While previous scholarship has created anachronistic categories to analyze the political thought of notable liberals like John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, this article improves our understanding of liberalism by using an analytic category supplied by the writers themselves. Using Tocqueville’s aristocracy-democracy dichotomy, this paper demonstrates important differences in the social and political thought of Mill and Tocqueville previously overlooked. Specifically, by focusing on Mill’s reviews of Tocqueville’s work and correspondence between the two authors, this essay points out the differences between Mill’s “elitist democratic” liberalism and Tocqueville’s “aristocratic democratic” liberalism. This distinction has important implications for understanding the dominant forms of modern liberalism.
Many scholars have written about F.A. Hayek’s influence on postwar Anglo-American political thought, and many scholars have written about how interwar economic debates informed his turn from socialism to liberalism, but few have analyzed the philosophical foundations of his political thought. Those who have given cursory attention to this subject have mischaracterized it. For example, Louis Hartz (1955) erroneously claimed that Hayek was a Lockean liberal. In truth, Hayek’s political thought was grounded more upon eighteenth-century Scottish philosophers like Adam Smith and David Hume than seventeenth-century English philosophers like Locke. This article shows how Hayek saw himself building upon, and departing from, previous political philosophers and their foundational ideas.
Donald Trump’s transformation of Republican Party ideology has helped reveal major problems in the political science discipline’s conceptualization and measurement of ideology. Most scholarship is dominated by the mistaken view that party ideology changes can best be described by parties moving “left” or “right” on a static, ideological, spatial spectrum. In reality, the meaning and content of “left” and “right” (“liberal” and “conservative”) constantly evolve along with the issue positions of the two major parties. Thus, it makes no sense to describe parties as moving to the “left” or “right” over time when the very meanings of “liberalism” and “conservatism” change during the same time period. By understanding the dynamic character of ideology, we can reconcile the paradox of how Trump’s Republican Party can change its ideology even while continuing to be identified with “conservatism” and the “Right.”
This groundbreaking book challenges the dominant view of ideology held by both political scientists and political commentators. Rather than viewing ideological constructs like liberalism and conservatism as static concepts with fixed and enduring content, Professor Verlan Lewis explains how the very meanings of liberalism and conservatism frequently change along with the ideologies of the two major parties in American politics. Testing a new theory to help explain why party ideologies evolve the way that they do, this book traces the history of American political parties from the Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans of the 1790s to the liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans of today. Ideas of Power shows us how changing party control of government institutions, such as Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court, influences how party ideologies develop.
Throughout U.S. history, the two major political parties have switched positions many times on a variety of issues, including how powerful the national government should be and how much it should regulate and guide the American economy. Are these changes simply the product of historical contingency, or are there structural factors at work that can help explain these developments? This article finds that change in party control of government can help explain change in party ideologies with respect to economic policy. Parties in long-term control of unified government tend to develop their ideology in ways that call for a stronger national government and more economic intervention, while parties in opposition tend to change their ideology in ways that call for less national government power and less economic intervention.
Throughout U.S. history, the two major political parties have switched positions many times on a variety of issues, including whether the United States should intervene more or less in foreign affairs. Are these changes simply the product of historical contingency, or are there structural factors at work that can help explain these developments? This article finds that change in party control of the presidency can help explain change in party ideologies with respect to foreign policy. Parties in long-term control of the presidency tend to change their ideology in ways that call for more foreign intervention, while parties in opposition to the presidency tend to change their ideology in ways that call for less foreign intervention.