chapter  15
22 Pages

The Semi-Responsible Parties

The idea of responsible parties, also called party government, offers a vision of democracy very different from the traditional American commitment to limited government and the equally traditional American hostility to powerful political parties. The responsible parties model eases the path to majority rule. An ideological party is one with clear and consistent principles on a wide range of issues, from the purpose of government to the essence of human nature. An ideological voter, like an ideological party, would not just hold clear attitudes toward some individual issues but would also connect those attitudes into a coherent structure. The gap between Democrats and Republicans in their attitudes toward candidates and issues is much deeper among party leaders and political activists than among people who are less politically engaged. The major American parties behave more like responsible parties now than they have in a long time—perhaps ever—in the sense that each party in Congress hangs together more fully.