Political Behavior, Vol. 24, No. 2, June 2002 ( 2002)
PARTIES AND PARTISANSHIP:
A Brief Introduction
John G. Geer
The controversies surrounding the 2000 presidential election were driven
by three forces—partisanship, partisanship, and partisanship (and in that or-
der). People who felt that the recount should be stopped in Florida were
almost always Republicans, while Democrats thought it was only “fair” that
the recount proceed. The reactions and interpretations of the vote in Florida
were molded and shaped by one’s partisanship. The influence of this force
could be seen in all aspects of our political process, including the legal system.
The Supreme Courts of Florida and the United States both showed their
partisan stripes. The many battles that followed the closest election in modern
times underscored the importance of partisanship and certainly provide the
justification for closer inspection of this important political force.
Of course, the horrible events of 9-11 made the memories of the 2000
presidential election seemed part of the distant past. Following the events of
that horrific day, there was, in effect, a suspension of partisan feelings.
every Republican rallied to the side of President Bush, as one might expect.
But so did Democrats and in record numbers—over 80% of Democrats ap-
proved of Bush’s handling of U.S.’s response to the terrorist attacks.
crats in Congress also offered their strong support to the president, avoiding
any hint of criticism. It appears that in the shadow of the wreckage from New
York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., people were less likely to think of
themselves as Democrats or Republicans. Instead, we all were Americans. The
upsurge in displays of the American flag on our cars and our homes under-
scored this shift. This wave of national unity helped President Bush chart a
quick and powerful response to these terrorist attacks.
At first, some observers thought that the tragic events of that September
John G. Geer, CSDP, Princeton University, 313 Robertson Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544 (jgeer@
0190-9320/02/0600-0085/0 2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation