These new essays map the ways political parties remain vital components in the American political system, especially in the eleven states in the South.
As Tocqueville noted more than 100 years ago, "No countries need associations more . . . than those with a democratic social state." Although some contemporary observers see a decline in associations, especially in the political sphere, the contributors in this volume argue not only that political parties remain an essential component of the American political system but also that grassroots political groups have revitalized the political process, especially in the South.
Using data gathered from local party officials in the eleven southern states, the authors examine such key issues as: Who becomes involved in local party organizations and why? How do parties recruit and retain workers? What are the ideological and issue orientations of these activists? How does intraparty factionalism affect local party organizations? What is the connection between the party organization and its external environment?
The large regional database provides these contributors with the opportunity to extend the study of local party organization and activists, thus addressing some of the significant gaps in previous research. The additional data enable them to clarify the nature of local party organizations and, in a larger sense, the role of the parties in the contemporary American political system.