The Amateur Democrat: Club Politics in Three Cities

James Q. Wilson, The Amateur Democrat: Club Politics in Three Cities (University of Chicago Press, 1962; paperback edition, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1974).

“In 1962, Wilson wrote The Amateur Democrat: Club Politics in Three Cities. In certain respects, The Amateur Democrat is Wilson’s most prophetic work. Political party regulars, he grasped, were losing their grip on the elctoral process. They were being replaced by ‘amateurs’ who believed ‘that principles, rather than interest, ought to be both the end and motive of political action.’ A half-century before and the Tea Party, he saw today’s hyper-partisan, hyper-ideological politics coming.”

“Wilson reminded his readers that no one had ‘used the power of patronage more ruthlessly than Abraham Lincoln,’ and that ‘no one relied more heavily on big-city machines than Franklin D. Roosevelt.’ But even in his preface to the second edition in 1966, he eschewed any purpose for the book save understanding the situation for what it was: ‘This book is about the functions of political parties…. [I]t is not about municipal reform, good government, the honest ballot, or public policy.’ He hoped that ‘in time’ he would learn ‘not to be irritated’ by people who insisted that he take a stand for or against ‘reform.'”
John J. DiIulio, Jr. (2012)