The Public Interest

The three-party system—1980 and after

Aaron Wildavsky

Summer 1981

THE election of 1980 could be the beginning of a Republican renaissance, but it could just as well be the beginning of the end for the Republican Party. It could be the herald of limited government, but perhaps it is the siren song of big government, dashing-on the rocks of desire for power-the naive hopes that less could be more. My point is that the importance of an event lies not only in the event itself but also in its results. When we ask whether 1980 was a critical election, we are asking about more than whatever is in the Reagan administration and its supporters: We are asking what the world will do to them as well as what they will try to do to it.

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