The comedian Will Rogers famously joked: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Until relatively recently, neither Republicans nor Democrats were particularly organized. Instead, they were loose coalitions of politicians with very different ideologies. Sam Rosenfeld is an assistant professor at Colgate University. His recent book, “The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era,” describes how the parties changed. I asked him questions about the book and the recent resurgence of the Democratic left wing.
H.F.: Pundits and political scientists once complained that American political parties were too middle-of-the-road and thought that more polarization would be a good thing. Why?
S.R.: Those who made these complaints at mid-century were driven in part by their normative understanding of how democracy should work. The doctrine of Responsible Party Government led them to criticize bipartisan policymaking and the lack of political polarization. They saw this as blurring accountability, since it robbed voters of the ability to hold identifiable politicians responsible at the next election.
Read the full piece at The Washington Post.