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Chapter 9. POLITICAL PARTIES. The Rise of the Campaign Party Machine. The Republican and Democratic national committees have steadily increased their employees and activities, especially in finance, advertising, information technology, and campaign planning.

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Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

Chapter 9


The rise of the campaign party machine

The Rise of the Campaign Party Machine

  • The Republican and Democratic national committees have steadily increased their employees and activities, especially in finance, advertising, information technology, and campaign planning.

  • Yet public attachment to the parties is weaker than ever, leading some to talk about “baseless parties.”

  • It appears that parties have changed from community-based organizations to campaign service organizations.

The role of political parties in a democracy

The Role of Political Parties in a Democracy

  • What are political parties?

    • They recruit and run candidates for public office under the party label.

    • They try to organize and coordinate the activities of government officials under the party name.

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  • Many political scientists believe that parties are essential to democracy, serving as the main instrument of popular sovereignty and majority rule.

    • Keeping elected officials responsive

    • Including a broad range of groups

    • Stimulating political interest

    • Ensuring accountability

    • Making government work

History of the two party system

History of the Two-party System

  • Most nations have either one-party systems or multiparty systems.

  • Most Western democracies have multiparty systems.

  • Yet in the United States, two parties have dominated the political scene since 1836.

  • Democrats and Republicans have controlled the Presidency and Congress since 1860.

The first party system federalists versus democratic republicans

The First Party System: Federalists versus Democratic Republicans

  • Parties were created almost immediately after the country’s founding, even though the Founders were hostile to them in theory.

  • The Federalist Party formed in the 1790’s, under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton.

  • The Democratic Republicans soon formed as an opposition party, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

    • Federalists became tainted by actions such as the Alien and Sedition Acts, enacted to repress dissent and opposition to Federalist policies.

    • By 1816, the two-party system evolved into a one-party or no-party system, known as the Era of Good Feelings.

The second party system democrats versus whigs

The Second Party System: Democrats versus Whigs

  • In the 1830’s, a strong two-party system developed between the Democrats (formerly the Democratic Republicans) and the Whigs.

  • The Democrats and Whigs were very different parties from those in the first party system, resulting from a significant democratization of American life.

  • The Civil War split the parties: the northern and southern wings of each party mirrored the split in the nation.

From the civil war to 1896 republicans and democrats in balance

From the Civil War to 1896: Republicans and Democrats in balance

  • Following Reconstruction, Republicans and Democrats were somewhat balanced in national politics.

  • Each party had a strong regional flavor.

The party system of 1896 republican party dominance

The Party System of 1896: Republican party dominance

  • The late nineteenth century was a time of rapid economic and social change; protest movements and third parties developed.

  • Republicans dominated American politics from the 1896 election until the election of 1932.

  • After 1896, the rate of voter participation dropped sharply and never fully recovered.

  • The states of the deep South used intimidation and laws to remove blacks from the electorate, eliminating the Republican party as a factor in southern politics.

The new deal system democratic party dominance

The New Deal System: Democratic party dominance

  • The New Deal party system grew out of the crisis of the Great Depression and favorable public reactions to government efforts to deal with the economic collapse.

  • The party system underwent a realignment (1932-1936) from Republican to Democratic dominance.

The sixth party system dealignment and divided party government

The Sixth Party System: dealignment and divided party government

  • The electoral coalition that formed the basis of the New Deal party system began to seriously deteriorate in 1968 and finally collapsed in 1994.

  • Other changes starting in 1968 suggest the formation of a sixth party system stretching from 1968 to at least 1994.

  • Many call the process of transition to the sixth party system dealignment

    • dealignment may be thought of as a transformation in the party system in which a previously dominant party loses preeminence but no new party takes its place.

    • it is used to describe the increasing tendency of Americans not to claim any party identification at all.

Why a two party system

Why a Two-party System?

  • Why does the United States have a two-party system when most Western democracies have multiparty systems?

