Ties That Bind
Ties That Bind
Untangling the Roots of Congressional Partisanship
The American public perceives the pervasive party conflict in Congress as “bickering” motivated by partisan passions or self-interest. Democrats and Republicans in Congress vote differently across many issues presumably because they hold different ideological beliefs about the role or purpose of government. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, this book argues that ideological disagreement alone cannot explain the extent of party conflict in the U.S. Congress. Instead, congressional parties hold together and battle with one another not only because of members' ideals or ideological preferences, but also because of powerful competing political interests. Party members experience what David Truman called “shared risk.” This book argues that fellow partisans' shared risk has wide-ranging effects on congressional party politics. Aside from ideology, it identifies four other factors that systematically generate party conflict and partisanship: presidential leadership, “good government” causes in which one party attacks the integrity and competence of its partisan opposition, conflicts over which party will control the legislative agenda, and manipulation of the legislative agenda toward party cleavage issues.
Keywords: Congress, partisanship, party politics, party conflict, ideology, good government, shared risk, presidential leadership, Democrats, Republicans