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Duverger’s Law suggests that two parties will dominate under first-past-the-post (FPTP) within an electoral district, but the law does not necessarily establish two-party competition at the national level. United States is unique among FPTP countries in having the only durable and nearly pure, two-party system. Following this observation, we answer two questions. First, what contributes to the same two parties competing in districts all across the country and at different levels of office? Second, why is the US two-party system so durable over time, dominated by the same two parties? That is, “Why two parties?” As an answer, we propose the APP: ambition, the presidency, and policy. The presidency with its national electorate and electoral rules that favor two-party competition establishes two national major parties, which frames the opportunity structure that influences party affiliation decisions of ambitious politicians running for lower offices. Control over the policy agenda helps reinforce the continuation of a particular two-party system in equilibrium by blocking third parties through divergence on the main issue dimension and the suppression of latent issue dimensions that could benefit new parties. The confluence of the three factors explains why the United States is so uniquely a durable two-party system.
We consider whether the manipulation of committee sizes can serve as a strategic tool of the majority party to further its influence over policy outcomes in the US House. Previous research notes the influence of the majority party’s preferences on the composition of committees but takes the size of committees as exogenous. We argue that the determination of sizes is an important first step and potential tool to shape committee composition, given vacancy constraints like the property rights norm. Using assignment and revealed legislator ideology data from the 80th to 111th Congresses, our results support this view of strategic expansion as a majority party strategy particularly for “prestige committees,” which are most central to a party’s agenda. Expansion indeed results in committees that are ideologically closer to the majority caucus median.
This paper assesses the influence of the electoral threat of third parties on major-party roll call voting in the US House. Although low-dimensionality of voting is a feature of strong two-party politics, which describes the contemporary era, there is significant variation across members. I hypothesize that major-party incumbents in districts under a high threat from third-party House candidates cast votes that do not fit neatly onto the dominant ideological dimension. This hypothesis is driven by (1) third party interests in orthogonal issues, and (2) incumbents accounting for those interests when casting votes in order to minimize the impact of third parties. An empirical test using data from the 105th to 109th Congresses provides evidence of this effect.
We analyze elite-level issue dynamics of culture war issues in the US from 1971 to 2008 to compare and contrast three theories of issue change: issue evolution, conflict extension, and ideological polarization. Previous studies often conflate these perspectives by only focusing on increased partisanship as evidence of issue change. We argue that these theories differ on a key aspect of issue conflict: dimensionality, that is, the relationship between political conflict on the issue in question and conflict on other issues. We analyze changes in the dimensionality of roll call voting in the US House on the environment, women’s rights, gun control, abortion, and immigration to present a more comprehensive view of issue dynamics. Our results suggest that these perspectives need further clarification and can complement one another. In particular, considering degrees of an issue evolution is beneficial. Although most issues became more partisan as they were simply absorbed into existing partisan cleavages, which is not consistent with some descriptions of an evolution, the more prominent culture war issues, such as abortion and gun control, showed more distinctive and prominent characteristics.
The Minos is said to initiate the natural law tradition because it claims that an unjust law is not truly a law. But the dialogue also shows that reason cannot recognize that a given statute, as such, is a law. Along with this criticism of law, the Minos shows why the Socratic inquiry into law must consider whether divine law is based on a kind of knowledge through which law can be recognized as authoritative. Thanks to the Minos, we see that Plato's Laws begins by examining the kind of knowledge that underlies divine law and that throughout the dialogue the Athenian Stranger is testing whether human reason can know and establish divine law. In the end, the Minos and Laws establish a once influential but now neglected Socratic tradition of inquiry into law.
This paper applies Gray's model of collaboration to deliberations concerning sustainable tourism on The Island Territory of Bonaire in the Caribbean. It examines stakeholder logic and strategy in attempting to coordinate three policy areas during the period 1993-98: those relating to hotel-room inventory, airline capacity and water pollution abatement. Relying on in-depth interviews with key participants, the paper analyses how Bonaire stakeholders attempted to pursue both economic and ecological approaches to sustainability by combining these three. It also examines why this effort has not yet been successful, an examination that emphasises a decline in tourist demand and an approach to collaboration that was unsystematic and lacking in institutionalised structure. Implications for collaboration theory include the findings that there is vulnerability in informal modes of organisation and that progress from one stage of deliberation to the next does not necessarily require closure at the earlier stage. Implications for sustainable tourism include the confirmation of hypotheses concerning the critical role played by economies of scale and policy interdependence.