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Govt 2305-Ch_8


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  • 1. Political PartiesChapter 8
  • 2. Democratic Participation Basics Over time, as the value of leisure time increases (or as leisure time gets scarce), participation decreases Across society, as leisure time increases (and the value of leisure declines), participation increases  E.g., the elderly and/or retired Across society, as wealth increases, participation increases  E.g., the poor participate less
  • 3. What is a Political Party? Political Party – a group of political activists who organize to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy  Similar to interest groups, but interests groups do not want to operate the government Faction – a group or bloc in a legislature or political party that is trying to obtain power or benefits  Factions generally precede the formation of political parties in American history  Might represent certain ideological or regional viewpoints Independents – a voter or candidate who does not identify with an established political party
  • 4. Political Party Activities Recruiting candidates for public office Organizing and running elections Presenting alternative policies for the electorate Accepting responsibility for operating the government Acting as the organized opposition to the party in power
  • 5. What are Parties?Labels, Banners, and IDs Recall role of informational shortcuts in making decisions Labels: Parties serve as simple indicators of ideology, alliances, and preferences  Indicate likely voting behavior once in office Banners: Parties serve this role even though they do so noisily and sometimes with considerable error IDs: Parties serve in this sense, despite the fact that that party identification has been on the decline over the past century
  • 6. Parties as Organizations Connect voters to government  Democratic politicians answer to Democratic voters  Republican politicians answer to Republican voters Discipline elected officials to keep campaign promises and to keep in line with the will of voters Cohere officials to one another  E.g., party discipline in Congress Cohere citizens to one another  E.g., Tammany district leader in New York Party Machine: a party organization with a high degree of control over member activity and recruits its members with tangible incentives
  • 7. Parties as Coalitions Parties are coalitions because no group can dominate in politics without support from other groups to form a viable campaign organization Forms of support  Core – regular party supporters; will always support the party, but may not turn out  Variable – “Middle of the roaders”; may/may not turn out and may/may not support Party alignment  Parties are rarely reduced to single issues  Party leaders must pay attention to “core” and “variable” support to effectively campaign
  • 8. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. Democratic Party  One of the two major American political parties evolving out of the Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson  Favored personal liberty and opportunity for the “common man” in the 19th century Republican Party  One of the two major American political parties  Emerged in the 1850s as an antislavery party  Consisted of former Northern Whigs and antislavery (Northern) Democrats
  • 9. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. Whig Party  A major party in the United States during the first half of the 19th century; established in 1836  Was very anti-Andrew Jackson and represented regional interests primarily
  • 10. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. Third Party  A political party other than the two major political parties (Democratic and Republican) Splinter Party  A new party formed by a dissident faction within a major political party  Typically, they emerge when a particular personality is at odds with the major party
  • 11. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. Creation of Parties (1789-1816)  Federalists and Anti-Federalists (Democratic Republicans)  Presidential Electoral College electors chosen by state legislatures Era of Good Feelings [one party rule] (1816-1828)  Federalists disappear; Dem. Republicans remain  Factions develop with the election of J.Q. Adams (1824) National Two Party Rule “Jacksonian Period” (1828-1845)  Dem. Republicans and Whigs  Spoils system – when a political party gives government jobs to its constituents as an reward and incentive for party loyalty  Andrew Jackson’s administration in particular  Presidential Electoral College electors chosen by the people  Nominating system - Caucus
  • 12. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. Antebellum “Splinter” Period (1840-1856)  Whigs and Democrats are the primary “two parties  Rise of splinter parties: Liberty Party (1840), Free Soil (1845), Know- Nothing (1845), American Party (1852), and Northern/Southern Dems. (1856)  Slavery, states’ rights, anti-immigration, and xenophobia contribute to these groups Civil War Period (1856-1865)  Whigs, Northern Dems., “Know-Nothings,” and Free Soilers create the Republican Party in 1854; becomes a stable party in 1856  Southern Dems. become Confederates with the CSA in 1861  Technically, Republicans and Northern Dems. are the primary U.S. parties during the war
