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Mayor Wu’s Book Group: The Hollow Parties

Join Mayor Michelle Wu and authors Daniel Schlozman and Sam Rosenfeld for a conversation about The Hollow Parties: The Many Pasts and Disordered Present of American Party Politics, a new book that explores the state of US party politics.

Tuesday evening, June 11th at 6pm at the Boston Athenaeum

Reserve your spot.

About the book: 

America’s political parties are hollow shells of what they could be, locked in a polarized struggle for power and unrooted as civic organizations. The Hollow Parties takes readers from the rise of mass party politics in the Jacksonian era through the years of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Today’s parties, at once overbearing and ineffectual, have emerged from the interplay of multiple party traditions that reach back to the Founding.

Daniel Schlozman and Sam Rosenfeld paint unforgettable portraits of figures such as Martin Van Buren, whose pioneering Democrats invented the machinery of the mass political party, and Abraham Lincoln and other heroic Republicans of that party’s first generation who stood up to the Slave Power. And they show how today’s fractious party politics arose from the ashes of the New Deal order in the 1970s. Activists in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention transformed presidential nominations but failed to lay the foundations for robust, movement-driven parties. Instead, modern American conservatism hollowed out the party system, deeming it a mere instrument for power.

Party hollowness lies at the heart of our democratic discontents. With historical sweep and political acuity, The Hollow Parties offers powerful answers to pressing questions about how the nation’s parties became so dysfunctional—and how they might yet realize their promise.

About the authors:

Daniel Schlozman is associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History (Princeton).

Sam Rosenfeld is associate professor of political science at Colgate University. He is the author of The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era.

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