Archives for March 2012

6.5 million fill in brackets. How do you rank?

ESPN’s tournament challenge set the bracket record for entries this year–read the complete article here.

 

Ever wonder how your bracket measures up against, not only your co-workers in the office pool, but everyone else in the country? Each year, the ESPN Fantasy section on ESPN.com logs millions of brackets to its free-to-play Tournament Challenge game, now in its 15th year. This year, ESPN logged a new record 6.45 million brackets, 8.9 percent more than 2011. Everyone can check how their brackets are doing against their friends within a specific group, but only ESPN has an inside peek at the top brackets from around the country.

This is exactly how we have been using our own tournament pool to track the various mathematical methods used by students and others to fill out their brackets. March Mathness has been a lot of fun, but it turns out we’re not the only math nuts out there. John Diver, Senior Director of Product Development at ESPN Fantasy sounds pretty mathy too. Check out some of the stats that he can pull from the pool of brackets:

After the brackets are announced on Selection Sunday, the tool goes beyond the public-facing “National Bracket” and “Who Picked Whom” pages to search different combinations of predictions. For example, we can determine what percentage of overall brackets have all the No. 1 seeds for each round up to the Final Four.

(97.7%) predicted Kentucky and Syracuse and Michigan State and North Carolina to advance to the Round of 32;
(67.9%) predicted all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Sweet Sixteen
(28.3%) predicted all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Elite Eight
(4.3%) predicted all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four

We just posted a Q&A with two former March Mathness winners — their bracket was ranked 834 in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge and was in the top 100th percentile (hard to beat 100%) so these math methods do work. What do you think, will you be using math to fill in your bracket next year?

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “When Tipu Sultan attacked Travancore, a British ally, in 1789, it led to war with the East India Company. For two years, Tipu held his own against the British forces until Charles, Lord Cornwallis, laid siege to Tipu’s capital. Hostilities were ended in 1792 by the Treaty of Srirangapattana, in which Tipu surrendered half his territories, paid thirty million rupees, and handed over two of his sons—Abdul Khaliq, age eight, and Muiz-ud-din, age five—as hostages to the British.”

The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power
by Partha Chatterjee

When Siraj, the ruler of Bengal, overran the British settlement of Calcutta in 1756, he allegedly jailed 146 European prisoners overnight in a cramped prison. Of the group, 123 died of suffocation. While this episode was never independently confirmed, the story of “the black hole of Calcutta” was widely circulated and seen by the British public as an atrocity committed by savage colonial subjects. The Black Hole of Empire follows the ever-changing representations of this historical event and founding myth of the British Empire in India, from the eighteenth century to the present. Partha Chatterjee explores how a supposed tragedy paved the ideological foundations for the “civilizing” force of British imperial rule and territorial control in India.

Chatterjee takes a close look at the justifications of modern empire by liberal thinkers, international lawyers, and conservative traditionalists, and examines the intellectual and political responses of the colonized, including those of Bengali nationalists. The two sides of empire’s entwined history are brought together in the story of the Black Hole memorial: set up in Calcutta in 1760, demolished in 1821, restored by Lord Curzon in 1902, and removed in 1940 to a neglected churchyard. Challenging conventional truisms of imperial history, nationalist scholarship, and liberal visions of globalization, Chatterjee argues that empire is a necessary and continuing part of the history of the modern state.

“This is a powerfully argued account of the origins and subsequent justification of British rule in India, and an exploration of the response by Bengali elites to colonialism. A work of classic history, this book carries an intellectual power and brilliance of insight that will excite much interest and comment.”—Thomas Metcalf, professor emeritus of history, University of California, Berkeley

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9756.pdf

Q & A with Colin Stephenson and Neil Goodson

In 2008, Davidson College seniors, Colin Stephenson and Neil Goodson, used math to fill in their bracket and ended up ranking in the 100th percentile at a rank position of 834 in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge. Read about their experience below.

 

Q: What class were you taking when you created your brackets? How did the idea of creating brackets with math algorithms arise?

Neil: The original research project came out of an elective course I took that focused on topics in operations research, which is an area of mathematics that focuses on the application of mathematics to solving complex problems in the real world problems.  The class was a small group of graduate and undergraduate students, and we were all guided by the professor, Amy Langville.  Knowing that Colin and I had an interest in sports, Amy encouraged us to conduct our research for the class in the area of sports ranking.  Amy had already put effort in this topic as well as previous students, so we had tremendous resources available to us and were able to hit the ground running.

