Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Daniel Schlozman's "When Movements Anchor Parties"

Daniel Schlozman is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History, and reported the following:
When Movements Anchor Parties compares five social movements across American history that confronted American political parties. Two movements forged long-running alliances with parties: organized labor with the Democrats starting in the New Deal years and the Christian Right with the Republicans starting in the late 1970s. Two movements fell apart: the Populists in the 1880s and 1890s and the antiwar movement in the 1960s. The abolitionist movement, finally, got inside the Republican Party but, as Reconstruction fell apart, couldn’t stay inside the party.

Parties accept movements inside their coalitions if they prefer them to other paths to majority. To convince pragmatists inside parties that they’ll be a good electoral bet, movements have must offer resources to parties that they can’t get elsewhere – votes, and the money, time, and networks needed to get votes. In return, parties will deliver policy for their group allies.

Page 99 treats an important episode in the formation of the Christian Right. In 1978, the Internal Revenue Service sought to revoke tax exemptions for schools formed as white-flight havens from the public schools. The backlash stopped the rules, and forged the Christian Right. The IRS received more than a quarter of a million letters against the proposed rules. Congressional hearings reframed the issue from an attack on segregation to an attack on religion by meddlesome bureaucrats. As Newt Gingrich, then a freshman representative explained, “The IRS should collect taxes—not enforce social policy.”

In particular, Page 99 compares the two Congressional chambers’ responses to the proposed IRS rules. The House language, adopted in conference, simply blocked the new rules. With support from all Republicans and the vast majority of Southern Democrats, it passed 297-63; a sizable chunk of Northern Democrats skipped the vote. In the Senate, by contrast, Jesse Helms aimed to forbid the IRS from any spending whatsoever to review private-school tax exemptions, even against schools such as Bob Jones University that admitted to racial discrimination. The debate explicitly referenced race, and the Helms language passed only by vote of 47-43, with the support of every Southern Democrat save one, and the opposition of a dozen Northern Republicans.

The framing in the House foretold a new alignment of religious conservatives with the Republican Party, based around shared opposition to taxes and bureaucrats – and silence on race. “The Senate, in other words,” Page 99 explains, “treated the amendment in traditional terms of racial politics, while in the House it linked to antigovernment conservatism.”
Visit Daniel Schlozman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue