Book Review

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Anyone who doesn’t realize that the United States is currently a highly partisan nation would have to be dead, or at least in a coma. Since the contested 2000 election in which George W. Bush won the election due to the intervention of the Supreme Court and the machinery of the Electoral College while Al Gore won the popular vote, the nation has found itself increasingly divided into what political analysts refer to as the Blue States (those that gave Gore their electoral votes) and the Red States (those that gave their electoral votes to the Republicans).  Jules Witcover, in Party of the People: A History of the Democrats, provides a history of half of this political picture, helping us to understand how Americans have come to align themselves into two such different camps.

The book in part is a relatively straightforward history of the Democratic Party, which adopted its present name during the 1830s (during the presidency of Andrew Jackson). Jackson was a perfect symbol to many of the ideals that the Democratic Party (under whatever name, for since the founding of the republic there has always been a party that has had essentially the same ideals as the current Democratic Party) had always symbolized. These ideals include the importance of personal liberty and dignity, the rights of the common person, the importance of immigrants and (though it would not be called this for decades after Jackson headed the party) diversity as a fundamental American strength.

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