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Political Parties: What do they do?. Promote a political agenda to influence government policy and action Select candidates for election Educate voters Finance election campaigns Fill government positions. 2 “Big Tent” Parties.

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political parties what do they do
Political Parties: What do they do?
  • Promote a political agenda to influence government policy and action
  • Select candidates for election
  • Educate voters
  • Finance election campaigns
  • Fill government positions
2 big tent parties
2 “Big Tent” Parties

Both Republicans and Democrats are considered “Big Tent” parties because there are many different groups that support unrelated issues who associate with the same party. For example, African Americans, environmentalists, pro-choice Americans and gay Americans all are special interest groups whose members typically vote for the Democrat party.

Often in American politics third parties limit their interests to a single issue. For example, the Green Party is a political party that puts environmentalism at the center of its agenda.


Which role of a political party do you think most influences the political process?

the history of democrats
The History of Democrats

The first two presidents of the US, George Washington and John Adams were Federalists. They believed in a strong central government. Both were wealthy men who owned property and were very concerned with improving commerce and ensuring property rights.

The Anti-Federalists evolved into the Democrat-Republican party. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States was the first Democrat-Republican to be elected President. They were mostly supported by working class small farmers from the South who valued their liberties, resented big business and possessed a general suspicion of government.

george washington and john adams were both federalists who believed in a strong central government
George Washington and John Adams were both Federalists who believed in a strong central government.

Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, the 3rd and 5th Presidents of the United States signed the Constitution in support of a strong federal government, but came to distrust an all powerful central government. They called themselves Democratic-Republicans and openly sympathized with the Anti-Federalists.To learn more about each click on:Thomas JeffersonJames Monroe

andrew jackson was the first democrat elected president
Andrew Jackson was the first Democrat elected President!

Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the US was an war hero who as a general defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. He was the first presidential candidate to run as a Democrat. History knows him as the first President to frequently veto laws passed in Congress. Jackson was responsible for enfranchising all white males (giving them the right to vote), large Indian removal projects and the distribution of land to white southern farmers. Jackson’s Democrats were also considered the party in favor of slavery and as a result typically won elections in southern states.

  • For more information click on http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/aj7.html
Andrew Jackson used a donkey to symbolize his working class roots and ever since the Democrats have been known as the part of the donkey.
democrat history continued
Democrat History Continued

Democrats evolved into the party that represented mainly the working classes of cities in the North and predominantly white agricultural workers in the South until 1932. Famous Democrats of this time period included James Polk, Andrew Johnson, and Woodrow Wilson.

franklin delanor roosevelt transformed the democrat party into what it is today
Franklin Delanor Roosevelt transformed the Democrat party into what it is today.

FDR captured the White House in 1932 and led the United States out the Great Depression by expanding government services like welfare, social security, jobs programs and to a lesser extent supporting civil rights laws. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson continued the tradition set by FDR in pushing forward civil rights laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and expanding the welfare state (a type of government designed to take care of its citizens, rather than ask them to take care of themselves) government’s role in society with the creation of Medicare, Medicaid and the expansion of welfare.

democrats today
Democrats Today

Today the Democrats are commonly perceived as the party of big government, civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, the poor and pacifism (slow to go to war).

Currently three major candidates are running in the Democrat primary in search of their party’s nomination for the 2008 election:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Barak Obama
  • John Edwards
history of the republicans
History of the Republicans

The Republicans were born in 1854 with support of abolitionists (people against slavery) and those who supported a strong federal government. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to be elected President. The Radical Republicans were responsible for pushing for Reconstruction efforts after the Civil War in the South. Later, in the late 1880s Republicans became known as the party of big business.

The Republican Party was born amidst tensions between slave and free states in 1850s. They tended to find more support in northern states.
history of republicans
History of Republicans

In the 1920s Republicans such as Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were known for laissez faire economics (free market) and isolationism (the US should mind its own business and stay out of world affairs). They favored small government, were against taxes and thought that the economy could take care of itself if left to its own devises.

Republicans came to be associated with elephants due to the political cartoons of Thomas Nast in 1874.
The Republican Party transformed itself from a political party of the North to one of the South and West in 1968.

The modern Republican Party was born out of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy in which Nixon appealed to southern white voters by proclaiming his support of states rights and promised to make the US safer. Today the Republican party stands for many of the issue Richard Nixon supported such as lower taxes, small government, the rights to carry arms, pro-life policies, a strong military and a smaller welfare state.

republicans today
Republicans Today!

The Republican party today tends to support public policies that limit the size of government and cut taxes. Typically, they also support the War on Terror, are generally opposed to the legalization of abortion (pro-life) and vote against programs to increase the size of the welfare state.

  • Rudy Guiliani
  • Mitt Romney
  • Fred Thompson
  • John McCain

The map below shows the states that were won by the Democrat Presidential nominee Al Gore and the Republican Presidential nominee George Bush in 2000.

the economy and taxes

Are generally in favor of large government and a progressive tax system in which the wealthy pay a larger share than the poor

Tend to be against international free trade agreements because they claim that such trade agreements hurt American workers and in particular unions

Tend to believe in a balanced budget and are willing to raise taxes if needed

Tend to make laws to protect American businesses from international competition


Are generally in favor of a smaller government

Generally for free market agreements with other countries, like NAFTA- North American Free Trade Agreement.

Vehemently against raising taxes even if it means a budget deficit

Tend to believe in global trade and don’t tend to protect US businesses from international competition

The Economy and Taxes
national defense and security

Tend to cut the military budget

Generally want to avoid American military intervention unless supported by the United Nations

Tend to believe in diplomacy and are slow to go to war


Believe in a strong military and are willing to pay for it with government money

Believe in confronting American enemies with or without UN support

Believe in using military intervention when American interests or security is threatened more quickly than Democrats

National Defense and Security
entitlements welfare medicaid social security health care

Generally think that the government should provide a broad safety net (health care, education, welfare, food stamps) for the poor and others.

They generally think these policies help the common good and are compassionate


Generally think the government should limit or reduce the safety net for the poor.

They believe that private businesses and non-profit charities can provide the same services

Entitlements- Welfare, Medicaid, Social Security, Health Care
crime and punishment

Tend to focus on rehabilitation programs over long prison sentences for convicted criminals

Usually against the death penalty

Focus on rights of the accused


Tend to focus on prison sentences as a deterrent to crime

Usually for the death penalty

Usually for stiffer penalties for convicted criminals

Crime and Punishment
environmental protection

Favor stricter regulations on businesses to protect the environment

Believe global warming is a real threat


Favor fewer restrictions on businesses in the hopes that wealthier companies will be able to be more environmental

Many do not believe global warming is a real threat

Environmental Protection
abortion and stem cell research

Tend to be pro-choice- believe that a woman should always have the right to choose to have an abortion

Tend to favor stem-cell research


Tend to be pro-life- do not believe that women have a right to have an abortion and instead call abortion a form of murder

Tend to be against stem-cell research

Abortion and Stem Cell Research
energy policy

Focus on researching alternative energy sources for the future


Focus on securing existing energy sources for the present and future

Energy Policy
values same sex marriage and civil rights laws

Tend to support the right for same-sex couples to marry


Tend to oppose the right for same-sex couples to marry

Values- Same Sex Marriage and Civil Rights Laws

Oppose using tax money for school choice (vouchers and charters)


Favor using tax money for school choice (vouchers and charters)


Favor looser immigration laws

Some favor “Amnesty” for illegals already in the country


Favor stricter immigration laws

Some favor punishment or deportation for illegals already in the country



Check Out How Each Party Feels About Issues That Are Important to You?Which Candidate Do You Agree With?