Event Title

The Left Wing of the Possible: Building an American Labor Party in the Shadow of the New Deal: 1936-1947

Presenter Information

Jesse Docter, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 101

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2018 12:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 1:20 PM

Abstract

My research uses a historical account of the American Labor Party (ALP) in New York City from 1936 to 1947 to show how electoral systems structure opportunities for leftist third parties. I unpack the relationship between the exceptional success of the ALP and New York’s unique electoral reforms which weakened the principle of winner-take-all and created more proportional representation. In particular, I argue that New York’s electoral reforms created opportunities for the ALP by enabling the party to claim partial credit for President Roosevelt’s major policy achievements under the New Deal. My research connects two literatures, one explaining the absence of a strong American Labor Party and a second explaining the two-party tendency of America’s electoral system. I argue that reforms which strengthen minority representation not only lower the barrier to entry for third parties, but also have specific benefits for parties on the left. These electoral reforms allow leftist parties to circumnavigate the conflict between incremental reform and ideological autonomy which has historically troubled the American left.

Keywords:

electoral systems, labor politics, third parties, New York City history

Notes

Session II, Panel 7 - Politicized | Knowledge
Moderator: Sarah El-Kazaz, Assistant Professor of Politics

Major

Politics; History

Advisor(s)

Marc Blecher, Politics
Renee Romano, History

Project Mentor(s)

Jade Schiff, Politics
David Forrest, Politics
Marc Blecher, Politics

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 27th, 12:00 PM Apr 27th, 1:20 PM

The Left Wing of the Possible: Building an American Labor Party in the Shadow of the New Deal: 1936-1947

King Building 101

My research uses a historical account of the American Labor Party (ALP) in New York City from 1936 to 1947 to show how electoral systems structure opportunities for leftist third parties. I unpack the relationship between the exceptional success of the ALP and New York’s unique electoral reforms which weakened the principle of winner-take-all and created more proportional representation. In particular, I argue that New York’s electoral reforms created opportunities for the ALP by enabling the party to claim partial credit for President Roosevelt’s major policy achievements under the New Deal. My research connects two literatures, one explaining the absence of a strong American Labor Party and a second explaining the two-party tendency of America’s electoral system. I argue that reforms which strengthen minority representation not only lower the barrier to entry for third parties, but also have specific benefits for parties on the left. These electoral reforms allow leftist parties to circumnavigate the conflict between incremental reform and ideological autonomy which has historically troubled the American left.