May 22, 2018

VSU’s Bernard Tamas Offers New Perspective on American Third Parties in Latest Book

VALDOSTA — Dr. Bernard Tamas, assistant professor of political science at Valdosta State University, has published a book titled “The Demise and Rebirth of American Third Parties: Poised for Political Revival?”

“Virtually all academic books on American third parties in the last half-century assume that they have largely disappeared,” according to a description from Routledge, the book’s publisher. “This book challenges that orthodoxy by explaining the temporary decline of third parties, demonstrating through the latest evidence that they are enjoying a resurgence, and arguing that they are likely to once again play a significant role in American politics.

“The book is based on a wealth of data, including district-level results from United States House of Representatives elections since 1870, state-level election laws after the Civil War, and recent district-level election results from Australia, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom.” 

Tamas said his motivation for writing “The Demise and Rebirth of American Third Parties: Poised for Political Revival?” came from discovering, through years of research, that many major theories on American third parties were wrong. 

“For scholars who think they know why we have a two-party system, this book is throwing a monkey wrench into it,” he explained. “A lot of people who are interested in third parties are consistently told, ‘No, they don’t matter.’ That’s the usual political science reaction. But if you actually look at the evidence more carefully, they do matter, and the amount that they matter has been going up over the last few decades.”

“What we’re seeing now is this rising political polarization,” he added. “That’s making people feel less and less represented by the two major parties. It’s creating a situation that’s much more conducive for third parties.” 

Reviews say Tamas’ book is “highly innovative,” includes “stunning scholarship” and “insightful observation,” and makes “a fresh and compelling case.”

“The Demise and Rebirth of American Third Parties: Poised for Political Revival?” is Tamas’ fourth published book. His other works cover Hungarian politics, social policy, and the administration of President George W. Bush. 

Tamas, who joined VSU in 2014, teaches American politics and research methodology. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in political science from Rutgers University. His research interests are primarily in political parties, electoral systems, and research methodology.

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