Volume 11 (2013)
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Volume 9 (2011)
Most Downloaded Articles
- If I Could Hold a Seminar for Political Journalists… by Fiorina, Morris P.
- If Everyone Votes Their Party, Why Do Presidential Election Outcomes Vary So Much? by Shaw, Daron
- Independent Leaners as Policy Partisans: An Examination of Party Identification and Policy Views by Magleby, David B. and Nelson, Candice
- Delegation, Control, and the Study of Public Bureaucracy by Moe, Terry M.
- The Disappearing--but Still Important--Swing Voter by Mayer, William G.
Polarized Populism: Masses, Elites, and Partisan Conflict
1University of British Columbia
Citation Information: The Forum. Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages –, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: 10.2202/1540-8884.1428, April 2011
- Published Online:
Scholars offer differing accounts of the roles played by political elites, on the one hand, and ordinary citizens, on the other, in the highly polarized partisan conflict of contemporary American politics. Some take polarized elite conflict to indicate, in itself, that elected policymakers have escaped the constraints of democratic control and act essentially independently. In sharp contrast to this view, I outline a case for the importance of what I call polarized populisma condition of politics in which elected officials accord very substantial deference to ordinary citizens, especially those who hold relatively extreme ideological views. I clarify the differences between elite centered and populist accounts of polarized policymaking, and then develop the argument for polarized populism, presenting theoretical considerations in support and assessing several kinds of relevant evidence. I also reply to some claims by Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro, proponents of the elite-centered view, in an earlier exchange in the Forum. In concluding, I comment briefly about some directions for research to assess the case for polarized populism and discuss some broader implications of this pattern of policymaking.