Colin: Our assignment was to use algorithms to solve real world problems.  Amy recommended sports ranking models to us.  It sounded perfect to combine one of our favorite sports, college basketball, and math.

 

Q: How did you break down tasks in your work?

Neil: The research project started in January at the onset of the Spring semester, so we had just a few months before March Madness began.  Our research process required us to study existing methods, apply them to various past seasons and the current one, discuss results with our class and see how we can improve upon existing methods.  Colin and I quickly learned to divide tasks to our strengths.  I would spend time coding certain methods, and Colin would backtest previous year’s data.  Both of use would scramble to present results to our classmates and professor each week.  The class was structured so we could all brainstorm collectively on where to head next and that helped us move forward with our project.

Colin: First we wanted to understand current ranking models.  Some were already being used in sports and others were being used for ranking things other than sports.  Neil and I also thought of factors we considered to favor teams to go further in the tournament.  We wanted to find ways to incorporate our own ideas as amatuer braketologists into our models.  We decided to focus on weighting win/loss records depending on when they were played before the tournament.  We both feel strongly that wins and losses in late February and March mean much more than those in November through January.  The “hot” teams going into the single elimination tournament usually seem to go further.

 

Q: Did you create one bracket or several?

Neil: We created several brackets.  We wanted to test various weighting schemes for each rating method.  For example, we had several variations of the Massey method and several others for the Markov method.  In total, I believe we tested over 30 brackets for that tournament.

Colin: We created 30 or more brackets.  We also tested them against the 4 previous years’ results in the NCAA tournament.

 

Q: Can you describe which methods were successful? Did you have a sense of which would be most successful?

Neil: The most successful results were the methods that placed more weight on games occurring later in the season.  Most sports fans would agree that this is a no brainer.  What is interesting though is that we found that you can place too much weight on the end of the season as well.  If you were to emphasize the conference championships in a model for instance, you probably would not do very well.  So there is a trade-off between teams that have played well consistently throughout the season and ones that have positive momentum going into the post-season play.

Colin: The Colley and Ken Massey models that we weighted logarithmically worked the best for us, exponential weighting also worked well.  We thought those models would work well because they were already used in sport ranking.  We also thought that log and exponential weight would be best because the games closer to the end of the season get gradually more important than the last.  They also did the best while testing previous years.

 

Q: What data went into making your predictions? scores? dates? anything else?

Neil: Our rating methods took into account each head-to-head match-up in Division I basketball, the point spread for each of those games, and when they were played.  Strength of schedule also played an important factor for some of the methods. The major differences arose between the mathematical techniques used to rank the teams given this vast web of conference and non-conference match-ups throughout the season.

 

Q: What kind of excitement did you experience during the tournament? Were you ever on a leaderboard? What did it feel like to be in such a high percentile?

Colin: The tournament excitement was awesome.  After all our preparation and work we were able to sit back and watch basketball for a couple weeks.  When Neil went on NPR the morning before the first games he told them a couple upsets our models were showing.  I think all the ones he told ended up happening.  It was also great to go on national live tv on the CBS Early Show.  We were live on the Davidson campus the night they were playing Kansas.  When we let them know we had Kansas winning it all, then we got boo’d out of the building.  The best models were in the 100th percentile on espn.com.  They were doing better than any bracket I had ever put together myself.  They were also beating all of my friends, so I had bragging rights with them.  Kansas ended up winning in the last seconds of the championship.  Neil and I went crazy when it ended the way it did, one last second missed shot and we would have been well out of the 100th percentile.

Neil: I have always enjoyed March Madness every Spring, but working on this project brought the excitement to a whole new level.  After spending so much time in the lab crunching the data, I couldn’t help but constantly check how each model was performing when each tournament game ended.  Since we submitted all of our brackets to the ESPN Challenge, we could instantly get a sense of how each stood compared to the 4+ plus other brackets out there.  For most of the tournament, our best models were consistently in the 95th percentile and we ultimately finished in the 99.9th percentile with our best models.  For me, it felt great to see the long hours of writing code, crunching data, and presenting research results payoff with winning brackets, but honestly even if we hadn’t been as successful, I would have enjoyed the project just as much.  In that case there would have been so much else to try.  I might never have wanted to graduate!

