chapter  8
Thurlow Weed: A Hero in Party Politics
Pages 24

To political scientists, by contrast, party politicians are essential to a free society. Almost all share a belief “that the political parties created democracy and that modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of the parties.”« In the modern world, open competition between political parties has become the hallmark of e¤ective democracy. Citizens accomplish their control over the government through their choice of party politicians. As politicians search for votes, they are compelled to satisfy the demands of the voters. In the words of Joseph Schumpeter, “democracy is the rule of the politician.”À

Political parties are one of the institutions of American politics, although they are di¤erent from the institutions described in previous chapters. Parties are not included in the written Constitution, which regards them “like a scandal in polite society: they are alluded to but never discussed.”à Nevertheless, parties are an integral part

of the formal organizations of the government, shaping the workings of Congress, the election of the president, appointments to the judiciary, and policies of the bureaucracy. Their role as an established institution is recognized in statutes and constitutional law, just as their place is preserved in Americans’ hearts and minds. Contrary to common expectations, even party politicians may become heroes, when their ordinary work is carried out in fitting historical circumstances. We can find such a circumstance in the greatest crisis of American history, the Civil War, and see heroism in the actions of a typical, and now unheralded, politician.