Wisconsin Politics and Government


Wisconsin Politics and Government

America's Laboratory of Democracy

James K. Conant

Politics and Governments of the American States Series

420 pages


March 2006


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Throughout the twentieth century, Wisconsin won national visibility and praise for its role as a “laboratory of democracy” within the American federal system. In Wisconsin Politics and Government James K. Conant traces the development of the state and its Progressive heritage from the early territorial experience to contemporary times. Conant includes a discussion of the four major periods of institutional and policy innovation that occurred in Wisconsin during the twentieth century as well as an examination of the state’s constitution, legislature, office of the governor, courts, political parties and elections, interest groups, social welfare policy, local governments, state-local relations, and current and emerging issues.
Readers of Wisconsin Politics and Government are likely to find a close correspondence between Wisconsin's social, economic, and political experience during the twentieth century and the essential democratic characteristics Alexis de Tocqueville describes in his classic work Democracy in America. For example, Wisconsin’s twentieth-century civil society was highly developed: its elected and administrative officials continuously sought to improve the state's political and administrative institutions, and they worked to enhance the economic and social conditions of the state's citizens. Other modern characteristics of the state's democratic experience include issue-oriented politics, government institutions operating free of scandal, and citizens turning out to vote in large numbers.

Author Bio

James K. Conant is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He grew up in Wisconsin, began his professional career working in Wisconsin state government, and received his PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


“In what is surely the definitive work on the history of Wisconsin politics, James K. Conant has analyzed nearly every part of that state’s political history up to the present.”—Alvena Bieri, Progressive Populist

“Conant takes readers through the evolution of Wisconsin’s constitution, legislature, executive, judiciary, parties, and interest groups. . . . [Wisconsin Politics and Government]’s strength clearly lies in the author’s impressive grasp of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the state’s polity.”—Annals of Iowa

Also of Interest