Study Guide for Chapter 9 of "The Struggle for Democracy"
Political Parties Chapter 9 S
Political PartiesS Definition: An organization that tries to win control of government by electing people to office who carry the party label.
Role of Political Parties in a DemocracyS Keep elected official responsiveS Stimulate political interestS Ensure accountabilityS Help people make sense of complexity in politicsS Make government work
The American Two-Party SystemS Two Party System: A political system in which two parties vie on relatively equal terms to win national elections. S The United States comes closer to having a two-party system than any other nation in the world.S Most Western democracies have a multiparty system. S A system in which three or more viable parties compete to lead the government.
Proportional Representation (PR)S The United States has an unusual way in electing representatives. (Which will be talked about on the next slide).S Other democratic nations use some form of proportional representation to elect their representatives. S In a PR system each party is represented in proportion to the percentage of popular vote it receives in an election. S This keeps minor parties active in politics.
Why a Two-Party System?S Elections in the United States are organized on a winner-takes- all, single member district basis. S This arrangement creates a powerful incentive for parties to come together and for voters to concentrate on two big parties. S This forms plurality elections in which minor parties are tempted to merge with a major party.S This system discourages minor-party efforts because failure to come in first in the voting leaves a party with no representation. S From a voters standpoint, a vote for a minor party is a wasted vote.
Role of Minor Parties in the Two-Party SystemS Minor parties form: S Protest parties S Ideological parties S Single-issue parties S Splinter partiesS These parties do not intend to win, they are just trying to get important issues known.
Shifts in the Two-Party SystemS Some scholars have developed a theory of party realignment in which a party dominates American politics for periods lasting between 30 and 40 years, then gives way to the other major party during a short realigning period as voting coalitions change. Example: S The New Deal coalition
The New Deal Coalition and DealignmentS A long time period of Democratic Party dominance. The democrats won seven of nine presidential elections, controlled the senate and the house, and claimed majority.S The Dealignment Era was the end of the coalition. S This coalition declined when the Republicans won the presidential election in 1968. S The coalition collapsed in 1980 when with the republican capture of the presidency and the Senate.
Divided GovernmentS Occurs when one party is in control of the presidency and the other with majority in at least the house or senate (Sometimes both). S A divided government makes it hard to get things done in office since nobody comes to agreements. This can lead to a gridlock.S A gridlock is a situation in which things cannot get done due to a divided government.
Unified GovernmentS Control of the executive and legislative branches by the same political party. S This can make it easy for jobs to be carried out get things accomplished.
Democratic and Republican Parties TodayS Lose collections of local and state parties, campaign committees, candidates and officeholders, and associated interests and advocacy groups that get together every four years to nominate presidential candidate.
Congressional Campaign CommitteesS Republican and Democratic, for the House and for the Senate. S Aid members of Congress in their campaigns for reelection.S They help raise money, provide media service, conduct research, and do what ever else that is appropriate.
Party IdeologiesS Usually in the sense of being liberal or conservative. S Democrats being liberal S Republicans being conservative
Active Partisan and LeanersS Active Partisans are people who identify with a party, vote in elections, and participate in additional party and party- candidate activities.S Leaners are people who claim to be interdependent but consistently favor one party over another.
Other Terms You Should KnowS Partisan: A committed supporter of a political party. Also, seeing issues from the point of view of a single party.S Party Platform: A partys statement of its positions on the issues to reflect the preferences of the public as a way to win elections.