Book

The rise of political action committees: interest group electioneering and the transformation of American politics (2020)

in: Studies in postwar American political development

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Abstract

This text explores the origins of political action committees (PACs) in the mid-twentieth century and their impact on the American party system. It argues that PACs were envisaged, from the outset, as tools for effecting ideological change in the two main parties, thus helping to foster the partisan polarization we see today. It shows how the very first PAC, created by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1943, explicitly set out to liberalize the Democratic Party by channeling campaign resources to liberal Democrats while trying to defeat conservative Southern Democrats.