers in this fascinating history. The fate of black enfranchisement, he argues, has been closely intertwined with the strengths and constraints of our political institutions. Valelly shows how effective biracial coalitions have been the key to success and incisively traces how and why political parties and the national courts either rewarded or discouraged the formation of coalitions. Revamping our understanding of American race relations, The Two Reconstructions brilliantly explains a puzzle that lies at the heart of America’s development as a political democracy.

American Politics A Very Short Introduction

Author: Richard M. Valelly
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199706077
Size: 68.40 MB
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American politics seems to grow more contentious and complicated by the day, and whether American democracy works well is hotly debated. Amidst all this roiling partisan argument and confusing claims and counterclaims, there has never been a greater need for an impartial primer on the basics of the American political system. This Very Short Introduction gives readers a concise, accessible, and sophisticated overview of the vital elements of American democracy, emphasizing both how these elements function, their historical origins, and how they have evolved into their present forms. Richard Valelly covers all facets of America's political system: the bicameral Congress and the place of the filibuster, the legislative-executive process, the role of the Supreme Court, political parties and democratic choice, bureaucracy, the partisan revival, and the political economy. He offers as well an original analysis of the evolution of the American presidency and a fascinating chapter on the effects of public polling on political decision-making and voter representation. Valelly shows that the American political system is, and always has been, very much a work in progress--unfolding within, and also constantly updating, an eighteenth-century constitutional framework. In a refreshingly balanced and judicious assessment, he explores the strengths of American democracy while candidly acknowledging both gaps in representation and the increasing income inequality have sparked protest and intense public discussion. Finally, Valelly considers the remarkable persistence, for more than two centuries, of the basic constitutional forms established in 1787, despite the dramatic social changes that have reshaped virtually all aspects of American life. For anyone wishing to understand the nuts and bolts of how our political system works--and sometimes fails to work--this Very Short Introduction is the very best place to start. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

American Marriage

Author: Priscilla Yamin
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812206649
Size: 27.81 MB
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As states across the country battle internally over same-sex marriage in the courts, in legislatures, and at the ballot box, activists and scholars grapple with its implications for the status of gays and lesbians and for the institution of marriage itself. Yet, the struggle over same-sex marriage is only the most recent political and public debate over marriage in the United States. What is at stake for those who want to restrict marriage and for those who seek to extend it? Why has the issue become such a national debate? These questions can be answered only by viewing marriage as a political institution as well as a religious and cultural one. In its political dimension, marriage circumscribes both the meaning and the concrete terms of citizenship. Marriage represents communal duty, moral education, and social and civic status. Yet, at the same time, it represents individual choice, contract, liberty, and independence from the state. According to Priscilla Yamin, these opposing but interrelated sets of characteristics generate a tension between a politics of obligations on the one hand and a politics of rights on the other. To analyze this interplay, American Marriage examines the status of ex-slaves at the close of the Civil War, immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century, civil rights and women's rights in the 1960s, and welfare recipients and gays and lesbians in the contemporary period. Yamin argues that at moments when extant political and social hierarchies become unstable, political actors turn to marriage either to stave off or to promote political and social changes. Some marriages are pushed as obligatory and necessary for the good of society, while others are contested or presented as dangerous and harmful. Thus political struggles over race, gender, economic inequality, and sexuality have been articulated at key moments through the language of marital obligations and rights. Seen this way, marriage is not outside the political realm but interlocked with it in mutual evolution.

The Freedom To Be Racist

Author: Erik Bleich
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199876452
Size: 11.73 MB
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We love freedom. We hate racism. But what do we do when these values collide? In this wide-ranging book, Erik Bleich explores policies that the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and other liberal democracies have implemented when forced to choose between preserving freedom and combating racism. Bleich's comparative historical approach reveals that while most countries have increased restrictions on racist speech, groups and actions since the end of World War II, this trend has resembled a slow creep more than a slippery slope. Each country has struggled to achieve a balance between protecting freedom and reducing racism, and the outcomes have been starkly different across time and place. Building on these observations, Bleich argues that we should pay close attention to the specific context and to the likely effects of any policy we implement, and that any response should be proportionate to the level of harm the racism inflicts. Ultimately, the best way for societies to preserve freedom while fighting racism is through processes of public deliberation that involve citizens in decisions that impact the core values of liberal democracies.

