American Political Parties as Transnational Parties
American Political Parties as Transnational Parties Michael Read, Ph.D.Director: John Kenneth White, Ph.D.This dissertation examines the development and historical foundations of the transnational activities of American political parties. Although there has been a lack of study in this area, American political parties do now have permanent transnational activity. This activity follows two distinct tracks. First, beginning with the 1964 election, the parties launched their abroad committees to gather votes of eligible absentee voters overseas. For this track, special attention is paid to the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections, particularly the overseas fundraising and campaigning in the 2008 cycle. Second, beginning in 1982, American parties began to conduct outreach with their like-minded colleagues. They joined, or aided in the creation of, party internationals. Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy that, in turn, funded party-themed institutes to provide democratic development assistance to counter the influence of another major transnational movement, Soviet-backed Communism. This dissertation argues these transnational activities are now permanent and, therefore, American political parties ought to be included in the literature on transnational political parties. Research was conducted by review of relevant literature and supplemented by first-person interviews with relevant actors. Interview subjects were identified through the literature or as leading professionals in their field or both.The argument takes a structural and historical approach. In addition to examining American party operations in and of themselves, associated actors are examined. The roles of American political consultants as agents of partisan outreach and 501(c)(3) organizations as support structures for transnational partisan networks are given particular attention. The historical approach is used to argue that the differences between traditional and American party transnationaltransnationalism is a product of the time and place of the individual movements' development.
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