 

Q: Were you surprised about anything in the tournament? Were you surprised by how well or poorly certain methods performed? Were you surprised by the media attention you got?

Neil: Every year there are always upsets in the tournament, so of course some of those came as a surprise to me.  I was also surprised at how well we did in picking the upsets.  My feeling on upsets is that there are two kinds.  Some upsets happen truly because some teams are less recognized in their ability throughout the season.  Maybe it is because they are in smaller divisions or had a few notable losses and the pundits wrote them off.  Other upsets happen because the best team had a bad day, but if they were to play the same team again, would probably win.  I think the algorithms do a good job handling the first type of upset.  I am not sure anyone can do well consistently picking the second.

I was definitely surprised by the media attention.  When I heard that there may be some media interest in our story, I was thinking we may get a write up in the local paper.  I was shocked when I had a voicemail from a producer at NPR and then the CBS Early Show.

 

Q: So far, no one has ever submitted a perfect bracket to the ESPN Challenge. Do you think this is possible, at least for a math algorithm?

Colin: I bet someone will eventually get a perfect bracket one day.  It would take a lot of luck for them.  I would like to think we could use math to get a perfect bracket, but it would also take a lot of luck.  A lot comes down to the fact the NCAA selection committee puts together the bracket on Selection Sunday.  The rest is about the unpredictabilty of the human element.  The unpredictability is what draws so many people to watch the tournament.

Neil: It is just as possible for an algorithm as it is for any human being.  Without a doubt, it will take a tremendous amount of luck for either.  That is what makes March Madness so much fun.

 

Q: Have you tried making brackets in subsequent years? How did the methods do? Did you make any changes?

Neil:  I have continued to use the models in subsequent tournaments and they have continued to do well.  Well enough to win a pool here and there.  I have been using the same methods we used in 2008.  I would love to continue to tinker with them, but there is never enough time.

Colin: We have used our best performers every year since then.  The following year my dad, uncles, aunts, brothers, coworkers all wanted a copy of the magical bracket.  Of course I gave them out, and of course it failed miserably.  The next year I kept it to myself, and I won my office pool.  Last year I gave it out to everyone who asked, and it bombed again.  So this year, it will be kept a secret again.

Check out Robert Shiller on CNBC’s Squawk Box earlier this week

With the kickoff of Robert Shiller’s book tour this week, on Monday he appeared on the influential business talk show Squawk Box on CNBC to discuss FINANCE AND THE GOOD SOCIETY. It’s a very informative and entertaining interview so take a look!

Robert Shiller talking about FINANCE AND THE GOOD SOCIETY on TheStreet.com

Robert Shiller is doing the media rounds this week for his new book FINANCE AND THE GOOD SOCIETY. He chatted the other day with Gregg Greenberg at TheStreet.com about the book, the housing bubble, and Goldman Sachs. Check it out!

Bringing Plants to People — Introducing Wildflower Wednesday

Carol Gracie’s new book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast truly is a book that hearkens back to a much earlier era of natural history writing. She has not written a nuts to bolts identification guide to every single species you might happen across — instead, she has selected the 35 or so most likely suspects and presents them in a holistic, complete way. Gorgeous photographs spill color over the page, the text meanders from identification tips to medicinal uses to culture and folklore.

Carol recently wrote a post for ArtPlantae in which she describes how she “brings plants to people” (perhaps also people to plants as she describes enticing children to play with their subjects — tearing petals and stems as they explore).

Of the new book she writes:

I hope to reach a larger audience with my latest book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History. In it I have included details about the lives of 35 plus wildflower species that have interested me over the years. As a photographer I’ve spent long hours in the field plant watching, and in the process learning about the plants’ lives. Knowing what pollinates them, how they reproduce, what eats them, etc. gives me a better understanding of how they fit into the environment and a deeper appreciation for their importance. It’s this information — from my own observations and that of many others — which I have written about in the book. Although I am not an artist I feel that depicting some of these interactions would make drawing or painting the wildflowers more interesting, both for the artist and for the viewer of his/her artwork.

Happily you can read Chapter 1 of Carol’s book for free on our web site: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9668.pdf

Also, starting next week, we will celebrate Wildflower Wednesday with exclusive photographs and writing from Carol so check back again soon.

