American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1981 - History - 303 pages
0 Reviews

This stunningly persuasive book examines the persistent, radical gap between the promise of American ideals and the performance of American politics. Samuel P. Huntington shows how Americans, throughout their history as a nation, have been united by the democratic creed of liberty, equality, and hostility to authority. At the same time he reveals how, inevitably, these ideals have been perennially frustrated through the institutions and hierarchies required to carry on the essential functions of governing a democratic society.

From this antagonism between the ideals of democracy and the realities of power have risen four great political upheavals in American history. Every third generation, Huntington argues, Americans have tried to reconstruct their institutions to make them more truly reflect deeply rooted national ideals. Moving from the clenched fists and mass demonstrations of the 1960s, to the moral outrage of the Progressive and Jacksonian Eras, back to the creative ideological fervor of the American Revolution, he incisively analyzes the dissenters' objectives.All, he pungently writes, sought to remove the fundamental disharmony between the reality of government in America and the ideals on which the American nation was founded.

Huntington predicts that the tension between ideals and institutions is likely to increase in this country in the future. And he reminds us that the fate of liberty and democracy abroad is intrinsically linked to the strength of our power in world affairs.

This brilliant and controversial analysis deserves to rank alongside the works of Tocqueville, Bryce, and Hofstadter and will become a classic commentary on the meaning of America.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

The American Creed and National Identity
13
Political Ideas and National Identity
23
The American Creed versus Political
31
The Gap in Comparative Perspective
42
Coping with the Gap
61
The Gap and A merican Political Style
75
The Politics of Creedal Passion
85
The Climate of Creedal Passion
91
The Mobilization of Protest
180
The Dynamics of Exposure
188
The Legacies
196
Institutional Realignment
203
The Misuse and Erosion of Authority
211
The Viability of American Ideals and Institutions
221
America versus the World?
236
The Myth of A merican Repression
246

The Movement and the Establishment
105
Reform and Its Limits
112
Political Earthquakes and Realignment
122
The SS Years 19601975
167
Interlude of Hypocrisy Surge of Moralism
173
The Promise of Disappointment
259
Notes
265
Index
293
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1981)

Samuel P. Huntington was Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University, and the author of Political Order in Changing Societies.

Bibliographic information