Democracy in Crisis: An Examination of the Negative Effects of Political Parties on Democracy

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At the request of the author, this paper is not available for download. Bona fide researchers may consult it by visiting the University Archives in Tate Archives & Special Collections; contact archives@iwu.edu for details.

This project received dual honors jointly with Political Science.


Over the last decade, many political analyst’s multiple has observed what they perceive to be a crisis of democracy in advanced developed democracies. These analysts associate the crisis of democracy with declines in party membership, widespread distrust in representative government, and a lack of participation in electoral practices. However, although there is a large literature that maintains that political parties are the ‘gatekeepers’ of democracy, the critical role of political parties in intensifying the democratic crisis has not been adequately examined. This paper offers a theoretical account of party function for the electorate, the party organization, and the government to understand how the diminishment may undermine democratic norms. This paper focuses its empirical analysis on polarization in the United States and examines changes in co-sponsorship of congressional bills and circuit court judge confirmations.



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