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Chapter 5: Political Parties. Tori Kolste Amelia Bobzien Jessica Schwartz. Section 1. Parties and What They Do. What Do Parties Do?. Nominate candidates for office and work to help their candidates win Inform and activate supporters

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Chapter 5: Political Parties

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Chapter 5 political parties l.jpg

Chapter 5:Political Parties

Tori Kolste

Amelia Bobzien

Jessica Schwartz

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Section 1

Parties and What They Do

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What Do Parties Do?

  • Nominate candidates for office and work to help their candidates win

  • Inform and activate supporters

    • Campaigning, take stands on issues, criticize opponents, advertisements

  • “Bonding Agents”

    • ensure good performance, make sure candidates are qualified and perform well in office

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What Do Parties Do?

  • Governing

    • Officeholders chosen on basis of party

    • Govern on basis of support of party and its political stands (partisanship)

  • Acts as Watchdog

    • Party out of power criticizes the party in power (the party controlling the executive branch)

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Section 2

The Two-Party System

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  • The framers didn’t want political parties but they were first formed with the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists

  • The nation has always had a two-party system, and it will continue to have one because Americans accept it

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The Electoral System and the Two-party System

  • Single-member districts work to discourage minor parties – encouraging the two-party system

  • Much of American election law is written to discourage minor parties

  • Republicans and Democrats work together to preserve the two-party system

  • Non-major candidates have made it to the ballot everywhere in only seven presidential elections

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American Ideological Consensus

  • Over time, Americans have come to share many of the same ideals, principles, and patterns of belief

    • This causes American society and politics to simply not permit more that two major parties

    • This also causes the two major parties to be very much alike, both trying to go down the middle to get the most votes

  • There are however, some significant differences between Democrats and Republicans

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Multiparty Systems

  • In many European democracies

  • Consists of several major and many lesser parties

  • Various parties are based on particular interests

    • Economic class, religion, etc.

  • Makes for a broader and more diverse representation

  • Sometimes causes the power to govern to be shared by many parties (coalition)

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One-Party Systems

  • In dictatorships

  • Example of states in U.S. having one-party systems is the Democrats until the 1950s in the “Solid South”

  • 1/3 of states still have a modified one-party system in which on major party always wins

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Party Membership Patterns

  • Being a member of a party is voluntary

  • Each party comprised of a cross section of the nation’s population

  • African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and union members tend to be more Democratic

  • White males, Protestants, and the business community tend to be more Republican

  • Decide which party by: family, major events, economic status, age, education, and job

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Section 3

The Two-Party System in American History

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Nations First Parties:The Federalists

  • Alexander Hamilton

  • Rich and well-born

  • Wanted a stronger national government

  • Wanted a liberal interpretation of the Constitution

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Nations First Parties:The Anti-Federalists

  • Thomas Jefferson

  • Sympathetic to the common man

  • Wanted a limited federal government

  • Wanted a strict interpretation of the Constitution

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The Four Major Eras:Era of the Democrats, 1800-1860

  • Started with Jefferson in 1800

  • The were unopposed until the 1820s when the party split into factions

  • The Whig party led by Henry Clay were the major opponents until the Civil War

  • During the Democratic Era:

    • Voting for white males was established

    • Huge increase in the number of elected offices

    • Spread of the spoils system

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The Four Major Eras:Era of the Republicans, 1860-1932

  • Started with Abraham Lincoln in 1860

  • After the Civil War, the Democrats only hold was the “Solid South”

  • McKinley’s victory in 1896 drew a broader range of electorate and helped Republicans to dominate even more

  • In 1912 Republicans nominated Taft and not Theodore Roosevelt so he went to the Progressive Party and the vote was split so Democrat Woodrow Wilson won

  • The GOP regained its ground winning the next 3 elections

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The Four Major Eras:Return of the Democrats, 1932-1968

  • During the Great Depression people voted Democrat FDR

  • FDR’s New Deal strengthened the Democratic Party and got them the support of the African American community