Princeton Readings In American Politics

Author: Richard M. Valelly
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691124728
Size: 78.36 MB
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Princeton Readings in American Politics offers an exciting and challenging new way to learn about American politics. It brings together political science that has stood the test of time and recent cutting-edge analyses to acquaint undergraduate and graduate students with the substantive, conceptual, and methodological foundations they need to make sense of American politics today. Princeton Readings in American Politics features writings by such eminent scholars as Larry M. Bartels, Robert Dahl, Martha Derthick, Howard Gillman, Jacob Hacker, Kay L. Schlozman, Deborah Stone, Marta Tienda, and Kent Weaver, among others. The book is organized in sections that cover the major American political institutions--the presidency, Congress, the courts--as well as core topics such as political parties, macroeconomic management, voting and elections, policymaking, public opinion, and federalism. Richard Valelly provides an insightful general introduction to political science as a vibrant form of inquiry, as well as a succinct, informative introduction to each reading. Rigorous yet accessible, Princeton Readings in American Politics can serve as a primary textbook or as a supplement to standard introductory texts. Offers an exciting new way to learn about American politics Features accessible scholarship by leading political scientists Covers all the major topics Serves as a primary textbook or supplementary reader for undergraduate and graduate students

Embracing Dissent

Author: Jeffrey S. Selinger
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812292588
Size: 78.45 MB
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While the American founders fully expected parties to form in a free society, they were far less certain that opposing parties would peacefully transfer power from one to another. Party formation presented a confounding problem for the new republic: party rivalries could not be prevented, but they might, nonetheless, catalyze civil disorder or fracture the union of the states. The status of political parties has come a long way in American society and politics, however, and today American democracy is inconceivable without them. How did party competition become a regular and "normal" feature of the American political landscape? Why did American political leaders, who viewed such rivalry as a harbinger of the new republic's destruction, come to terms with party opposition? Embracing Dissent tells this story of political transformation, making the case that the status of party gained ground as the notion that party competition might instigate class violence, secession, or civil war, receded. From the American founding and the appearance of the Jacksonian Democratic party, to Lincoln's management of party politics during the Civil War, Jeffrey S. Selinger presents a careful reconsideration of American political development. Embracing Dissent also provides historical perspective on today's polarized political condition. Too often, pundits exaggerate the significance of partisan differences and minimize the depth of political consensus that permeates American politics. Political observers casually use expressions like "party conflict," forgetting, as the famed political scientist Giovanni Sartori noted, that public consensus on fundamental legal and constitutional norms makes party competition "something less than conflict, as we endlessly if often too late rediscover whenever we are confronted with the reality of a people shooting at each other." Embracing Dissent reminds readers of the long history of Americans "shooting at each other," and describes the political events that disarmed them.

Building The Judiciary

Author: Justin Crowe
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691152934
Size: 31.99 MB
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How did the federal judiciary transcend early limitations to become a powerful institution of American governance? How did the Supreme Court move from political irrelevance to political centrality? Building the Judiciary uncovers the causes and consequences of judicial institution-building in the United States from the commencement of the new government in 1789 through the close of the twentieth century. Explaining why and how the federal judiciary became an independent, autonomous, and powerful political institution, Justin Crowe moves away from the notion that the judiciary is exceptional in the scheme of American politics, illustrating instead how it is subject to the same architectonic politics as other political institutions. Arguing that judicial institution-building is fundamentally based on a series of contested questions regarding institutional design and delegation, Crowe develops a theory to explain why political actors seek to build the judiciary and the conditions under which they are successful. He both demonstrates how the motivations of institution-builders ranged from substantive policy to partisan and electoral politics to judicial performance, and details how reform was often provoked by substantial changes in the political universe or transformational entrepreneurship by political leaders. Embedding case studies of landmark institution-building episodes within a contextual understanding of each era under consideration, Crowe presents a historically rich narrative that offers analytically grounded explanations for why judicial institution-building was pursued, how it was accomplished, and what--in the broader scheme of American constitutional democracy--it achieved.

Still A House Divided

Author: Desmond S. King
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400839769
Size: 44.29 MB
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Why have American policies failed to reduce the racial inequalities still pervasive throughout the nation? Has President Barack Obama defined new political approaches to race that might spur unity and progress? Still a House Divided examines the enduring divisions of American racial politics and how these conflicts have been shaped by distinct political alliances and their competing race policies. Combining deep historical knowledge with a detailed exploration of such issues as housing, employment, criminal justice, multiracial census categories, immigration, voting in majority-minority districts, and school vouchers, Desmond King and Rogers Smith assess the significance of President Obama's election to the White House and the prospects for achieving constructive racial policies for America's future. Offering a fresh perspective on the networks of governing institutions, political groups, and political actors that influence the structure of American racial politics, King and Smith identify three distinct periods of opposing racial policy coalitions in American history. The authors investigate how today's alliances pit color-blind and race-conscious approaches against one another, contributing to political polarization and distorted policymaking. Contending that President Obama has so far inadequately confronted partisan divisions over race, the authors call for all sides to recognize the need for a balance of policy measures if America is to ever cease being a nation divided. Presenting a powerful account of American political alliances and their contending racial agendas, Still a House Divided sheds light on a policy path vital to the country's future.