Two-Party Political System Discussed Today in Murkland Hall
By Lori Wright, Media Relations
April 25, 2007
The key to understanding American politics is not understanding who
won, but who lost and why, according Theodore Lowi, one of the preeminent
political scientists in the nation who will speak at UNH today.
Lowi, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell
University, will discuss the two-party system and the state of American
politics at 4:30 p.m. in Richards Auditorium, Murkland Hall. His talk
is titled “The Death and Life of American Political Parties.” It
is free and open to the public.
“Ted Lowi is one of the most prominent political scientists in
our time. His ‘End of Liberalism’ book literally stood alone
in the field for years as the most thoughtful and thought-provoking
treatise on change in American politics. His more recent work on shifts
in political institutions and loyalties has captivated students and
faculty across the country. In addition, he is a dynamic and challenging
speaker whom we are very proud to have as our guest on campus,” says
Marilyn Hoskin, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Lowi is a leading critic of the American two-party system and believes
that the existing parties do not provide adequate representation for
our diverse nation. “We watch politics like it’s a game,
and the key to the game is who won. But it’s misleading to always
look at who won and why. I stress the opposite. The key to national
elections is who lost and why they lost,” Lowi says.
For example, Roosevelt and the Democrats didn’t win in 1932,
he says. Rather, the Republican Party collapsed after being in power
for 70 years. It is only by understanding why a candidate lost that
we can understand how that political party, which he calls a coalition,
transforms into something different.
“The Republican Party died in the 1990s and morphed into a conservative
party. The Republican Party is no longer the party of Lincoln and Reagan.
It’s the party of the conservatives of the early British conservative,
imperialistic system,” Lowi says.
And according to Lowi, the Democrats will not win in 2008; the Republicans
will lose. Only after this “death” of the Republican Party
will it transform into something different.
However, there will never be a true third party in America, Lowi says,
even though some such as the Libertarian Party and independent candidates
like Ross Perot have had a measured impact on politics.
“There will never be a major third party as long as state laws
discriminate against third parties. The two-party system is a myth.
It’s not good for America. There is one thing that the Democrats
and the Republicans can agree on, and that’s that we should discriminate
against third parties,” Lowi says.
Lowi has served as president of the Policy Studies Organization, the
American Political Science Association, and the International Political
Science Association. He has written or edited more than a dozen books,
including “The Pursuit of Justice” (with Robert F. Kennedy), “The
Personal President,” “The End of the Republican Era” and “A
Republic of Parties: Debating the Two-Party System.” His classic
work, “The End of Liberalism,” has been called the most
influential book written about American politics during the last half-century.
Lowi’s talk is sponsored by the political science department
and the College of Liberal Arts. For more information, contact the political
science department at 2-1751.