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Quiet Revolution

Quiet Revolution: Struggle for the Democratic Party & Shaping of Post-Reform Politi

Copyright Date: 1983
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 628
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  • Book Info
    Quiet Revolution
    Book Description:

    This is the story of a revolution without fanfare, a hidden struggle for party reform that produced a new era in national politics. From this struggle emerged the greatest deliberately planned and centrally imposed change in the mechanics of delegate selection, and hence presidential nomination, in all of American history. The success of this revolution heralded the arrival of new political coalitions that would alter the very character of presidential politics, from campaign organization to grass-roots participation.

    The battle for reform raged within the Democratic party from 1968 to 1972, although it would quickly affect the Republican party as well. It was intense, intricate-and nearly invisible. Yet its chronicle is essential background for political practitioners, professional commentators, and interested citizens alike. And it is the basis for understanding the subsequent course of national politics and the current shape of presidential politics.

    Quiet Revolutionprovides the first definitive account of this struggle for reform, an account that is at once modern political history and an illuminating analysis of contemporary American politics. Based on candid interviews with numerous key participants and on extensive archival material, this compelling narrative offers the fascination of political maneuvers closely observed, the drama of momentous events unfolding, and the challenge of a new politics newly interpreted.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-689-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. INTRODUCTION The Hidden Struggle: Reform Politics, Institutional Change, and the Circulation of Elites, 1968–1972
    (pp. 3-10)

    ON JANUARY 24, 1972, Iowa Democrats assembled in local precinct meetings to begin selecting a state delegation to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. In doing so, they inaugurated a new era in American presidential politics. The handful among the eligibles who turned out in a gradually intensifying snowstorm are not likely to enter the history books for their political clairvoyance. Their favorite, Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, was to be knocked from the nomination race almost exactly three months after they offered him his initial delegate support. But by virtue of their January date for delegate selection, Iowa Democrats...

  4. PART I The Politics of Recommendation

    • CHAPTER 1 The Idea of a Reform Commission: The McCarthy Campaign and the “Mandate”
      (pp. 13-40)

      THERE IS no shortage of major events, or even of grand historical trends, which surely helped to shape the environment for conflict over party reform in the period from 1968 to 1972. But if political analysts are content to start at the point where specific recommendations for reform, which became the direct antecedents of sweeping institutional change, began to acquire organized elite support, their task becomes considerably easier. Under those conditions, the presidential nominating reforms which bore their first fruit when Iowa Democrats boosted Edmund Muskie at their local precinct caucuses in January of 1972 had their roots in a...

    • CHAPTER 2 A Politics of Party Reform: The Humphrey Campaign and The Party Structure Commission
      (pp. 41-76)

      BETWEEN AUGUST of 1968 and February of 1969, the Democratic party moved from a national convention in which the regular party had stoutly—perhaps too stoutly—defended itself against party insurgents, to an official party commission which charged surrogates for those very insurgents with reforming the regular party. During five and a half months of nearly invisible maneuvering, the entire party was propelled in a new direction, with a destination unknown even to those who helped establish this portentous new course.

      The Democratic National Convention of 1968 was an eminently forgettable experience for nearly everyone. The reform resolutions which slipped...

    • CHAPTER 3 An Institutionalized Bias for Reform Politics: A Statement of Purpose and an Executive Committee
      (pp. 77-100)

      THE FORMAL APPOINTMENT of the Party Structure Commission allowed anyone with enough interest to make a personal guess about the future course of reform politics. Many must have done so. But two opposing groups made estimates which would themselves acquire major, direct consequences for the subsequent politics of party reform. First were the militant reformers, whose perceptions, perhaps surprisingly, were initially quite negative. Second was organized labor, with equally negative perceptions and an equally consequential response.

      The reformers were obviously in the best position to act on these initial impressions. They were collectively focused on commission appointments; they included several...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Definition of Party Reform: The Staff in Commission Politics
      (pp. 101-132)

      THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTER of the reform recommendations from the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection was determined during the summer of 1969 by elements of the commission staff and not during the fall of 1969 when the full commission met to address staff proposals. The small, internal, political environment within which these proposals were developed thus gained a historical interest all its own. The recommendations emanating from this environment were destined to revolutionize delegate selection and presidential nomination—and thus to gain a more obvious and extended significance.

