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America’s Political Parties An Overview and Their History. America’s Political Party. Founding Era (1790s-1812) Birth of political parties Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans Era of Good Feeling (1820s to 1850s) Growth of parties on state level Democrats and Whigs

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america s political party
America’s Political Party
  • Founding Era (1790s-1812)
    • Birth of political parties
    • Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans
  • Era of Good Feeling (1820s to 1850s)
    • Growth of parties on state level
    • Democrats and Whigs
  • Golden Age (1860-1932)
    • Republicans (emerge from Whig Party) rule from Lincoln to FDR (Wilson)
  • Democratic Age (1932-1968)
    • Democrats in control of Congress and Presidency
  • Modern Era (1968-Today)
    • Divided government (one party presidency; other Congress)
what are political parties
What are political parties?
  • Team of people seeking to control government through being elected
    • Unlike interest groups who want to influence government
  • Collective set of similar political ideologies
  • Support many issues
    • Unlike interest groups who support few
  • Political parties are like a circus tent… many can gather underneath
what viewpoints are supported by america s parties
What viewpoints are supportedby America’s parties?

How do they differ on…

– Taxes?

– Foreign policy?

– Social issues (abortion gay marriage, etc.)?

– Environment?

– Law and order?

what are political parties for
What Are Political Parties For?
  • Political parties collectivize public opinion by:
      • Picking candidates
      • Running campaigns
      • Making voting simpler
    • Less choices, clearer symbols, presenting information
      • Creating policy positions (making it clear)
      • Coordinate policymaking at different levels
why the fuss
Why the Fuss?

People are dissatisfied with party system

Theory of Responsible Party Government

1. Parties should present clear and coherent programs to voters

2. Voters should choose candidates on basis of party’s ability to execute programs

3. Winning party is obliged to carryout program

4. Voters should hold governing/majority party responsible at election time

competing for policy
Competing for Policy
  • Two basic generalizations:

1. As voters, we want the best chance our policy choices will be adopted

2. Parties want to win office

    • To win elections, parties must select favorable policies
big question

To what extent do the Republicans and Democrats meet the Theory of Responsible Party Government?

Do they provide voters’ favorable policy choices?

political ideologies
Political Ideologies


an introduction
An Introduction

What is an ideology? A set of ideas (values, expectations, myths) about how society should operate

Political ideologies studied in comparison on a political spectrum

Liberal Conservative Moderate

a different view on the political spectrum
A Different View on the Political Spectrum

Government Involvement

in the Economy


Communitarian / Populist





Maintaining Traditional Values


what is a conservative
What is a Conservative?

Basic values: Personal responsibility

Limited government

Traditional values

Free markets (laissez-faire)

Strong national defense

Duty of government to provide freedom necessary for people to pursue their own goals

Idea of government as a “strict father”

what is a liberal
What is a Liberal?

Basic values: Equal opportunity

Equality for all

Duty of state to protect civil liberties, alleviate social ills, and promote human rights

People are innately good

Can also be called “progressives”

Idea of state as “nurturing mother”



View of the


other ideologies
Other Ideologies

Libertarian: maximization of individual liberty in thought and action and the minimization of the state

Communitarian/Populism: need to balance individual rights and interests with that of the community as a whole


Extreme Conservatism: nationalism, authoritarianism, racism Very diverse thoughts-from Nazism to McCarthyism Reactionary in nature

Neo-conservatism: support using American economic and military power to bring democracy and human rights to other countries; usually supportive of “big government”

Others include: feminism, environmentalism, Islamism, anarchism

conclusion ideologies are not perfect
Conclusion: Ideologies are Not Perfect

Some thinking points…

Conservatives oppose abortion saying they want to save the lives of unborn fetuses but also oppose government programs like prenatal care and have voted to eliminate similar programs resulting in a higher infant mortality rate

Liberals support federal funding for AIDS research and treatment, while promoting the spread of AIDS by sanctioning sexual behavior that leads to AIDS (supporting gay marriage, distribution 0f condoms)

Contradictions in Both Camps

types of party systems
Types of Party Systems
  • Single-party system: laws or practices prevent opposition from taking power
    • Typically undemocratic and totalitarian
    • Examples: China (Communist Party of China), Eritrea (People’s
    • Front for Democracy and Justice), Syria (Baath Party)
  • Two-party system: use a plurality voting system to prevent votes from being split between many candidates
    • Typically left-wing and right-wing nature of parties
    • Examples: Japan (Liberal Democrats and Democrats), Jamaica
    • (LabourParty and People’s National Party) , and the United States
  • Multi-party system: two or more parties have ability to gain control separately or in coalition
    • Needs proportional representation to exist
    • Examples: India, Germany, Israel
types of third parties in america
Types of Third Parties in America
  • Single-issue: seeking a singly policy (usually revealed in name)
    • Examples: Prohibition Party, Marijuana Party
  • Splinter: breaks away from a major party due to ideological disagreement
    • Examples: Constitution Party, America First Party
  • Economic protest: usually based in a region, protest against depressed economic conditions
    • Examples: U.S. Labor Party, Working Families Party
  • Ideological: profess a comprehensive view of society and government, which is radically different from the major parties
    • Examples: Libertarian Party, Green Party
historic third parties in america
Historic Third Parties in America
  • Bull-Moose Party/Progressive Party
    • 1912: Theodore Roosevelt keeps Taft from winning 2nd term
  • Populist Party (late 1800s)
  • Dixiecrats(later 1940s)
    • Boycott Democrats who were supporting

civil rights

  • Other major independents
    • George Wallace (1968)-46 Electoral College votes
    • Ross Perot (1992)-19% of popular vote; allowed Bill Clinton to win with less than 50% of vote
    • Ralph Nader (2000)-possibly prevented Gore from winning in Florida
how are 3rd parties formally limited
How are 3rd Parties Formally Limited?
  • Plurality representation
  • Debate rules
    • 15% rule
  • Ballot access laws
    • Registration fees
    • Signatures needed