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From campus protests to the Congress floor, the central feature of contemporary American politics is ideological polarization. In this concise, readable, but comprehensive text, Steven E. Schier and Todd E. Eberly introduce students to this contentious subject through an in-depth look at the ideological foundations of the contemporary American political machine of parties, politicians, the media, and the public. Beginning with a redefinition of contemporary liberalism and conservatism, the authors develop a comprehensive examination of ideology in all branches of American national and state governments. Investigations into ideologies reveal a seeming paradox of a representative political system defined by ever growing divisions and a public that continues to describe itself as politically moderate. The work’s breadth makes it a good candidate for a course introducing American politics, while its institutional focus makes it suitable for adoption in more advanced courses on Congress, the Presidency, the courts or political parties.
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Steven E. Schier is Dorothy H. and Edward C. Congdon Professor of Political Science at Carleton College, where he has taught the last thirty years. He also directs the Carleton in Washington program, an off-campus term of study he founded in 1983. Schier is the author or co-author of seven books, including Panorama of a Presidency: How George W. Bush Acquired and Spent His Political Capital (2008) which won an “outstanding academic book” award from Choice magazine. He has edited six books, including The Postmodern President: Bill Clinton’s Legacy in U.S. Politics (2000) and High Risk and Big Ambition: The Presidency of George W. Bush (2004). Schier has written about Obama’s election in his recent book The American Elections of 2008 (2008), coedited with Janet Box-Steffensmeier. His most recent works are the edited volumes Ambition and Division: Legacies of the George W. Bush Presidency (2009),Transforming America: Barack Obama in the White House (2011) and the thirteenth edition of Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics, coauthored with Nelson W. Polsby, Aaron Wildavsky and David A. Hopkins (2011).
Todd Eberly is Chair of the Political Science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He specializes in social welfare policy as well as partisanship and polarization in American politics. Professor Eberly’s first book, American Government and Popular Discontent was released in June, 2013. His second book, The Rise of Ideology in America, is expected from Rowman and Littlefield in early 2016. He is an advisor to Project Vote Smart and his analysis and commentary have been featured in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, Public Radio/Television, ABC and Fox News as well as Al Jazeera America and CTV. He has served as an expert witness in Voting Rights Act challenges to gerrymandered Congressional districts and has consulted with the centrist organization Third Way. He was named one of the most influential voices in Maryland politics by Campaigns and Elections magazine. In 2010, the St. Mary’s College Student Government Association honored him with the Faculty Student Life Award. He lives in Southern MD with his wife and two daughters.
"While various analysts have described and explained party sorting—the growing relationship between partisanship and ideology—Schier and Eberly advance the discussion via a nuanced and thoughtful tracing of the consequences of party sorting for the operation of our national institutions." (Morris P. Fiorina, Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University)
"In one thoughtful, approachable, and concise book, Steven Schier and Todd Eberly have concisely summarized what we know about party polarization. It is a great introduction to the most important trend of the last 40 years in American politics. Through engaging political stories, dissecting election returns, and analyzing political science, the reader will walk away with a profound understanding of what caused party polarization, what it has effected, and what can be done about it. Their provocative conclusion will be a great conversation starter in the classroom, over the dinner table, or at the water cooler." (Sean M. Theriault, The University of Texas at Austin)
“Schier and Eberly address the critical question for contemporary politics – polarization in American democracy. This is a must read for scholars and informed citizens alike about the role and impact of ideology.” (Janet Box-Steffensmeier, The Ohio State University)
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