      The Party Structure Commission had no immediate occasion, as a body,...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Internal Debate on Party Reform: The Commissioners in Commission Politics
      (pp. 133-160)

      BETWEEN late August and late November of 1969, the Party Structure commissioners, as a group, finally entered the politics of recommendation. In three preliminary working sessions and one final historic meeting, they adopted official recommendations for reform of the process of delegate selection, and hence presidential nomination—and hencepresidentialselection as well. A meeting of the Executive Committee on August 28, a second meeting of the Executive Committee on September 11, and a two-day session of the full commission on September 23 and 24 were the organizational prelude to the full commission sessions of November 19 and 20, where...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Content of the Mandate: A Final Meeting and a Reform Text
      (pp. 161-193)

      THE Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection reassembled on November 19, 1969, for a two-day assault on the remaining issues in its drive toward a comprehensive statement on party rules reform. That session, which began shortly after 9:00 on Thursday morning, stretched through the late afternoon of the following day. It reached the final collective decisions on commission guidelines for delegate selection. In the process, it capped the most thorough effort at recommendations for party reform in the history of the world’s oldest continuing political party.

      By intention, this meeting was to frame a final reform text for the...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Meaning of the Mandate: Formal Rules and Practical Effects
      (pp. 194-213)

      WHEN the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection adjourned in the late afternoon of Friday, November 20, it left in its wake an undifferentiated trail of major and minor actions, touching nearly every aspect of delegate selection in the national Democratic party and culminating in the largest planned change in presidential selection in American history. Press accounts tended to obscure this fact, by concentrating on items of conflict rather than consensus, by seeking out opposing views of commission accomplishments, and by abjuring systematic analysis of the total package.¹ But when the individual texts embodying these various actions were examined...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Promulgation of Party Reform: Compliance Letters and a Published Report
      (pp. 214-238)

      THE PERIOD between late November of 1969 and late April of 1970 saw the final product of the Party Structure Commission converted into various official communications and presented to the various audiences which would be critical to its impact. As such, this period became the inevitable transition between the politics of recommendation and the politics of implementation. On the day after the final drafting session of the commission, on November 21, 1969, the remaining commission leadership and staff were still clearly focused on what would be the denouement of the politics of recommendation. On the day after publication of the...

  5. PART II The Politics of Implementation

    • CHAPTER 9 The Mandate at the National Level: The National Chairman and the Commission Report
      (pp. 241-268)

      A SHORT but convoluted struggle over the naming of a successor to Fred Harris, and the elaboration of a strategy for party reform by the winner of that struggle, were the first major events in the politics of implementation. The politics of recommendation had begun to achieve an institutional focus with the selection of one national chairman. The politics of implementation began to achieve its institutional focus with the selection of another. Unlike his predecessor, however, this second chairman entered a political world in which a major reform report already existed, in published and disseminated form. Accordingly, the development of...

    • CHAPTER 10 The Mandate at the State Level: The State Parties and the Commission Report
      (pp. 269-294)

      BY THE TIME Larry O’Brien had been installed as national chairman, the politics of party reform had already begun to move out toward the individual states and away from a focus at one central, national site. Indeed, the maneuvers surrounding the return of O’Brien and his development of a first approach to the reform issue were the last, major, nationally focused events in reform politics until early 1971. In the interim, the politics of implementation was composed of autonomous developments in the fifty-five state, district, and territorial parties. It was composed of jockeying among institutional actors at the national level...

    • CHAPTER 11 Reform as an Ideology: The Elections of 1970 and the Functions of the Mandate
      (pp. 295-319)

      THROUGHOUT the summer and into the fall of 1970, there was visible motion on national calls for state party reform. Volunteer parties, in particular, showed a general acceptance of the argument that some deliberate change was inescapable. By the same token, there were few unambiguous portents of the fate of these developments, when summed for the national party as a whole. Organized parties, in particular, rather clearly didnotaccept the notion that sweeping party reform was either logical or desirable. By fall, there had been several obvious breakthroughs, with a handful of states officially certified as being in full...

    • CHAPTER 12 The Politics of Implementation Writ Small: Pennsylvania Accepts Reform
      (pp. 320-340)

      THE ELEMENTS of reform politics established by the midterm elections of 1970 played out their impact in state after state as 1971 progressed. Some states featured one or another of these elements as the dominant influence. All states mixed them in locally varying proportions. Yet if some sample of these elements was at work in most states, they received perhaps their most striking expression in Pennsylvania. There, one of the strongest, old-fashioned, organized parties confronted all the reshuffled and augmented, proreform influences which followed the election of 1970.

      In that confrontation, the impact of shifting forces at the national level,...

