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American Political Parties. What are Political Parties ?. A political party is a group of voters, activists, candidates, and office holders who identify with a party label. Parties recruit and run candidates for public office under the party label.

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What are political parties
What are Political Parties?

  • A political party is a group of voters, activists, candidates, and office holders who identify with a party label.

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

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


The role of political parties in a democracy
The Role of Political Parties in a Democracy

  • Many political scientists believe that parties are essential to democracy.

  • The political party is seen by some as the main instrument of popular sovereignty and majority rule.

  • Parties provide a way for the people to keep elected officials responsive and responsible through competitive elections.


Parties and majority rule
Parties and Majority Rule

  • Parties’ mobilizing activities contribute to democracy by educating people about politics.

  • Elections create an incentive for parties to include as many voters as possible under their “umbrella”, with winning support from a majority being the goal of each party.

  • Parties try to broaden their appeal by running candidates from many ethnic, racial, and religious groups.


The two party system
The Two-Party System

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

  • Most Western democracies have multiparty systems.

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


Why only 2 american parties
Why Only 2 American Parties?

  • Winner-take-all electoral system:

    • Legislative seats are awarded only to first place finishers in each “district”.

  • Institutional rules:

    • Congress and State legislatures provide no power base for minor parties.


The evolution of american party democracy
The Evolution of American Party Democracy

  • Hamilton and Jefferson, as heads of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist groups respectively, are often considered 'fathers' of the modern party system.

  • By 1800, this country had a party system with two major parties that has remained relatively stable ever since.


Democrats and republicans
Democrats and Republicans

  • From the presidential elections of 1860 to the present, the same two major parties have contested elections in the United States:

    • Democrats

    • Republicans.


Republicans
Republicans

  • 1854 Anti-slave activists met in Ripon, WI

  • 1854 “Republicans” first met in Jackson., MI. The name emphasizes a connection to the Democratic-Republican Party.

  • 1856 John Fremont was first presidential candidate of a national Republican Party.

  • 1860 Lincoln is the first Republican elected President as Republicans replace Whig Party as one of the 2 major national parties.



Democrats
Democrats

  • 1792 Thomas Jefferson organized opposition to Federalists

  • 1798 Officially named the Democratic-Republican Party

  • 1824 4-way split among D-R

  • 1832 Reunification of Democrats under Andrew Jackson presidency. “Jacksonian Democrats”

  • 1844 Officially re-named the Democratic Party

  • 1848 Democratic National Committee established.




What the party symbols mean
What the party symbols mean.

  • To A Republican

    • Elephant: dignified, strong, intelligent

    • Donkey: stubborn, silly, ridiculous

  • To A Democrat

    • Elephant: bungling, stupid, pompous

    • Donkey: humble, smart, courageous, lovable


History of party competition
History of Party Competition

  • 1860 -1876 -- Republican Dominance

  • 1876 -1896 -- “Competitive” Republican

  • 1896 -1932 -- Republican “Dominance”

  • 1932 -1952 -- Democratic Dominance

  • 1952 -1968 -- “Competitive” Democrat

  • 1970 - 2000 -- Neither party dominant

  • 2004 - Start of Republican domination?

  • 2006 – Looking toward a competitive 2008?


Realignments and critical elections
Realignments and Critical Elections

  • Each period begins with a “critical election”, a landslide by one party.

    • 1860, 1896, 1932, ???

  • Each critical election leads to permanent “realignment” of voter preferences

  • Cycle of dominance - about 40 years

    • 1860 to 1896

    • 1896 to 1932

    • 1932 to 1968


Modern politics wither the realignment
Modern Politics –Wither the Realignment?

  • We’ve actually been waiting for the realignment to follow 1932 for about 30 years.

  • We live in a “de-aligned” world. Party is not as important a cue to voting as it once was.


The roles of american parties
The Roles of American Parties

  • The two party system has been used to resolve political and social conflicts.

    • Mobilizing Support and Gathering Power

    • A Force for Stability

    • Unity, Linkage, Accountability

    • The Electioneering Function

    • Party as a Voting and Issue Cue

    • Policy Formulation and Promotion


3 views of the political party
3 Views of the “Political Party”

  • Party as Organization

  • Party in Government

  • Party in the Electorate


The party in government
The Party in Government

  • The Congressional Party

  • The Presidential Party

  • The Parties and the Judiciary

  • The Parties in State & Local Government


The party in the electorate
The Party-In-The-Electorate

  • The party-in-the-electorate is the mass of potential voters who identifywith specific party.

  • American voters often identify with a specific party, but rarely formally belong to it.



American political parties

Historical Parties

American Independence

Progressives

Bull Moose

Free Soil

Anti-Masons

Socialist

Contemporary Parties

Libertarian Party

Green Party

Reform Party

American Nazi

Socialist Labor

Socialist Worker

American Constitutional


Third parties their impact on american politics
Third Parties: Their Impact on American Politics

  • Rarely win elections. Rarely last long.

  • But, they bring new groups and people into politics who often stay involved.

  • Two-party system discourages extreme views.


Third parties electoral impact
Third Parties: Electoral Impact

  • Minor parties are not a threat to the two major parties today (although they may influence who wins).

  • Only eight third parties have won any electoral votes in a presidential contest.

  • The third parties that have had some “success” (aside from Ralph Nader in 2000) include…


Impact of 3 rd parties on issues
Impact of 3rd Parties on Issues

  • Prohibition (Prohibition Party)

  • Women’s Right to Vote (Prohibition & Socialist Parties)

  • Immigration Restrictions (Populist Party)

  • Child Labor (Socialist Party)

  • 40 Hour Work Week (Populist & Socialist Parties)

  • Progressive Income Tax (Populist & Socialist Parties)

  • Social Security (Socialist Party)

  • Crime Control (American Independence Party)


The republicans as a 3 rd party
The Republicans as a 3rd Party

  • Of course, despite modest electoral successes and policy impact via “adoption”, most third parties aspire to share or hold power.

  • Some make it. The Republicans did not start as a major party but became the beneficiary of the 1850’s battle over slavery between Whig and Democratic Parties.


Q how do our parties enhance democracy and government effectiveness
Q: How do our parties enhance democracy and government effectiveness?

Four Answers:

  • The responsible party model

  • The retrospective voting model

  • The median voter model

  • Overcoming the separation of powers


Proposals to improve the parties
Proposals to improve the parties effectiveness?

  • Make the party elements stronger

  • Strengthen ties between elements of the parties

  • More power to the party centers; more hierarchical

  • Make better ties to the public; party sentiments strengthened in the public.


Critics reactions to party reform

Parties are already too strong; increases public discontent. effectiveness?

Proposals to strengthen parties are by those who want big govt.

Critics: Reactions to Party Reform