For a century at least, parties have been central to the study of politics. Yet their typical conceptual reduction to a network of power-seeking elites has left many to wonder why parties were ever thought crucial to democracy. This book seeks to retrieve a richer conception of partisanship,drawing on modern political thought and extending it in the light of contemporary democratic theory and practice. Looking beyond the party as organization, the book develops an original account of what it is to be a partisan. It examines the ideas, orientations, obligations, and practicesconstitutive of partisanship properly understood, and how these intersect with the core features of democratic life. Such an account serves to underline in distinctive fashion why democracy needs its partisans, and puts in relief some of the key trends of contemporary politics.