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Elephant's Edge: The Republicans as a Ruling Party [Hardcover]

Andrew J. Taylor
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

August 30, 2005 0275985369 978-0275985363 1st, First Edition, First Printing

The Republican Party currently enjoys an edge. The advantage can be seen in Congress, state politics, judicial rulings, foreign and domestic policy, party finances, the media, public attitudes, and economic and demographic developments. Yet the Republicans do not seem capable of translating this into a durable electoral majority.

Conditions now exist within American politics that will facilitate the establishment of Republican rule. Many of these conditions have ripened during the past decade. They include rules governing elections and campaign finance, shifts in core political values among the public that are consistent with Republican philosophy, and fundamental social and economic changes in American society that are likely to increase the ranks of Republican voters. The author explains in lucid, engaging terms how Republicans have taken control of both houses of Congress and experienced a remarkable resurgence at the state level. He explores how conservatives are utilizing the courts to simultaneously move policy rightward and mobilize sympathetic parts of the electorate. He also examines social and economic changes to show how racial politics, religiosity, and the nature of work and wealth benefit today's Republican Party.

Republican rule should not be confused with Republican realignment. These conditions will advantage Republicans in future elections and bring about consistent Republican control of government at all levels—federal, state, and local, executive, legislative, and judicial. However, current conditions do not guarantee the kind of enduring Republican majority many journalists and strategists have predicted. Taylor explains the factors that will prohibit the Republicans from fully exploiting their advantages and dominating American politics the way the Democrats did in the 30 years following the New Deal. These factors include internal and intractable tensions within the Republican Party, the parties' sophisticated political information gathering strategies, and the innate risk aversion of the campaign industry.

Editorial Reviews


"Elephant's Edge: The Republicans as a Ruling Party is a very good exploration of the current Republican hegemony in American politics, from the White House to Congress to the federal courts to state houses across the country….This book is especially good in the sense that Taylor seamlessly brings together academic scholarship and journalistic accounts (and opinions) to draw a crisply constructed diagram of how the Republicans have succeeded so well in a relatively short period of time….Whatever one's political stripe, s/he will find this book to be highly informative and engaging, most especially those of us who are very keen to see whether the electoral landscape changes in both 2006 and 2008 elections."


Political Science Quarterly

"The operative word in this book's title is edge because Taylor says that the Republicans have the political advantage but do not have the appeal to become the long-term majority party. In this excellent investigation into the state of the Republican Party, he credits Newt Gingrich for the deft organizational skills that led to the Republican resurgence with the takeover of the House after decades of Democratic control. The Republicans maintain their edge, in no small part, through pork-barrel politics and redistricting, tactics that Republicans complained about when the Democrats did the same. The author shows that the edge has been bolstered by Bush's post-9/11 foreign policy (despite failings of the Iraq war), the increasing conservative judicial rulings of all courts, and small-government, low-tax policies. Despite this, Taylor concludes that the Republican Party will not achieve the dominance for which it aims because of the flexibility of the Democratic Party to adapt to its constituents' needs, the deteriorating conditions in Iraq, and growing fissures in an overconfident Republican Party. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries."


Library Journal, Starred Review

"This book is the latest entry in a growing field devoted to deciphering the success of the Republican Party in national politics….[a] sturdy survey of the far-ranging efforts of the Republican Party, whether in rigging the tax code or exploiting the Terri Schiavo case, to cement its majority status."


The New York Times

"This is one of those rare books that will please both political scientists and partisan activists. Taylor has written a book that has united a diverse group of scholars in praise of his conclusions. This group includes some of the most important names in the scholarship of political parties, such as Norman Ornstein, who wrote the introduction. Larry Sabato, Thomas E. Mann, and John J. Pitney, Jr. have all weighed in to agree with the premise. Taylor's incisive analysis of contemporary American politics argues that although the contemporary Republican Party is not the majority party, inherent Constitutional, political, and organizational advantages have made it the governing party. Taylor points to the Senate's rural bias, the Republican's superior organization, the creation of conservative think tanks, the emergence of overtly conservative media outlets, and the rightward drift of public opinion as reasons for the Republican edge. This edge, in Taylor's view, will offer the Democrats only transitory opportunities to control either the presidency or Congress. The book incorporates a wide range of scholarly articles into its well-written analysis of contemporary politics. Highly recommended. General readers, lower-division undergraduates and above."




"Taylor has written an exceptionally lively and insightful analysis of how the Republicans came to be the ruling party in contemporary American politics but why they are unlikely to emerge as an enduring majority party. Elephant's Edge chronicles the many forces-constitutional, statutory, geographical, institutional, jurisprudential, foreign and domestic policy, organizational, media, economic and demographic- that give the GOP a decided advantage….A productive and enjoyable read for any student of American politics."


Thomas E. Mann, W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1st, First Edition, First Printing edition (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275985369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275985363
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,133,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you like David Broder, you'll love this... July 3, 2006
...and I don't mean that as flattery. How about a little sophisticated bias, Scarecrow?? Taylor works hard to APPEAR objective, but even a lazy reading of this book will reveal his true stripes. He tosses around half-baked conjecture and omits major aspects of recent party dynamics to boldy "prove" that the Republicans maybe, just might, possibly, could potentially be on the rise! It takes 300 pages to state the obvious?? What's most disturbing, however, is that nowhere in his treatment can be found any possibility that the Republican rise might have anything at all do with being right, on major issues. It's all happening simply because of either demographic dynamics, or Democratic ineffectiveness, or Americans just being "spun" so well. Well, this Independent will suggest to Mr. Taylor that it might also have something to do with Republicans being extraordinarily more in tune with average Americans' wishes and beliefs than the Democratic Party is. He would never in a million years state it so boldly....and that's one reason why this is an "only if you have nothing else to read" selection.
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