In Defense of Partisanship

In Defense of Partisanship

Partisanship is a dirty word in American politics. If there is one issue on which almost everyone in our divided country seems to agree, it’s the belief that the intense loyalty within the electorate toward Democrats and Republicans is the source of our democratic ills—division, dysfunction, distrust, and disinformation. The possibilities that responsible partisanship can offer were at the heart of an important intellectual tradition that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s, one which was institutionalized through a sweeping set of congressional reforms in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Defense of Partisanship reimagines what partisanship might look like going forward from today. A new era of party-oriented reforms has the potential to pay respect to the deep differences that divide us while simultaneously creating a more functional path on which two responsible political parties compete to shape policy while still being able to govern.

Read CGR Director Nicholas Lemann’s Letter to the Reader

In Defense of Partisanship
  • ISBN: 9798987053683
  • Price: $18.00
  • E-book ISBN: 9798987053690
  • On Sale: January 14, 2025


“This book is instantly essential. Too many commentators bewail our hyperpartisan politics. Julian Zelizer does something much better—he explores the long and fascinating history of America’s political parties, explains the current moment, and offers a road map back to sanity.” —Ted Widmer, author of Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington

“Contravening conventional wisdom, Zelizer offers a spirited defense of parties and partisanship. Rather than futile attempts to reverse polarization, In Defense of Partisanship advocates for political and institutional reforms to channel partisan impulses toward more democratically accountable policymaking.” —Frances Lee, professor of politics and public Affairs, Princeton University

About the author

Julian Zelizer
© Zoran Jelenic

Julian E. Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN Political Analyst. He is the author and editor of numerous books, most recently Myth America and Burning Down the House. He lives in New York City.