The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic

The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic

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ISBN: 978-1-4128-4745-2
Pages: 552
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 06-27-2012
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In this stimulating volume, Stephen M. Krason considers whether the Founding Fathers’ vision of the American democratic republic has been transformed and if so, in what ways. He looks to the basic principles of the Founding Fathers, then discusses the changes that resulted from evolving contemporary expectations about government. Referencing philosophical principles and the work of great Western thinkers, Krason then explores a variety of proposals that could forge a foundation for restoration.

Acknowledging that any attempt to revive the Founders’ views on a democratic republic must start in the public sphere, Krason focuses on concerned citizens who are aware of the extent to which our current political structures deviate from the Founders’ vision and want to take action. Ultimately, a democratic republic can exist, be sustained, and flourish only when there is a deep commitment to it in the minds and norms of its people.

Written by a foremost authority in the field of US Constitutional law, this book will appeal to those interested in American history, society, and politics.

Editorial Reviews

“Krason’s analysis builds upon two key questions: ‘To what degree are the principles of the Founding Fathers either maintained or changed?’ And, ‘To what degree does the surrounding culture either support or oppose the original vision?’ Coupling a historical overview with a sociopolitical analysis of specific periods in American history, Krason identifies pivotal historical events in each era that helped lead to what he calls the ‘transformation’ of our democratic republic.”

—Anne Hendershott, Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity

“This book is on the durability of the design and intent of the American democratic republic. It is a study from the Founding to the present on a developmental theme that shows basic constitutional elements, their expansion, contraction, refinement, evolution, and misdirection over two-plus centuries. . . . The book considers the American Constitution in the classical sense of a constitution, as more than just a single document or a few closely related documents.”

—John (Jack) Schrems, The Review of Politics

“There is a long list of positive things to say about Stephen Krason’s impressive survey of the fortunes and present condition of the American Democratic Republic. . . . Krason’s presentation of the principles, which, although somewhat complicated, is fully justified by the complexity of the actual historical reality he is trying to reconstruct. . . . The dramatic departure from founding principles that Krason documents is supported by ample historical evidence that is beyond dispute. . . . This book should be widely read and its exhortations widely heeded.”

—Kevin Schmiesing, Catholic Social Science Review

“In The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic, Krason demonstrates a masterly command of the facts of American history and of many complementary academic disciplines used to interpret that empirical reality . . . His accounting of American history is presented as humanely possible and the educated reader can easily disentangle interpretation from the mere facts of the matter.”

—Joseph A. Varacalli,

The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic is an impressive and scholarly study by distinguished political scientist Dr. Stephen Krason. . . . With a masterful command of historical material, the author pinpoints the eras which saw an accelerated decline of American political and cultural life and he positively asserts that Catholics applying Catholic Social doctrine can have a special role in helping to restore the American Republic. A superb political and cultural analysis, it is highly recommended.”

—James Likoudis, Lay Witness

“Krason’s The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic is a valuable account of how the American political system has declined . . . Krason has not written a polemic, but a serious and well-documented analysis of the cultural roots of our political problems. This book is in the tradition of Tocqueville and Orestes Brownson and needs to be given careful study.”

—Dr. Ryan J. Barilleaux, Miami University, Ohio

“Krason offers a thorough and objective account of American history from the Founding to the present day. Documenting the transformation of the American democratic republic from the perspective of constitutional law, political theory, and political sociology, he presents a compelling and provocative argument regarding the causes of the transformation and decline of American civic life. Transformation of the American Democratic Republic will be of interest to scholars and public spirited citizens who are troubled by the loss of our political heritage and searching for a means to stem the tide.”

—Dr. Cecilia R. Castillo, Texas State University-San Marcos

“The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic surveys a wide landscape and is an excellent source for those seeking a broad history of American political, economic, and cultural development.”

—Joseph Postell, Public Discourse

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Table of Contents


Introduction: The Aim of This Study

Chapter 1       America’s “Parchment Regime”: The Original Character of the American Democratic Republic and the 
                      Culture Supporting It
Chapter 2       1789-1817: The Formative Years, The Federalist Party Era, and Jeffersonianism
Chapter 3       1817-1840: The Eras of “Good Feelings” and Jacksonian Democracy
Chapter 4       1840-1877: Expansion, Sectionalism, the Civil War, and Reconstruction
Chapter 5       1877-1920: The Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, and World War I
Chapter 6       1920-1945: The “Roaring Twenties,” the Great Depression, and World War II
Chapter 7       1945-1960: Post-World War II America and the Cold War
Chapter 8       1960-1980: The Welfare State, Cultural Upheaval, and the Reign and Decline of Liberalism
Chapter 9       1980-Present: The Upsurge of Conservatism, Economic Transformation, and Post-Cold War America
Chapter 10     Analysis and Conclusion: How and Why the American Democratic Republic Has Been Transformed

Selected Bibliography