Political observers have declared the present a shocking disruption from the past. At the same time, the events of the pre-polarization era are becoming distant history to many of those same observers. Post-2016 politics may be different, but is it different in the way we think? Byron Shafer’s latest aims to provide the material to give an answer.In The American Political Pattern, Shafer divides the period from the Great Depression to the present into four eras. In each era, the arrangement of three key features of the party coalitions create a political structure that determines a fourth feature – the nature of the policy-making process.Shafer’s ultimate thesis is that the variation in this structure has generally been overlooked, to the detriment of political scientists and reformers alike. Attempts to correct apparent problems that do not acknowledge a shifting structure may be suited to one era but not another.Shafer’s three key features are all qualities of the arrangement of coalition partners in the party system. First, the party balance, or how large do the coalition members make each party? Second, ideological polarization, or how far apart are the coalition members? And third, substantive conflict, or what are the issues over
The Forum – de Gruyter
Published: Mar 5, 2018
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