I’m reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States while I’m here in Paris. I’m reading it more critically than I did a few years ago, but there’s still some great stuff in there that pushes my buttons pretty hard. Here’s a bit talking about Jacksonian politics in the 1830s:
“The two-party system came into its own in this time. To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them, in a period of rebellion, to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control. Like so much in the American system, it was not devilishly contrived by some master plotters; it developed naturally out of the needs of the system.”
Update: I fixed a typo in Zinn’s quotation that changed the entire meaning of it (I had previously omitted the “not” in the last sentence). Thx to Nathaniel for catching the mistake. The people responsible for the error have been sacked.