In 1991, Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) gave a speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives while wearing a paper bag on his head. "It is time to take the mask off this institution," he began, revealing his face. Nussle served in the House for 16 years and also worked in George W. Bush's presidential administration. Despite his long record of public service, that speech, part of the effort to stir up the House banking scandal, is Nussle's most famous moment.
Political parties are the central institutions of American politics. Issues like election misinformation, political polarization, and partisan gridlock are each associated with how these institutions have changed over time. Only recently have many scholars come to realize that while these issues appear in the course of conflict between parties, they are the product of processes at work within each party. My work contributes to a growing body of scholarship focused on the connection between outcomes in government, between-party conflict, and within-party competition. My research explains some of the ways that parties have changed in recent decades, what some of the consequences have been for federal goverment, and what might happen next.