Clicker Question Which of the following differentiates an interest group from a political party? a. A party attempts to influence policy, whereas an interest group attempts to gain control of government by running candidates for office. b. An interest group is more comprehensive than a party. c. An interest group seeks to influence government on a narrow range of issues, whereas a party attempts to win elections. d. An interest group attempts to appeal broadly to many groups of voters.
Clicker Question Do you agree or disagree that political parties are good for American democracy? Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
Clicker Question Do you think it is a good thing we only have two major parties in America? Yes No
Clicker Question Would you ever consider supporting a third party candidate? a. YES b. NO c. MAYBE
What are Political Parties? Political parties are organized groups that attempt to influence the government by electing their members to important government offices, thereby controlling government. Interest groups, while similar in goals (influencing the government), are very different in terms of characteristics and strategies.
Parties and Democracy Primary Goal – Influence Public Policy Secondary Goal – Win Elections To get what they want, they have to give us what we want – they have to convince us to elect them. Political parties are fundamentally connected to voters – their power comes from us delegating our power.
Clicker Question Compared with political parties in Europe, parties in the United States have always seemed: a. strong b. centralized c. weak d. coherent
The Case for STRONG Parties Partisanship is not America’s political problem; instead, our parties are not strong enough to function effectively. STRONG parties promote CHOICE! Parties are the principle organizations that… 1. Recruit Candidates for public office (Choice) 2. Organize and Run Competitive Elections (Choice) 3. Present Alternative Policies to the Electorate (Choice) 4. Accept Responsibility for Operating the Gov. 5. Act as the Organized Opposition to the Party in Power (Choice)
Parties in History Two-Party System - a political system in which only two political parties have a realistic opportunity to compete effectively for control Has dominated American politics. Has not always been Ds and Rs, but always 2 “nationally competitive” political parties.
Clicker Question How many Party Systems have their been in American history? 4 12 6 9
Clicker Question The Republican Party was formed: a. as a coalition of anti-slavery forces b. as a coalition of pro-slavery forces c. in response to Thomas Jefferson’s call for states rights d. after suffering persecution under the Alien and Sedition Acts
Realignment/Dealignment Realignment – the point in history when a new party supplants the ruling party, becoming in turn the dominant political force. Dealignment – a trend or process whereby a large portion of the electorate abandons its previous partisan affiliation, without developing a new one to replace it. Divided Government - the condition in American government wherein the presidency is controlled by one party while the opposing party controls one or both congressional houses.
Party Systems and Realignments
Clicker Question Have you ever heard of Proportional Representation? YES NO
Clicker Question The American electoral system is similar to most other electoral systems… TRUE FALSE
Clicker Question "Overall, which party -- the Democrats or the Republicans -- do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?" Options rotated Democrats Republicans Both Neither
The Case for Third Parties Republicans Democrats
Clicker Question In PLURALITY voting, what does it take to be the winner? 50% + 1 2/3 of the Vote At least 35% 1 more vote than anyone else
Why JUST 2 Parties? Electoral Laws - Winner-Take-All Voting Single-Member Districts – Only 1 winner/seat per contest Plurality – Just 1 more vote than anybody else. The rules we have affect who wins, and therefore, who participates in the political process. Our system offers NO REWARDS for 2nd, 3rd, 4th...
Median Voter Theory Rather than differentiate themselves, there are clear incentives for candidates to “go to the middle” because that’s where the voters are. Electoral competition drives parties together… So, the reason candidates appear to be so centrist is because they are both competing for “Bob’s” vote in order to win.
Median Voter Theory Obama McCain BOB
Clicker Question "Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of the way the Democratic Party and Republican Party have been dealing with the country's problems? You are angry at both parties. You are only angry at the Republicans. You are only angry at the Democrats. You are not angry at either party." Angry at Both Parties Only Angry at the Republicans Only Angry at the Democrats Not Angry at Either Party
Clicker Question Would you support a change to a more proportional form of elections? Yes NO