“A Modest Proposal” from Andrew Delbanco at the Huffington Post

If they had a broader, humanities-based education, would Goldman Sachs employees be less inclined to call their clients “muppets”? Or would they at the very least come up with a more eloquent put-down?

In this post at the Huffington Post, Andrew Delbanco wades into the fray. A brief excerpt here, but read the complete article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-delbanco/a-modest-proposal_9_b_1382791.html

Between Inside Job, Margin Call, and, most recently, Greg Smith’s public resignation from Goldman Sachs on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, business has been getting bad press of late — to put it mildly. The notion of business as a predatory world in which customers are helpless prey has gained traction on the right (the Tea Party) and the left (Occupy Wall Street). Many Americans in the middle find the description convincing.

Having spent my life in academia, which has its own problems, I can’t say whether business ethics have fallen to the extent that Mr. Smith claims. If so, it’s not the first time. Walt Whitman once denounced America’s “business classes” for their “depravity” and charged that their “sole object is, by any means, pecuniary gain.” That was nearly 150 years ago.

What I do know is that at the elite universities from which investment firms such as Goldman Sachs recruit much of their talent, most students are no longer seeking a broad liberal education. They want, above all, marketable skills in growth fields such as information technology. They study science, where the intellectual action is. They sign up for economics and business majors as avenues to the kind of lucrative career Mr. Smith enjoyed. Much is to be gained from these choices, for both individuals and society. But something is also at risk. Students are losing a sense of how human beings grappled in the past with moral issues that challenge us in the present and will persist into the future.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-delbanco/a-modest-proposal_9_b_1382791.html

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “Although Ronald Reagan was the preferred candidate of the American people in 1980 and 1984, he was also the least popular candidate to win the presidency in the period from 1952 to 1988.”

The Strategic President:
Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership

by George C. Edwards III

How do presidents lead? If presidential power is the power to persuade, why is there a lack of evidence of presidential persuasion? George Edwards, one of the leading scholars of the American presidency, skillfully uses this contradiction as a springboard to examine—and ultimately challenge—the dominant paradigm of presidential leadership. The Strategic President contends that presidents cannot create opportunities for change by persuading others to support their policies. Instead, successful presidents facilitate change by recognizing opportunities and fashioning strategies and tactics to exploit them.

Edwards considers three extraordinary presidents—Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan—and shows that despite their considerable rhetorical skills, the public was unresponsive to their appeals for support. To achieve change, these leaders capitalized on existing public opinion. Edwards then explores the prospects for other presidents to do the same to advance their policies. Turning to Congress, he focuses first on the productive legislative periods of FDR, Lyndon Johnson, and Reagan, and finds that these presidents recognized especially favorable conditions for passing their agendas and effectively exploited these circumstances while they lasted. Edwards looks at presidents governing in less auspicious circumstances, and reveals that whatever successes these presidents enjoyed also resulted from the interplay of conditions and the presidents’ skills at understanding and exploiting them.

The Strategic President revises the common assumptions of presidential scholarship and presents significant lessons for presidents’ basic strategies of governance.

“The book should be read and reread by occupants of the White House, as well as by students and scholars of the presidency.”—Brandice Canes-Wrone, Princeton University, Presidential Studies Quarterly

Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.

“On Compromise and Rotten Compromises” wins the Hannover Institute’s 2012 Philosophical Book Award

Avishai Margalit’s book On Compromise and Rotten Compromises has been awarded the 2012 Philosophical Book Award  from the Hannover Institute of Philosophical Research. This prize is awarded for “the best new book of the last three years referring to a controversial problem in practical philosophy.  The Philosophical Book Award is designed to shed some light on urgent philosophical questions and to improve efforts to answer them.”

On Compromise and Rotten Compromises deals with the topic of political compromise, in particular “rotten compromises” made in the name of peace. A great read in the run-up to election season!

This Week’s Book Giveaway

Kentucky vs. Louisville. Kansas vs. Ohio State. In honor of the Final Four, we have a March Madness-inspired giveaway for you:

Who’s #1?: The Science of Rating and Ranking
by Amy N. Langville & Carl D. Meyer

A website’s ranking on Google can spell the difference between success and failure for a new business. NCAA football ratings determine which schools get to play for the big money in postseason bowl games. Product ratings influence everything from the clothes we wear to the movies we select on Netflix. Ratings and rankings are everywhere, but how exactly do they work? Who’s #1? offers an engaging and accessible account of how scientific rating and ranking methods are created and applied to a variety of uses.

