What do we need to know about political parties in order to understand them? In his classic study E. E. Schattschneider delineates six crucial points: A political party is an organized attempt to get control of the government. Parties live in a highly competitive world. The major parties manage to maintain their supremacy over the minor parties. The internal processes of the parties have not generally received the attention they deserve in treatises on American politics. The party is a process that has grown up about elections. And perhaps most important of all is the distribution of power within the party organization.
But Party Government is not just about political parties. At its heart is the theory and practice of modern democracy, and it is the most cited, controversial, and probably single most influential study of political parties ever written, Schattschneider questions the purpose of government, who rules, and how government should be organized consistent with its fundamental purpose, which are the enduring fault lines of American democracy. He takes the reader through a thorough and penetrating examination of political parties and the American government. Starting with a historical overview and defense of parties, Schattschneider offers a searing analysis of politics itself, with special focus on the number of interest groups both affecting and affected by government. He describes the various types of political organizations--major parties, pressure groups, and minor parties--and offers a study of the two-party character of the American system.
Sidney A. Pearson, Jr. offers a strikingly original new introduction about E. E. Schattschneider and his contribution to political science. Gracefully and wittily written, Party Government is mandatory reading for students and scholars of political science, government, and American political theory.