American Politics: A Very Short Introduction

Paperback | March 1, 2013

byRichard M. Valelly

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This book introduces the vital elements of American politics, emphasizing how these elements have evolved into the form they take today. By using a historical-institutional approach to the various parts of American politics, Valelly communicates that the American political system is, andalways has been, a work in progress - one unfolding within, and also constantly updating, an eighteenth-century constitutional framework. Valelly begins by asking what Americans want from their politics and answers with a four-part analysis: (1) the politics of "peace and prosperity," (2) the sometimes illiberal politics of conformity and Americanization, (3) the politics of large-scale problem-solving (e.g., the abolition of slavery)and "perfection of the Union," and (4) the deep public desire for constitutional continuity. The last item provides the organizational framework/theme for the rest of the book. Additional chapters treat parties and polarization (stressing that contemporary polarization reinforces constitutional persistence because it provides for a mix of policy immobility and power-sharing between parties that bitterly disagree); a survey of the basic institutions: the Presidency,Congress, the judicial branch, the unelected bureaucracy of the independent agencies, and state and local governments. A third group of chapters deals with political communication, public opinion, voting and the boundaries of the electorate, and the politics of government steering of the economy.Finally, Valelly considers the puzzle of the persistence for more than two centuries of the basic constitutional forms established in 1787. The author employs a mix of quantitative data and historical examples to illustrate the main themes.

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This book introduces the vital elements of American politics, emphasizing how these elements have evolved into the form they take today. By using a historical-institutional approach to the various parts of American politics, Valelly communicates that the American political system is, andalways has been, a work in progress - one unfoldi...

Richard M. Valelly is Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College. He is the author of, Radicalism in the States: The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and the American Political Economy (1989), and The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (2004)

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:144 pages, 6.88 × 4.38 × 0.68 inPublished:March 1, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195373855

ISBN - 13:9780195373851

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Table of Contents

List of illustrationsPreface1. Elements of American democracy2. The presidency3. Congress and its bicameralism4. The legislative-executive process5. The Supreme Court6. Bureaucracy7. Public opinion8. Political parties and democratic choices9. The partisan revival10. Political economyReferencesFurther readingIndex