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Beyond Ideology

Beyond Ideology

Returning to Politics

(p.181) Chapter Eight Beyond Ideology
Beyond Ideology
University of Chicago Press

In recent years, political scientists and journalists have strongly argued that ideology plays an important role in structuring party conflict in the U.S Congress. Although party conflict in Congress can be attributed in large part to members' ideological orientations, it is also the result of continuous partisan struggles for power and elected office. Parties do battle in Congress not only because they have different beliefs and preferences, but also because they have contrasting political interests. This book has documented the increasing dominance of ideological concepts in explaining legislative partisanship, but has argued that presidential leadership is systematically associated with higher levels of party conflict on most areas of national policy. Knowing that most Republicans are conservative and Democrats are liberal simply does not say enough about partisanship in Congress. By highlighting the collective political interests that unite parties to battle one another on the floor, this book suggests some limitations of methodological individualism as an approach to the study of party politics.

Keywords:   partisanship, party conflict, party politics, Congress, ideology, presidential leadership, Democrats, Republicans, political interests, power

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