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Introduction to Political Parties in the U.S.


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Introduction to Political Parties in the U.S.

  1. 1. Political Parties
  2. 2. <ul><li>“ A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.” </li></ul><ul><li>John Stuart Mill (1859) </li></ul><ul><li>British Philosopher </li></ul>
  3. 6. <ul><li>Where do you think you fall on the political spectrum? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? How can you tell? </li></ul><ul><li>Let's find out how you score... </li></ul>
  4. 7. Parties and What They Do <ul><li>“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” </li></ul><ul><li>Vince Lombardi </li></ul><ul><li>This can be said for the attitudes of the Democratic and Republican parties </li></ul><ul><li>Competing and Winning are two main goals of political parties </li></ul>
  5. 8. <ul><li>Political Party – a group of people who seek to control government through the winning of elections and the holding of public office </li></ul><ul><li>The two Major Parties in the U.S. are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Republican </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Democratic </li></ul></ul>
  6. 9. <ul><li>Political parties are essential to democratic government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are the medium through which options are presented to the people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Serve as a link between the people and their government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some argue they are the principle means by which the will of the people is made known to government </li></ul></ul>
  7. 10. 5 Major Functions <ul><li>Nominating Candidates for public office </li></ul><ul><ul><li>THE major function </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select candidate and present them to the voters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work to help their candidate win elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best tool for finding candidates and gathering support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sets political parties apart from other groups in politics </li></ul></ul>
  8. 11. <ul><li>Informing and Activating Supporters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Activate interest and participation in public affairs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily by: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Campaigning for their candidates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Taking stands on issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Criticizing the candidates/positions of their opponents </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inform voters the way THEY want them to be informed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 12. <ul><li>Act as a Bonding Agent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensures the good performance of its candidates and officeholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tries to make sure they are men and women who are both qualified and of good character </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prompts its successful candidates to perform well in office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If they fail to do so, both party and candidate may suffer the consequences in future elections </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 13. <ul><li>Governing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public officeholders are regularly chosen on the basis of party </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress and State legislatures are organized on party lines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Partisanship – government action based on firm allegiance to a political party </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislative and Executive branches must cooperate in order to accomplish anything: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political Parties provide the channel for these branches to work together </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 14. <ul><li>Watchdog </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The party NOT in power closely watches the actions of the party in power* </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>* Party that controls the executive branch of government; i.e., the Presidency at the national level, or the governorship at the State level </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Party out of power tries to convince the voters that they should be the ones making the decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Often makes those in power more responsive to the wishes and concerns of the people </li></ul></ul>
  12. 15. The Two-Party System <ul><li>Two’s company, but three’s a crowd! </li></ul>
  13. 16. <ul><li>The two major political parties dominate American politics </li></ul><ul><li> & </li></ul><ul><li>The minor parties* do not have nearly as much power and influence as the major parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>* political parties without widespread support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples of minor parties include: Libertarian Party, Communist Party USA, Green Party of the United States </li></ul></ul>
  14. 17. Historical Basis <ul><li>U.S. has historically always been a two-party system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists after the ratification of the Constitution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans formed at the beginning of John Adam’s presidency (Federalist) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set the model for the Democrats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>vs. Republicans we know today </li></ul></ul>
  15. 18. The Force of Tradition <ul><li>Human institutions often become self-perpetuating </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The fact that the nation began with a two-party system is a leading factor for the retention of it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most Americans accept the idea of a two-party system simply because there has always been one. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can explain why challenges from minor parties have made very little headway </li></ul></ul>
  16. 19. The Electoral System <ul><li>Features of the American electoral system promote the existence of two major parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Single-member districts – elections are contests in which only one candidate is elected to each office on the ballot </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discourages minor parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Voters often see votes for a minor party as a wasted vote because of the influence of & </li></ul></ul>
  17. 20. <ul><li>Much of American election law is purposely written to discourage non-major party candidates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nearly all election law in this country is State law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Almost all of the 7,600+ State legislators are either </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> or </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The two major parties deliberately shape election laws to preserve, protect, and defend the system in a bipartisan* way </li></ul><ul><ul><li>* Bipartisan – two major parties find a common ground on an issue </li></ul></ul>
  18. 21. <ul><li>Both major parties are generally alike </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Both tend to be moderate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Both are build on compromise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regularly seek to occupy the “middle of the road” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seek the same prize: the votes of a majority of the electorate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To do so, they both must win over essentially the same people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take policy positions that do not differ from one another </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But they do have their differences… </li></ul>
  19. 22. <ul><li>Much more likely to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Favor the play of private market forces in the economy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Argue that the Federal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government should be less </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>extensively involved in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>social welfare programs </li></ul></ul>
  20. 23. <ul><li>More likely to support: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social welfare programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government regulation of business practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Efforts to improve the status of minorities </li></ul></ul>
  21. 24. One-Party Aspects of the U.S. <ul><li>Effective two-party competition has spread rapidly in the past 40 years or so </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Until the 1950s: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>dominated the South </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>had controlled much of New England and Mid-West </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Now: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>win offices in every Northern state </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>are heavily influential in the South </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 25. <ul><li>About 1/3 of the States can be said to have a one-party system* </li></ul><ul><ul><li> * One of the major parties regularly wins most elections in those states </li></ul></ul>
  23. 26. Party Membership Patterns <ul><li>Each of the major parties ( & ) have always been composed of a cross-section of the population </li></ul><ul><ul><li>However, some segments generally tend to align themselves with one or the other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>: white males, Protestants, and business community, historically higher income </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>: African Americans, Catholics and Jews, Union Members, historically lower income </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 27. Minor Parties in the U.S. <ul><li>Sometimes difficult to describe and classify because of their number and variety </li></ul><ul><li>Some limit their efforts to small geographic regions, while others try to influence the nation </li></ul><ul><li>Most are short-lived, but a few have existed for decades </li></ul><ul><li>There are four distinct types of interest groups </li></ul>
  25. 28. <ul><li>Ideological Parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on a particular set of beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social, economic, and political matters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Built around some variety of Marxist thought </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ex: Socialist, Socialist Labor, Socialist Worker, Communist parties </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasize individualism </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Call for doing away with most of government’s present functions and programs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ex: Libertarian Party </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Rarely are able to win any votes </li></ul>
  26. 29. <ul><li>Single-Issue Parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Concentrate on only one public-policy matter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Names usually indicate their primary concern </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ex: “Know Nothing” Party, Right to Life Party </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Do not stick around very long: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Die away as events pass by </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Themes often fail to attract voters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One or both major parties take their key issues as their own </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 30. <ul><li>Economic Protest Parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rooted in periods of economic discontent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proclaim their disgust with the major parties and demand better times </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus their anger on such real or imagined enemies as: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The monetary system </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Wall Street bankers” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Railroads </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign Imports </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Draw their strength mostly from the agricultural South & West </li></ul><ul><li>Tend to fall away as the nation climbs out of the difficult economic period in which that party arose </li></ul>
  28. 31. <ul><li>Splinter Parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties that have split away from one of the major parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of the more important minor parties in our politics have been splinter parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most splinter parties are formed around a strong personality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most often around someone who has failed to win his/her major party’s nomination </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These parties most often fade or collapse when the leader steps aside </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>