Defining Democracy: Electoral Reform and the Struggle for Power in New York City
In 1936, New Yorkers approved a radical change in local democracy. By a margin of nearly two to one, they replaced the corrupt board of aldermen with a city council elected via proportional representation (PR). Rather than traditional winner-take-all elections between two candidates representing two political parties, PR allowed voters to rank candidates on their ballots in order of preference and guaranteed victory to anyone polling more than 75,000 votes. This system enabled the election of the most diverse legislatures in New York's history, comprised of the city's first African American legislators and unprecedented numbers of women and third-party representatives. With their authority threatened, the Democratic and Republican parties allied against PR and the system's coalition of supporters. Following several unsuccessful repeal attempts led by the two major parties, the election of two Communists spurred a groundswell of red-baiting that set the stage for a battle that would define New York City governance for generations. Defining Democracy examines struggles over electoral reform in New York City to clarify our understanding of democracy's evolution in the United States and the world. In the midst of global crises concerning the purpose and power of government during the Great Depression, Second World War, and early Cold War, New Yorkers debated the meaning of self-rule in the United States. In a series of campaigns over the expansion of voting rights in New York City, activists challenged the boundaries of who could be elected, what interests could be represented, and ultimately what policies could be implemented at the local level.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
The Perils and Promise of Democratic Reform
1 The Politics of Electoral Reform in New York City History
2 Restructuring Urban Democracy Amid the Great Depression
3 Proportional Representation and the Practice of Democracy in New York City
Specters of Totalitarianism in City Politics
5 A Red in the City Hall
Other editions - View all
activists advocates allies American Labor Party anti-Communism anti-Communist anti-PR anti-Tammany argued argument ballot Berle board of aldermen borough presidents Bronx Brooklyn Eagle Cacchione Cacchione’s campaign candidates charter commission charter reform Charter Revision Commission Citizens Union city government City politics city’s civic coalition Cohen Committee Communist Party Constitutional Convention council members critical CURB Davis democracy Democratic and Republican Democratic Party Editorial electoral system endorsed fascism Fiorello La Guardia Fusion Genevieve George Hallett good-government groups Hermens home rule League legislative legislature Liberal machines majority Manhattan Members elected minority November NYPL October organizations party’s policies political parties PR elections PR’s PRL Papers pro-PR proportional representation proposal reelection referendum repeal represented Republican Party rhetoric Robert Moses Roosevelt Samuel Seabury Seabury Stanley Isaacs tally Tammany Hall Tammany’s threat tion tional representation University Press victory vote voters women York City Charter York City Council York World-Telegram Yorkers