Political Parties are a vital link between the people and their government.
“A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.” ~ John Stuart Mill
Major Party- a group of persons who seek to control government through the winning of elections and the holding of public office(s). ◦ Republicans ◦ Democrats Minor Party- one of the many political parties without wide voter support. ◦ Green Party ◦ Prohibition Party
Where in a typical political election, two major parties dominate American politics. A number of factors explain why America has had and continues to have a two-party system.
Framers of the Constitution were opposed to political parties. ◦ Federalist No. 10: One can either destroy the factions, or somehow, control its outcomes. ◦ Bi-partisan system still follows Madison’s “multiple” faction government. ◦ Federalist No. 14: “Big Tent” involves inviting multiple factions/spheres of thought into the Big Tent ◦ A means of controlling the “mob mentality”
Started with the Federalists and Anti- Federalist ◦ More Americans except the idea of a two-party system because there has always been one ◦ James Madison said that a larger Republic is better, as to increase the number of factions, and to distribute power No one party can overpower the system… or can they?
Single-member districts: Electoral process in which one person is chosen by the voters for each elected office Plurality: The winning candidate who receives a the largest number of votes cast for an office ◦ The plurality does NOT have to be the majority Bipartisan: The two major political parties find common ground and work Together
The American people over time have shared many of the same ideals, same basic principles, and same patterns of belief Pluralistic Society: One consisting of several distinct cultures and groups ◦ The United States is the “melting pot” of the world Federalist Paper No. 55 ◦ Argues that a smaller assembly is better for the country. More likely to get things RATIFIED ◦ However, this is contradictory to the People’s Voice
Consensus: A general agreement ◦ Not always so in American society 1. American Civil War 2. Great Depression 3. Vietnam Era 4. Persian Gulf War II (Afghanistan and Iraq) 5. Party Polarity (Republicans v. Democrats)
A system in which several major and many lesser parties exist, seriously compete for, and actually win public office(s). Based around particular interests, including: ◦ Economic class ◦ Religious beliefs ◦ Sectional attachment ◦ Political ideology Creates a broader and more diverse representation of electorates.
Coalition- a temporary alliance of several groups who come together to form a working majority and so to control a government. Allows for multiparty arrangements to take power. ◦ Western European democracies have been plagued by multiparty systems ◦ Example: Italy Americans have shunned the multiparty system
A political system in which only one party exists. Falls under a dictatorship in many nations. Within the United States, a modified one- party system is prevalent in certain regions of the country. Post Civil War Elections: ◦ Republican party = New England & Midwest ◦ Democrats = South
Federalist No. 10 & 51 Both majority and minority factions are brought up, and Madison believes that the majority factions are the most dangerous. Using the liberties of citizens can bring down a Democracy. Factions- conflicting groups
After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution: ◦ The Federalist- led by Alexander Hamilton, the larger party had pushed for a stronger central government. ◦ Policies appealed toward the nation’s financial, manufacturing, and commercial interests. ◦ The Democratic-Republicans- led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were more sympathetic toward the “common man” and favored a more limited government with property owners being a priority
Election of 1800 ◦ “The Great Revolution” signified the transfer of political powers from one political party to another ◦ The incumbent Federalist president, John Adams, was defeated by Republican Thomas Jefferson Incumbent- current office holder Since then, there have been 4 major periods of political party dominance.
Era of the Democrats (1800-1860) Although called Republicans, the Democratic- Republicans can be compared to the Democratic Party of today. Ran unopposed in national politics up to 1830. ◦ Split up into factions with the introduction of the Andrew Jackson administration ◦ National Republicans (Whigs) vs. Democrats
Era of the Republicans (1860-1932) Republican dominance started in 1860 with the election of President Lincoln. Only political party to jump from 3rd party to major party status Electorate- the people eligible to vote. Sectionalism- the devotion toward interests of one section of the country or population
The New Democratic Era (1932-1968) The Great Depression brought the election of a new American leader, FDR Democrats held the national government up to the Vietnam War ◦ Richard Nixon’s second attempt for the presidency proved successful for a short-term Republican reign
Era of Division (1968-current) New points of interest have created a rift between the public’s concern and that of the political parties’ agendas
There are MANY neglected third parties that field a presidential candidate ◦ Constitution Party ◦ Green Party of the U.S. ◦ Communist Party ◦ Libertarian Party ◦ America First Party ◦ Freedom Socialist Party ◦ Reform Party ◦ Prohibition Party ◦ American Nazi Party ◦ And Many More…
1. Ideological Parties Parties based on a particular set of beliefs-a comprehensive view of social, economic, and political matters. ◦ Have seldom been able to win many votes ◦ Libertarian Party- focuses on the individual ◦ Communist Party- focuses on the well-being of the society
2. Single-Issue Parties Parties that focus on only one public-policy matter ◦ Most of these parties fade into history, with the issue they stood for. ◦ The two major parties may address their key issue, as one of their own. ◦ Usually found in the minor party name. Prohibition Party (Founded 1869) U.S. Marijuana Party (Founded 2002)
3. Economic Protest Parties Parties rooted in periods of economic discontent. ◦ There is no clear-cut ideological base ◦ A disgust toward the two major parties Occupy Wall Street ◦ Most often, they have been sectional parties Drawing strength from the South & West ◦ Greenback Party (1876-1884) ◦ Populist Party (1890s)
4. Splinter Parties Parties that have split away from one of the major political parties ◦ Most of the more important 3rd parties have been splinter parties ◦ Form around a strong personality-an individual ◦ These parties usually collapse when the individual steps down Bull Moose Progressive Party Progressive Party (1912) Green Party with Ralph Nader
Third-party candidacy can act as a “spoiler role” in a close election. ◦ Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party took away votes from the Republican candidate in the 1912 election Minor parties act as the critics and innovators for political issues
State party organizations are loosely tied to the party’s national structure Both major political parties are highly decentralized, fragmented, disjointed, and often beset by factions
Each major American political party builds its structure from four basic elements:1. The National Convention2. The National Committee3. The National Chairperson4. The Congressional Campaign
State party foundations are set by State law:1. State Organization- chairperson and the State Central Committee2. Local Organization- follow the electoral map of a State ◦ Ward: a unit into which cities are often divided for the election of city council members ◦ Precinct: the smallest unit of election administration
1. The party organization ◦ Party’s leaders, activists, and all those who contribute [time, money, and skills]2. The party in the electorate ◦ Appealing to the party’s loyalists ◦ They call themselves party members3. The party in government ◦ Party’s officeholders
Americans (for the most part) have excepted the necessity for political parties in our country However, these same people believe that political parties need to be controlled and regulated ◦ Limited Government
The current weakness of political parties can be traced back to several factors. Political Parties have been in a period of decline ever since the late 1960s ◦ The unpopular Vietnam War
1. Sharp drop in number of voters who classify themselves as Republican or Democrat ◦ Rise in Independents/Minor Parties2. Split-Ticket Voting: voting for candidates of different parties for different offices at the same election ◦ A true system with bipartisan behaviors
3. Making parties more “open” to internal conflict4. Changes in technology Changes in media and campaigning5. Growth of single-issue organizations in our politics ◦ Putting previous concerns and focusing on one issue ◦ Currently the (world) economy
One-Party System Split-ticket Voting Plurality Incumbent Factions Major Party Partisanship Electorate Two-Party System Splinter Parties Multiparty Sectionalism Bipartisan Coalition