HISTORY IN SHERMAN PARK: An American Family During the Reagan-Mondale Election by Jonathan Schell

HISTORY IN SHERMAN PARK: An American Family During the Reagan-Mondale Election

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Schell, author of the influential, big-picture The Fate of the Earth, here flips the telescope to focus on a tiny corner of the political landscape, a single family and their immediate Milwaukee, Wisc., contacts during the 1984 Reagan-Mondale election. In 1984, Schell devoted time to interviewing a young Milwaukee couple living in the heart of a traditionally blue-collar, Democrat neighborhood to find out what large group polls couldn't reveal--how the American political process is received by and affects a small circle of voters. Gina and Bill Gapolinsky voted in the '84 election, but despite the blitz of campaigning and media coverage, politics wasn't of central interest to them. Bill voted Republican in response to his perception of Reagan as representative of an ""optimistic"" platform; Gina voted Democrat on the grounds that Mondale reflected fair-mindedness. But their conversations about the election seldom turned on specific issues of foreign policy or the economy. More important, neither member of the family, and few of their relatives and friends, voted along traditional party lines long established in the community, but instead largely responded to the candidates themselves and to the variety of images each projected. Though Schell is hesitant to generalize from a small sample, his trip to Milwaukee in '84 led him to see signs of political de-alignment: a drift away from traditional party-based voting. Citing statistics that show an increase in the overall non-voting population, Schell now wonders if the drift away from party politics isn't so much a sign of de-alignment as a deeper process of de-politicization. Required reading, then, for anyone concerned about the present and future of our electoral process.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1987
Publisher: Knopf