  • 13. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. Reconstruction Era (1865-1876)  Republicans and Northern/Southern Dems. are the primary parties  Southern Democrats slowly regaining power in the South  Reps. split between Conservative/Radical factions due to Reconstruction  A “Liberal Reps.” faction (1872) emerges calling for an end to Reconstruction Gilded Age (1876 – 1896)  Sectionalist politics and tariff reform are key  North vs. South alignment prominent; North = Republican; South = (Southern Dems.)  Reps. = party of business and prosperity; Southern “Yellow Dog” Dems. = institutionalized party in the South  Third parties: Greenback and Populist form over economic issues Progressive Period (1896-1932)  Gilded Age third parties assimilate into the Democratic party  Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives (middle ground for both parties)  Direct Democracy (direct election of senators via 17th Amendment)  Referenda, recall, and reform  Prog. Era third parties: Socialist and Prohibition
  • 14. A History of Political Parties in theU.S. New Deal Period (1932-1968)  Democrats become the dominant party (North and South coalition)  Party benefits emanated from the federal government, not the party (F.D.R. was very much in control)  Third parties: Union (Depression Era) and States’ Rights Dems. “Dixiecrats” (aligned against Truman in 1948) Modern Period (1968-present)  Democrats and Republicans are the two primary parties  Libertarian movement begins in the 1970s  Other third parties: American Independent (1968), Reform (1992), and Green (1996)
  • 15. Faces of a Political Party (Overall)1. Party-in-the-electorate  All the individuals who claim an attachment to a political party  Those that also express a preference for one party over another2. Party Organization  The formal structure and leadership of a political party  Includes: election committees; local, state, and national executives; and paid professional staff3. Party-in-Government  All of the elected and appointed officials who identify with a political party
  • 16. Faces of a Political Party (NationalLevel) National Convention  The meeting held every four years by each major party to select presidential and vice presidential candidates  Write a platform  Choose a national committee  Conduct party business Party Platform  A document drawn up at each national convention  Outlines policies, positions, and principles of the party National Committee  Standing committee of a national political party  Established to direct and coordinate party activities between party conventions
  • 17. Winner-Take-All Electoral System Plurality  A number of votes cast for a candidate that is greater than the number of votes for any other candidate, but not necessarily a majority (more than 50%)  At almost every level of government in the U.S., the outcome of elections is based on the plurality Electoral College  A group of persons, called electors, who are selected by the voters in each state  This group officially elects the president and vice president of the United States  In all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), if a presidential candidate wins a plurality in the state, then all of the state’s electoral votes go to the candidate
  • 18. Mechanisms of Political Change Realignment  A process in which a substantial group of voters switches party allegiance, producing long-term change in the political landscape  Ex. Texas’ shift from Dems. to Reps. (1950s) Dealignment  A decline in party loyalties that reduces long-term party commitment  Absence of strong partisan attachments make it easy for parties to decline and/or split  Ex. Increasing independent voters today
  • 19. Mechanisms of Political Change Straight-Ticket Voting  Voting exclusively for the candidates of one party Split-Ticket Voting  Voting for candidates of two or more parties for different offices  Ex. Voting for a Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic congressional candidate Swing Voters  Voters who frequently swing their support from one party to another
  • 20. Why Two Parties? History  Two-party division began with the Feds./Anti-Feds.  Big fed. gov’t vs. states’ rights Economic and Geographical Divisions  Sectionalism between the North and South apparent from the founding of the U.S.  The two parties have gravitated toward either side Lack of ethnic, racial, or religious parties  However, splinter parties sometimes represent these topics
  • 21. Why Two Parties? Institutionalism  Plurality rule vs. proportional representation  Single member districts  Sincere vs. strategic voting  Sincere voting – voting for a candidate for their position on the issues  Strategic voting typically used to eliminate third parties  “We can’t win without YOUR support”; “You see our point. Come to our side of the aisle.”  (1896) – Populists urged to support William Jennings Bryan, a Dem. candidate for president  (1912) – Dems. urged Progressives to vote for Woodrow Wilson  (2000) – Gore pushed Green party supporters to vote for him  (2004) – Kerry pushed Green party supporters to vote for him
  • 22. Decline of Parties More multifaceted society  Fewer 2-sided issues to divide everyone equally into one group or another Declining willingness to be associated with a party  Not everyone wants to be seen as “part of the group”  Individualism is key Decline of political machines  Urban and rural political networks (helped lead to the founding of parties like the Greenbacks, Populists, and Progressives)
  • 23. Decline of Parties Technology and Politics  Professionalization of Politics  Anyone can go to school to be a politician now  Some argue that this has led to an “overexposure” of politics  News Media  Social Media  Dominance of individualistic campaigns  Party primaries consistently using strategies to show “how I am different” from the rest of my party (Individualism again)