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November 1995
184 pages  

6 x 9
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Strategic Disagreement
Stalemate in American Politics
Gilmour, John
Although compromise is an inherent part of politics, many politicians chose not to adjust their goals for fear of losing supporters or a strong debate position. It is the strategies of these office holders that John Gilmour describes in Strategic Disagreement, illuminating lost opportunities to pass important legislation resulting from such disagreements.

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John B. Gilmour is assistant professor of government at the College of William and Mary.
“The analysis is smart, original, and backed up by impressive documentation. Gilmour has absolute command of relevant legislative history during the last half century. . . . No work like this exists in print. It commands attention.”—David R. Mayhew

"Deserves a place on the shelf next to the best work of Erving Goffman and Thomas Schelling." —Nelson W. Polsby, University of California, Berkeley

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Politics may be the art of compromise, but accepting a compromise can be hazardous to a politician’s health. Politicians worry about betraying faithful supporters, about losing the upper hand on an issue before the next election, that accepting half a loaf today can make it harder to get the whole loaf tomorrow. In his original interpretation of competition between parties and between Congress and the president, Gilmour explains the strategies available to politicians who prefer to disagree and uncovers the lost opportunities to pass important legislation that result from this disagreement. Strategic Disagreement, theoretically solid and rich in evidence, will enlighten Washington observers frustrated by the politics of gridlock and will engage students interested in organizational theory, political parties, and divided government.


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