John B. Judis is a senior editor at The New Republic, where he is working since 1982. He graduated at the University of California at Berkeley in 1965 and taught philosophy there later on. He was an active leftist activist during the 60es and founded the leftwing journal The Socialist Revolution in 1969. In his book The Paradox of American Democracy, Elites, Special Interests, and the Betrayal of Public Trust, Judis focuses principally on how conservative forces succeeded in gaining power, through the establishment of interest groups and right-wing foundations. He cultivates a sort of nostalgia for the years in which progressive movements began to emerge before being counterattacked by the business-classes.
[...] This ambitious thesis shows Judis' main point: namely, to propose a global and precise interpretation of the American 20th Century and its political working. Voters and Parties The author first goes back to the beginning of the 19th century in order to analyses the impact of the electorate and of the political parties on the political process and how this did lead to the “electoralist theory”. At that time the political parties were actually the unique real, political institution and the centre of political life. [...]
[...] In the end of the 20th century, elites have been “eclipsed” by lobbies, albeit “they have been essential” (Judis) to the success of the American democracy. The role of government The role that one awaited from the American government changed a lot during the 20th Century. The Federalists and the Jacksonians for example, didn't agree on the relevance of a skilled and educated elite that could promote the public interest. With time, the government became a sort of passive referee whose role is essentially to negotiate among interest groups. [...]
[...] The creation of American interest groups started in the late 19th century, and was then boosted during World War I and World War II, so that in 1949 about 4,000 interest groups could be counted - be they civic, professional, and labor or trade interest groups. Their activity was evidently lobbying. So Judis they also participated in the “weakening” of the political parties. They flourished in modern America during the 1960es and 1970es. It is at that time that Washington became the meeting point of trade associations, law firms and public relations agencies, especially in the “K-Street”. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee