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Although much recent literature has focused on the decline of parties, and on the resulting loss of a "major historical vehicle for aggregating the interests of this diverse republic," parties have always been no more than a tool of the politicians, the ambitious office seekers, and the officeholders.They have maintained or abused the party system "when doing so has furthered their goals and ambitions." Politicians "do not have partisan goals per se.
Now, due to technological improvements, changes in politicians and electorate priorities (policy preponderance), etc., candidates are able to provide the "information goods' that political parties used to supply.
Although, this "new" situation means that politics are now candidate-centered, political parties are still important institutions for ambitious politicians; since political parties are now "parties-in-service" to candidates.
If parties have declined, this decline has not occurred in their formal organizations, but in their capacity to attract the electorate.
Political parties are still important in terms of legislative behavior and in terms of the relations between branches of government.
In the end, Weisberg finds we are more likely to have collective representation.
Bases his findings on extensive travels with legislators in their districts.
States that the public dislikes the processes of government.
Congress is a showcase of conflict, partisanship, and bargaining and since these processes are seen so clearly in this branch, it is disliked the most.
The mass party that characterized the second party system was an institutional outcome that politicians employed to resolve the collective action problem of social mobilization.
In the second part of the book, Aldrich analyses party politics since 1960.