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National Parties and Local Politics

  • Ellen Deborah Ellis (a1)


It is curious that the question with which, of all others, every participant in local politics finds himself most persistently confronted—and it is a truism that by far the greatest part of our political lives are concerned with local affairs—should be given so little. attention in treatises on American government. I refer to the problem of the relation between national political parties and state and local politics.

The problem presents itself under two aspects, in one sense separate, though in reality closely interwoven with each other. There is first the anomaly that local issues seem so far removed from the platforms of the organizations, the national parties, through which the often perplexed and embarrassed voter must express himself in the performance of his ordinary electoral duties in the state or the locality; and there is, secondly, the question faced by every would-be reformer of local government, as to whether the desired reforms can best be brought about through the national party organizations or through separate locally organized groups.



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1 Municipal Government in the United States (New York, 1934), p. 237.

2 Ibid., pp. 55–56. Cf. also statements of Commission to Devise a Plan for the Government of Cities in the State of New York, p. 13; of Matthews, N. Jr., in The City Government of Boston, p. 178; of Brand Whitlock, in The Evil Influence of National Parties and Issues in Municipal Elections; in the Conference for Good City Government, 1907, p. 193; of Cushman, Robert E., in Non-Partisan Nominations and Elections in 106 Annals of Am. Acad. of Pol. and Soc. Sci., p. 83 (March, 1923); and of Hughes, Charles Evans, in Conditions of Progress in Democratic Government, pp. 111112—all cited in Kneier's, Charles M.City Government in the United States (New York, 1934), pp. 237239.

3 Reed, op. cit., p. 239.

4 Kneier, op. cit., p. 237.

5 Reed. op. cit., pp. 55–56.

6 Munro, W. B., Municipal Government and Administration (New York, 1923), Vol. 1, p. 298.

7 Munro, op. cit., Vol. 1, pp. 297–298.

8 Leonard, D. White, The City Manager (Chicago, 1927).

9 White, op. cit., pp. 294–298.

10 City Management: The Cincinnati Experiment (New York, 1933).

11 Ibid., p. 5.

12 Taft, op. cit., p. 235. Cf. also pp. 76–147.

13 The National Municipal Review has printed a few such articles, but more are needed.

14 Cf. Dickinson, John, Political Aspects of the New Deal, in this Review, Vol. 28, p. 204 (Apr., 1934).


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