    • CHAPTER 13 The Battle for Official Status: The Preliminary Call and the Fate of the Guidelines
      (pp. 341-366)

      WHILE the state developments triggered by the 1970 election were only beginning to unfold, the politics of party reform moved back to Washington for one short, sharp, explicitly national interlude. In early 1971, the National Committee assembled to address a Preliminary Call to the 1972 Convention. That Call inevitably contained an official, national policy on delegate selection. The process of framing that policy provided an unavoidable encounter between the regular party and the issue of party reform. To date, the National Committee, the highest continuing organ in the regular party structure, had been carefully and deliberately screened out of reform...

    • CHAPTER 14 Climax on the National Level: The National Committee and the Triumph of the Guidelines
      (pp. 367-395)

      IN A THREE-DAY PERIOD in February, 1971, the guidelines of the Party Structure Commission met their principal test before the National Committee. The Executive Committee assembled first, and its response became the new working draft of the Preliminary Call. The full committee assembled two days later, and its decisions became the specific content of that Preliminary Call, the official definition of party reform, and the concrete program of the Democratic party for institutional change at the state and national levels.

      Reform politics did not remain focused exclusively at the national level for much more than this three-day period. The National...

    • CHAPTER 15 The Debate over Implementation: State Compliance Politics and National Press Analysis
      (pp. 396-427)

      WITHIN HOURS of the National Committee meeting on the Preliminary Call, reform politics reverted to decentralized negotiations with the individual state parties, where it remained, on balance, for the next eight months. The immediate reality of that politics, as it had been for the eight months before the National Committee meeting, was a composite of dispersed and piecemeal but cumulatively impressive developments in the effort at implementation. This time, however, the national press essayed an interpretation of the progress of party reform, and its composite account, coming to a very different conclusion, gained a reality all its own—one which...

    • CHAPTER 16 The National Party Revisited: The Final Call and the Triumph of the Guidelines—Again
      (pp. 428-459)

      THE spring, summer, and early fall of 1971 was indeed the period when the fate of reform in the individual states was effectively resolved. Before this time, the pattern of reform activity did not conform unequivocally to any given interpretation. Afterward, the politics of implementation was largely a matter of “mopping up.” Two national events bracketed the period, giving it not just formal definition but practical, political shape. The first was the National Committee meeting of February 1971, the meeting which adopted the Preliminary Call. The second was the National Committee meeting of October 1971, the meeting which framed a...

    • CHAPTER 17 The Re-creation of Reform: The Women’s Caucus and Demographic Representation
      (pp. 460-491)

      THE National Committee meeting of October 12, 13, and 14 was a watershed in the politics of party reform. Most fundamentally, it marked the last, logical point for coordinated resistance by the state parties to sweeping demands for change in their internal arrangements. When that point passed without so much as the appearance of serious opposition, the success of institutional reform was guaranteed. In that sense, the October meeting was the final grand turning point in the entire reform chronicle.

      The meeting marked a lesser transition within the politics of implementation as well. In the months before this meeting, the...

    • CHAPTER 18 The Re-creation of Reform: The Party Structure Commission and Proportionality
      (pp. 492-522)

      THE REINTERPRETATION of Guidelines A–I and A–2—the retranslation of national requirements for demographic representation—had been externally generated. That reinterpretation had been elicited as a response to pressures from a new organization, the National Women’s Political Caucus, which had this change as a specific focus. The result, the coming of formal demographic quotas, had been officially recognized and codified. Yet the bulk of guideline revisions after passage of the Final Call possessed none of these characteristics.

      Instead, most of these revisions were internally generated, at the Party Structure Commission. Most were secured through bargaining between the commission...

  6. CONCLUSION Politics after Reform: Institutional Change and the Circulation of Elites, 1972–1984
    (pp. 523-540)

    IOWA DEMOCRATS opened the actual nomination contest when they began selecting their delegates to the 1972 Convention in local precinct meetings on January 24, 1972. In doing so, they reaffirmed the goal of democratically selecting a president, in a process which had been occurring quadrennially for almost two hundred years. In doing so, they inaugurated extensively reformed procedures for selecting a president, which mark the modern era in presidential, and party, politics.

    The surface details of the campaign which followed have been thoroughly recorded. Its actors, their encounters, and the strategies and tactics, issues and images, incidents and events along...

  7. Appendices, Acknowledgments, and Notes

    • APPENDIX A Summary of the Official Guidelines of the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection
      (pp. 541-545)
    • APPENDIX B Roster of Personal Interviews
      (pp. 546-550)
    • Acknowledgments and Methods
      (pp. 551-554)
    • NOTES
      (pp. 555-604)
  8. Index
    (pp. 605-618)