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“Party Politics in America” a Book by Marjorie Randon Hershey

Introduction: Title and Thesis Statement

The book “Party Politics in America” by Marjorie Randon Hershey is usually regarded as a gold standard in relation to literature touching on power and influence in the country. As the title suggests, the author’s central theme in the text revolves around how politics is associated with political parties in the United States of America. A critical analysis of the book reveals that political parties exhibit a number of basic similarities.

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For instance, they have control of the government, enjoy mass support from members of the public, and come up with mechanisms through which they regulate funding. In addition, they play a significant role in the generation and dissemination of information in the country. Nominations to office in the various jurisdictions around the world are also based on affiliation to political parties. In this paper, the author will provide a detailed review of the book by Hershey Marjorie.

Party Politics in America”: A Book Review

Overview, Summary, and Structure of the Book

The book is current in its sixteenth edition. “Party Politics in America” has been around for a number of years. In addition to this text, Hershey has published several articles in various political science and communication journals. Her other publications in relation to politics can be found in the American Journal of Political Science, Political Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, and the Journal of Politics. The four are some of the most respected journals in this field. What this means is that Hershey’s theories and arguments are respected by her peers in academic circles.

The different publications by Hershey highlight the various aspects of party politics in America. In addition, the author uses the book to underscore the significance of the American political system as a whole. Most of her texts indicate the power and influence of the various political parties in the country. The view confirms the thesis statement of the current review.

“Party Politics in America” is carefully written. Hershey pays attention to all details pertaining to the political system existing in the country. To this end, Hershey critically analyses the various aspects and issues shaping the American political system. The book is built on upon the woks of other prominent authors in the political science field. Such prominent writers include such figures as Paul Allen Beck and Frank Sorauf. In addition, care and attention to detail are evident in this text. The development is one of the reasons why the current edition enjoys such popularity.

“Party Politics in America” adopts a three-pronged approach to the issue of organisation parties in the U.S. Hershey also analyses the subject of parties among the electorate. In addition, the location of the political organisations in the government is reviewed in the text. At the same time, the text introduces various contemporary and historical examples in its analysis. The examples provide the reader with vivid images regarding how the political parties have helped form the American political landscape.

With regards to the influence of political parties in the country, “Party Politics in America” examines the effects of the Tea Party in the American socio-political scene (Hershey 187). In addition, conflicts and struggles in relation to unions associated with public employees and their rights are discussed (Hershey 196). Ultimately, impacts of Citizens United and Super Political Action Committees (PACs) on the congressional and presidential campaigns are evaluated.

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There are three primary elements of political formations in contemporary society. The elements are what make up the text “Party Politics in America”. The components of parties highlighted in the text include, among others, the organisation of these entities, as well as the relationship between them and the electorate. The role of the organisations in the formation and running of the government is also highlighted (Hershey 33). In addition, Hershey brings out the nature of the interactions among these components, especially in relation to political campaigns.

To effectively bring out the various aspects of party politics in America, the text is organised into five major sections. The different sections are detailed and exhaustively discussed. They include introduction to political parties and party systems, the organisation of political parties, and the political parties in the electorate (Hershey 3). Other sections of the book include party nominations and elections, as well as their role or place in the government of the day. To this end, both ruling and opposition parties are reviewed.

Review of the Book in Relation to the Thesis Statement

As already indicated in this review, the similarities between political parties are some of the issues highlighted in the book. They include government control and mass support from members of the public. The parties also come up with mechanisms through which they regulate the flow of monetary resources, information, and appointment to office. Hershey uses the book to analyse the basis of this argument. In a number of instances in the book, the social position of parties either inside or outside the government is provided.

Even if opinions between party members differ on certain issues, they always tend to come to an agreement in order to increase their social influence. For instance, according to Hershey, “party organisation, its candidates, and its citizen supporters don’t always march to the same drummer” (p. 182). However, “they will try to pull together at election time, because they can all benefit by doing so” (Hershey 182).

Hershey’s arguments in this case are in relation to how political parties, even those outside the government, tend to exert their influence in the society. The attribute is especially common among political organisations that succeed in forming the government and wishing to remain relevant in this position. Here, the union is not concerned with the interests of the electorate. On the contrary, their focus is on controlling the public.

In efforts to persuade the public to vote for them, political parties in the U.S exhibit the common attribute of massive expenditures in campaigns. According to Hershey, “Both before and after reforms, money has played a bigger role in American elections than in those of most other democracies” (p. 236). Money is a key resource in the running of campaigns and party operations in the U.S. There are major fundraisers to support the activities of these organisations.

The party with the highest level of funding control is more likely to win elections compared to others. The campaigns are largely transformed into public relations efforts. Consequently, “large number of elected officials combined with frequent primary and general elections has produced a year-round election industry (Hershey 236).

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Government control constitutes another factor indicating the similarity between political parties in the country. To this end, it is noted that government officials drawn from the same party do not necessarily need to agree on anything (Hershey 265). According to Hershey, although political party members “may all share the same party label, (they) do not always share the same priorities” (p. 267).

In addition, “the design of the American political system works against a unified party in government” (Hershey p. 267). The factor applies to all the political formations in the nation. In the American system, Congress members and the president, for instance, are elected separately. Consequently, they are not bound to work together in spite of their affiliation to political parties. They represent differing pressures and constituencies.

The similarity of differing opinions of same party members in the government is the only factor that seems to favour the electorate. Elected party members can opt to address the interests of their constituents even if they differ from those of the organisation. However, this bipartisan route can also be used to garner greater support from the masses, increasing the grip or control the party has on them.


The text “Party Politics in America” provides a comprehensive coverage of the structure and operations of political parties in the U.S. Consequently, the book reveals the various similarities and differences between these formations. The organisations are used to advance the interests of the electorate and those of the members. Hershey does an excellent job of revealing the mechanisms, machinations, and structures behind political parties in the U.S. It appears that the political groupings are united by the element of control, either inside or outside the government. In addition, their commonality helps them to achieve these objectives.

Works Cited

Hershey, Marjorie. Party Politics in America. 16th ed. 2013. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. Print.

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