  • FDR won 3 terms until his death

  • Eisenhower won for the Republicans from 1952-56

  • JFK regained the Presidency for the Democrats in 1960

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The Four Major Eras:Start of a New Era, 1968-Present

  • The Republicans regained power in 1968 with Nixon until the Watergate Scandal in 1974

  • In 1976 Jimmy Carter won for the Democrats after the Watergate Scandal and pardon of Nixon hurt Gerald Ford

  • Republicans won again in 1980 & 84 with Reagan and held it with George Bush in 1988

  • Democrats won in 1992 & 96 with Clinton

  • Republicans got it back in 2000 & 04 with George W. Bush

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Section 4

The Minor Parties

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Ideological Parties

  • Based on a particular set of beliefs

  • Many built on Marxist thought

    • Socialist, Socialist Labor, Socialist Worker, and Communist parties

  • Libertarian Party

    • Emphasizes individualism

  • Ideological Parties seldom win many votes

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Single-Issue Parties

  • Focus on only one public-policy matter

  • Free Soil Party

    • Opposed the spread of slaver in 1840-50s

  • American Party (“Know Nothings”)

    • Opposed Irish-Catholic immigration in


  • Right to Life Party

    • Opposes abortion today

  • Most die away as events have passed them by

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Economic Protest Parties

  • Rooted in periods of economic disaster

  • No clear-cut ideological base

  • Proclaim their disgust for the major parties

  • Greenback Party, 1876-1884

  • Populist Party of the 1890s

  • Disappear as the nation climbs out of difficult economic periods

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Splinter Parties

  • Have split away from one of the major parties

  • Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party of 1912

  • Robert La Follette’s Progressive Party of 1924

  • Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party, 1948

  • States’ Rights Party,1948

  • George Wallace’s Independent Party of 1968

  • Most form around a person who failed to win the major party’s nomination

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Green Party

  • Founded in 1996

  • Began as a single-issue party but has evolved

  • Came to prominence in 2000 with Ralph Nader as its nominee

  • Nader’s campaign built around:

    • Environmental protection, universal health care, gay and lesbian rights, restraints on corporate power, etc.

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Why Minor Parties Are Important

  • Minor Party, Anti-Masons, first to use a national convention in 1831

  • A strong third-party can play a “spoiler role” pulling votes from one of the major parties

  • Take clear-cut stands on controversial issues and draw attention to issues the major parties ignore

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Section 5

Party Organization

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Decentralized Nature of the Parties

  • Role of Presidency

    • Party leader

    • Uses media and power to make appointments and other favors to his party

  • Impact of Federalism

    • Goal of parties is to gain control of government by winning elective votes

    • Because the governmental system is decentralized, so are the major parties

  • Role of the Nominating Process

    • Nominations made within the party, and that can lead to fighting among party members

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National Party Machinery

  • National Convention

    • Summer of election year to nominate

    • Adopt the party’s rules and write the platform

  • National Committee

    • Handle the party’s affairs between national conventions

  • National Chairperson

    • Leader of the national committee

    • Four year term

  • Congressional Campaign Committees

    • Work to reelect incumbents and unseat incumbents of the other party

    • Two year term (In Congress)

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State and Local Party Machinery

  • State Organization

    • State central committee, headed by a State Chairperson

    • Work to further the party’s interests in the State

  • Local Organization

    • Follow the electoral map of the State with a party unit for each district

    • Mostly work only in months before the election

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Three Components of the Party

  • 1. The Party Organization

    • Party’s leaders, activists and hangers-on

  • 2. The Party in the Electorate

    • Party’s loyalists who vote the straight party ticket

  • 3. The Party in Government

    • Party’s officeholders in executive, legislated, and judicial branches of the government

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Future of the Major Parties

  • Political parties have been in a period of decline since the 1960s:

    • Drop in the number of voters identified as Democrats or Republicans

    • Increase in split-ticket voting

    • Making parties more open but having more internal conflict and disorganization

    • Technology of campaigning for office:use of TV and internet

    • Growth of single-issue organizations

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Sources Used

  • Magruder’s American Government, revised by William A. McClenaghan, published by Prentice Hall

  • Pictures from


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