AMERICAN GOVERNMENT CH. 5-5 PARTY ORGANIZATION
THE DECENTRALIZED NATURE OF THE PARTIES • Major parties are often described as highly organized, close-knit, well-disciplined groups • They are not. • They are usually highly decentralized, fragmented, disjointed, and often beset by factions and internal squabbling. • Neither major party has a chain of command running from the national level to the state level
Various levels are loosely tied to other levels • The is usually cooperation between levels but there doesn’t have to be any • THE ROLE OF THE PRESIDENCY • President’s party is usually more solidly united than the opposition • The President is automatically the party leader
The other party has no one in an even faintly comparable position. • THE IMPACT OF FEDERALISM • Federalism is one major reason for the decentralized nature of the parties • Today, more the half a million elected offices in the USA widely distributed over various levels
THE ROLE OF THE NOMINATING PROCESS • First, candidate selection is an intraparty process • Nominations are made within the party • Second, the nominating process is often a divisive one. • The process is a prime cause of their highly fragmented character
NATIONAL PARTY MACHINERY • Four basic levels of the National Party structure • 1) THE NATIONAL CONVENTION • The national convention, the party’s voice, meets in the summer every presidential election year to pick its candidates for President and Vice President. • They also adopt the party platform
2) THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE • Between elections the party’s affairs are, in theory, handled by a national committee and national chairperson • Members include people from every state and territory • National committees appear to be powerful but they really only work on the national convention every four years.
2)THE NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON • Leads the National Committee • Only 2 women have been chairperson • 1) Jean Westwood(UT) – DNC – 1972-1973 • 2) Mary Louise Smith(IA) – RNC – 1974-1977 • Only African-American – Ron Brown – DNC – 1989-1993 • The chairperson promotes party unity, raising money, recruiting new voters
3)THE CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE • These committees work to reelect members of Congress • Members serve for 2-year terms
STATE AND LOCAL PARTY MACHINERY • THE STATE ORGANIZATION • State parties led by a State Central Committee • Try to build party unity and an effective organization • LOCAL ORGANIZATION • Local structures vary widely • WARD—a unit into which cities are divided to elect city council members • PRECINCT—smallest unit of election administration; the voters in each precinct report to one polling place
THE THREE COMPONENTS OF THE PARTY • 1) The party organization • Party leaders and activists • “All those who give their time, money, and skills” • 2) The party in the electorate • Party loyalists who regularly vote the straight party ticket • 3) The party in government • The party’s officeholders
THE FUTURE OF MAJOR PARTIES • Parties are never very popular • Parties have been in a period of decline since the 1960s • The weakened state of parties can be traced to several factors: • 1) A sharp drop in the number voters who are willing to declare a party and the growing number of those who say they are independent
2) A big increase in SPLIT-TICKET VOTING – voting for candidates of different parties • 3) Various structural changes and reforms have made parties more open • Introduction of the direct primary and various campaign reform laws • 4) Changes in the technology of campaigning for office—especially TV, internet, professional campaign managers, etc.
5) The growth, in both numbers and impact, of single-issue organizations. These groups support or oppose candidates based the group’s closely defined views • Examples—abortion, gun control, environment • The End