On The Reading List


I’ve always been puzzled by the realignment theory of American elections. I never really studied US history or US politics at the college level, so I’ve never been in a position to claim to be able to assess the arguments offered pro and con for this account of things. It’s clear that American political journalists act as if the political science underlying realignment theory is strong and sound. I’ve also always felt, based on my philosophical background, that the theory looked like a slightly absurd superstition. But who was really to say? Then I saw that one of Steve Teles’ recommended books for aspiring journalists is David Mayhew’s Electoral Realignments: A Critique of an American Genre of which Teles remarks:

American political journalists continue to talk as if “realignment” was still a meaningful phenomenon. Mayhew shows in this cool and clinical book that it’s not, and what is more, probably never was. He also makes some very suggestive comments on what might substitute for realignment as a large-scale explanation for political change.

Sounds like a book I should read. Since it would be a prejudice-confirming book at this point, though, I suppose I should also ask the collective wisdom of the internet to recommend a book making the case for “realignment” as a phenomenon with meaningful explanatory power.