Amy Langville and Carl Meyer provide the first comprehensive overview of the mathematical algorithms and methods used to rate and rank sports teams, political candidates, products, Web pages, and more. In a series of interesting asides, Langville and Meyer provide fascinating insights into the ingenious contributions of many of the field’s pioneers. They survey and compare the different methods employed today, showing why their strengths and weaknesses depend on the underlying goal, and explaining why and when a given method should be considered. Langville and Meyer also describe what can and can’t be expected from the most widely used systems.

The science of rating and ranking touches virtually every facet of our lives, and now you don’t need to be an expert to understand how it really works. Who’s #1? is the definitive introduction to the subject. It features easy-to-understand examples and interesting trivia and historical facts, and much of the required mathematics is included.

“Langville and Meyer provide a rigorous yet lighthearted tour through the landscape of ratings methodologies. This is an enjoyable read that looks at ratings through the lens of sports, but also touches on how ratings affect our everyday lives through movies, Web search, online shopping, and other applications.”—Chris Volinsky, member of the winning Netflix Prize team

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9661.pdf

Don’t miss our March Mathness blog: http://blog.press.princeton.edu/march-mathness/

The random draw for this book with be Friday 3/30 at 3 pm EST. Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook if you haven’t already to be entered to win!

SOULED OUT Revisited: Rick Santorum and the Future of the Religious Right

A few years back, the award-winning journalist and commentator, E.J. Dionne, Jr published Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right, detailing why he thought the era of the Religious Right — and the exploitation of faith for political advantage — was drawing to a close. Recently he reflected on the 2012 election season, how religious conservatism has evolved, the role of Rick Santorum, and to what extent he thinks the religious right’s rise to power has been a generational phenomenon. Read his post after the jump:

 


 

Souled Out Revisited: Rick Santorum and the Future of the Religious Right

E.J. Dionne, Jr.

 

Writing four years ago in Souled Out, I offered this rather bold thought: “The era of the religious right is over. Its collapse is part of a larger decline of a style of ideological conservatism that reached high points in 1980 and 1994 but suffered a series of decisive — and I believe fatal — setbacks during George W. Bush’s second term.”

As if in reply to me, and to many others who wrote along these lines during and after the 2008 election, David Gibson, the thoughtful writer on religious matters, put this headline on his  March 14, 2012 Religious News Service article: “Santorum shows the Religious Right isn’t dead yet.” Gibson went on to write:

      If [Rick] Santorum finds a way to beat [Mitt] Romney — not to mention beat Obama in November — it would be an unprecedented boost for the Religious Right.

     Outcomes, however, are almost as irrelevant as they are unpredictable. Even if Santorum finishes second to Romney, his successes so far have made his point, and ensured that Christian conservatives cannot be ignored — and their leaders have to be heeded.

So which is it: Is the Religious Right dead or alive?

First, I’ll begin by acknowledging that religious conservatism is electorally stronger than I expected it to be four years after Barack Obama’s victory. My operating assumption has been that just as the Great Depression put an end to the dominance of our politics in the 1920s by cultural and religious concerns (e.g., Prohibition and Al Smith’s Catholicism), so would the Great Recession usher in a period in which more secular and practical concerns would dominate the public debate.

In the longer run, I still believe this to be true. As I’ll be arguing in a moment, the fact that religious conservatism remains an important force inside the Republican Party does not mean its strength is growing outside Republican ranks. In fact (and here I am holding on to my prediction), religious conservatism continues to grow weaker everywhere except inside the G.O.P., in significant part because the Millennial generation, whose influence in politics is destined to grow, holds views quite at odds with those of the religious right. A telling example: if religious conservatives were truly still in the ascendency, the gay rights movement would not have made the progress it enjoyed over the last four years.

And the Republican presidential contest itself presents something of a mixed picture. That Mitt Romney maintains a big delegate lead and is the most likely of the four remaining candidates to win the nomination speaks to the limits of the power of the Religious Right. Romney, who would become the first Mormon president in our history were he elected, has been held back from talking about his own faith by a desire not to stir up anti-Mormon feeling. But if Romney does win the nomination, it suggests that the religious conservatives do not enjoy a veto power over the identity of the nominee (something John McCain’s nomination in 2008 had already shown).