    • Electoral rules

      • Proportional representation v. winner-take-all, plurality election, single-member districts

    • Restrictions on minor parties

    • The absence of a strong labor movement

The place of minor parties in the two party system

The Place of Minor Parties in the Two-party System

  • Minor parties have played a less-important role in the United States than in virtually any other democratic nation.

  • In our entire history, only the Republican party has managed to replace one of the major parties.

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  • Types of minor parties

    • Protest parties

    • Ideological parties

    • Single-issue parties

    • Splinter parties

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  • The role of minor parties

    • may articulate and popularize new ideas that are eventually taken over by one or both major parties

    • may allow people with grievances to express themselves in a way that is not possible within the major parties

    • typically are not as cautious as the major parties

The parties as organizations

The Parties as Organizations

  • In most democratic countries, parties are fairly well-structured organizations.

    • Led by party professionals

    • Committed to a set of policies and principles

  • They tend to have clearly defined membership requirements, centralized control over nominations and financing, and discipline over party members who hold political office.

The ambiguous nature of american parties

The Ambiguous Nature of American Parties

  • American parties are composed of many diverse and independent groups and individuals.

  • Presidents cannot automatically count on the support of their own party.

  • Vagueness of party membership

  • Decentralized organization

    • party conventions

    • national party committees

    • Congressional campaign committees

    • state party organizations

    • associated interest groups

The primacy of candidates

The Primacy of Candidates

  • American politics is candidate-centered

    • Candidates have independent sources of campaign financing, their own campaign organizations, and their own campaign themes and priorities.

    • The party can do very little about nominees who oppose party leaders and reject national party platforms and policies.

    • Candidates are now almost exclusively nominated in primaries or grass roots caucuses, where the party organizations have little influence.

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  • Contrast with politics in European countries

    • People in most European countries vote for parties rather than for individual candidates.

    • Independent candidates cannot force themselves on the party through primaries or caucuses.

    • In countries like Germany, the campaign is waged between parties and their alternative programs, not between individual candidates.

Ideology and program

Ideology and Program

  • An ideology is an organized set of beliefs about the fundamental nature of the good society and the role government ought to play in achieving it.

  • Each party’s core supporters are more ideologically oriented than the general public.

  • Yet both parties are broad coalitions, and face strong pressures to be ideologically ambiguous in order to win in winner-take-all, single-member-district elections.

How are the parties different

How Are the Parties Different?

  • Still, the differences between Democrats and Republicans are real, important, and enduring, and appear to be becoming more distinctive.

    • in the perceptions of the electorate

    • in terms of who supports them

    • in their political platforms

    • in the positions taken by party activists

    • in the policy decisions of their elected representatives

Are the parties becoming more ideological

Are the Parties Becoming More Ideological?

  • The Republican party became more consistently conservative after the mid-1970s.

  • The Democratic party is split between a very liberal Congressional wing and a more “centrist” wing, represented by the Democratic Leadership Council (including Clinton and Gore).

The parties in government

The Parties in Government

  • The parties in government refers to government officials who have been elected under the party’s label.

    • To avoid tyrannical government, the Founders designed a system of government in which power is so fragmented and competitive that effectiveness is unlikely.

    • One of the roles that political parties play is to persuade officials in the different branches to cooperate with one another on the basis of party loyalty.

Divided party government

Divided Party Government

  • Divided party government occurs when the executive and legislative branches are held by opposing political parties.

  • Long-term party division between the Presidency and Congress exaggerates the problems caused by the constitutional separation of powers.

    • Divided government adds to the gridlock and paralysis that are built into the constitutional design of our system of government.

    • Divided party control can give rise to a state of perpetual conflict between the two branches.

Parties in the electorate

Parties in the Electorate

  • Parties in the electorate refers to individuals who are supporters of the party.

  • Americans are less inclined to identify with either of the parties than they were in the past.

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