THE PARTY'S OVER: The Failure of Politics in America by David S. Broder

THE PARTY'S OVER: The Failure of Politics in America

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Broder, a Washington-based political reporter, successfully animates the textbookish concept of ""responsible party government"" in what is otherwise a somewhat lightweight jeremiad. He poses the problem, charts its etiology through the '50's and '60's, and thrashes earnestly for solutions. When voters' party allegiances erode, an overblown faith in the presidency arises; the two-party system may give way to electoral chaos; public support for long-term undertakings cannot be built; and polarization mounts. Eisenhower separated his leadership from his party's accountability and Johnson's consensus politics sought to extend an umbrella rather than use his mandate for ""responsible partisanship."" Nixon, who like JFK struggled with his own party, most closely fits Broder's idea of a strategic leader and properly partisan chief. A big portion of the book is devoted to describing ""paralysis of government,"" urban crisis, fiscal collapse, and public disaffection with politics, and Broder rightly points to the dangers of a Bonapartist resolution. However, he fails to probe the causes or the reasons why business-as-usual and back-scratching party politics have failed to sustain themselves or respond to social needs. Instead he points to Rockefeller's regime as a model of responsible party government, but without asking why lately its policies have soured. The possibilities of a big-business G.O.P. coalition with blacks and youth, or a neo-New Deal populist coalition, are briefly and critically noted. It is a pessimistic book, liberal in its sympathies, conservative in its temper, and the reader will feel that things really must be bad if an observer like Broder says so. His last, and cheerier, book was The Republican Establishment with Stephen Hess (1967).

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row