That said, Santorum’s strength shows that the religious conservatives were neither wiped out by the 2008 election nor displaced as a Republican force by the Tea Party. It’s significant that Santorum’s ability to win a primary or caucus rested largely on the share of the vote cast in any given contest by white evangelicals. Of the 16 states that have had exit or entrance polls, Santorum has carried five. In those five states, the share of the electorate that described itself as evangelical or “born again” averaged 69 percent. Romney carried nine of those states — and in the Romney states, the evangelical share averaged only 33 percent. (Newt Gingrich carried two states, South Carolina and Georgia both with an evangelical share of 64 percent.) There is a clear religious divide in the G.O.P.

And the failure of the Tea Party to displace the Religious Right owes to the fact that many members of the Tea Party are also religious conservatives. A survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute before the 2010 elections found that 47 percent of those who considered themselves part of the Tea Party movement also identified as part of the Religious Right or the Christian Conservative movement. The attitudes of Tea Party members were even more closely in line with those of religious conservatives; for example, two-thirds of Tea Party members said that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. The Tea Party, in short, never became a full-blown alternative to the religious conservative movement. For many conservatives, it was simply an additional vehicle for political action.

So in one sense, David Gibson’s observation is quite correct: the Religious Right did not suddenly disintegrate and it remains an important force in the Republican Party. But in the long run, I remain persuaded that its power peaked during the Bush years and will recede over time. That’s because the Religious Right is a generational phenomenon – its supporters are older Americans, even as younger Americans strongly resist its approach both to religious matters and to public concerns. And its power in the GOP primaries reflects the fact that Republican voters are substantially older than the nation as a whole, and older also than the general electorate.

Writing in National Journal, Ron Brownstein noted that in “12 of the 16 states where exit polls have been conducted, voters over 50 cast at least 60 percent of the GOP primary votes; in the other four, they represented at least 55 percent of the vote.”  Religious conservatism is more likely to be yesterday’s movement than tomorrow’s.

There are other arguments in Souled Out that bear on our current politics, notably the battle inside the Catholic Church between liberals and an increasingly powerful conservative wing. (Rather than make an already long blog longer, I’d note that I have written about these issues in recent Washington Post columns — click here and here for examples.)  The controversy over the contraception mandate suggests that religious concerns are never far from the surface of American politics. And that’s why I continue to insist on the larger argument I made four years ago: Religion will continue to flow in and around American politics as long as we remain a free society in which a large number of our citizens remain people of faith. Conservatives need to be more open to the idea that faith will lead many Americans in liberal and progressive directions. Liberals need to be more open to the idea that religion will inevitably play a large role in our politics — and that this is not something to be feared.

E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, a regular political analyst on National Public Radio, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a professor at Georgetown University. His books include the best-selling Why Americans Hate Politics (Simon & Schuster), which won the Los Angeles Times book prize and was nominated for the National Book Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check your References — Antiparty Sentiment

As part of Election 101, we are posting exclusive content from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History on subjects related to Election 2012.

What is the history of antiparty sentiment in America? Stuart M. Blumin offers some insight into the origins of antiparty sentiment from our Founding Fathers to present day in this short excerpt.

Hostility toward the political party has been an important dimension of American culture from the earliest days of the republic. During the first three or four decades following the adoption of the Constitution, antiparty sentiment derived primarily from the central tenets of classical republican theory, as this ancient body of thought was developed and reshaped by British political philosophers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Particularly important were two related concepts: that effective and just government flows from the decisions of virtuous leaders pursuing the public good rather than their own or others’ private interests; and that the political influence of those interests and interest groups that do emerge within society must be transitory and contained, so that no single interest acquires enduring power over all others and over the republic as a whole.

Read the complete article here: http://blog.press.princeton.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2Political-Parties.Antiparty-Sentiment.pdf

 

The preceding is an excerpt from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History, edited by Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, and Adam Rothman. To learn more about this book, please visit http://press.princeton.edu. Copyright © 2011 by Princeton University Press. No part of this text may be distributed, posted, or reproduced in any form by digital or mechanical means without prior written permission of the publisher.