• Political party:–a group of personswho seek to controlthe governmentthrough thewinning of electionsand holding ofpublic office.
• Another more specific definition is a politicalparty is a group of persons who want to controlgovernment for what purpose?–To affect certain public policies and programs• The (2) major parties in the US do not fit thisdefinition; they are more election oriented.
• It is clear from American history thatpolitical parties are essential to democraticgovernment.• They are the medium through whichoptions are presented to the people.
• Parties are a linkbetween people andtheir government.• How do they work to‘blunt’ conflict?–Try to bring conflictinggroups together andencouragecompromise.
• The major function ofa political party is tonominate (or name)candidates for publicoffice.• Once a candidate isnominated, what thenis the party’s function?– WIN THE ELECTION !!
• Big job for political partiesis to inform the people.• What are (3) examples ofthis?1. Campaign for candidates2. Take stance on issues3. Criticize candidates andpositions of opponents.
• Parties conduct this ‘educational’ process:–through pamphlets, signs, buttons andstickers–with advertisements– in speeches and rallies.
• In business, a bond is an agreement thatprotects a person or company against losscaused by a third party.• EXPLAIN the ‘bonding agent’ function in politics:–Parties ensure the good performance of itscandidates and officeholders.
• The party also promptsit’s successfulcandidates to performwell in office.• What happens if theparty fails with this?–Party and itscandidates maysuffer consequencesin future elections.
• Congress and theState legislatures areorganized on partylines and theyconduct much oftheir business onthe basis ofpartisanship.
• Definition:–Strong support of a political party andtheir policies.
• In the complicated separation of powersagreement, the executive and legislativebranches must cooperate with one another ifanything is to get accomplished.• Political parties can help the two branches worktogether.
• Parties act as‘watchdogs’ over theconduct of thepeople’s business.• When is thisparticularly true?– When a party is out ofpower (does notcontrol the executivebranch)
• In American politics theparty in power is theparty that controls theexecutive branch ofgovernment(President/national;Governor/state)• Party out of power playsthe role of ‘loyalopposition’.
• Definition:–Opposed to the party in power but loyalto the people and the nation.Loyal Opposition
• A minor party is one of themany political partieswithout wide votersupport.• DESCRIBE the two-party inAmerican politics.– Democrats andRepublicans are onlyparty that has reasonablechance of winning publicoffice in US.
• A number of factorshelp to explain whyAmerica has had andcontinues to have atwo-party system.• There are four majorreasons that canexplain this:
• The Framers of the Constitutionwere opposed to political parties.
• Argument over theratification of thenew Constitution.1. Federalists2. Anti-Federalists• Democratic-Republicans
• Once established,human institutions arelikely to be self-perpetuating.• Why do most Americansaccept the idea of a two-party system?–Because there hasalways been thissystem!
• Several features ofthe Americanelectoral systemto tend topromote theexistence of thetwo major parties:
• Single memberdistricts:–contests in whichonly one candidateis elected to eachoffice on theballot.
• Definition:–The largest numberof votes for an office.–NOTE: a pluralityneed not be amajority (which ismore than half of allvotes cast)
• Much of Americanelection law ispurposely written todiscourage non-majorparty candidates• Republicans andDemocrats work in abipartisan (worktogether) way.
• Definition:–When both major political parties worktogether on an issue.
• How do they majorparties make itdifficult for thesmaller ones?–Election laws areshaped to frustratethe minor parties.–Can’t get on ballot ortake part in debates.
• Over time, the Americanpeople have shared manyof the same ideas, thesame basic principles, andthe same patterns ofbelief.• Americans are not alike;the US is a pluralisticsociety: one consisting ofseveral distinct culturesand groups.
• Americans come to a consensus (a generalagreement among various groups) onfundamental matters, but the nation hasbeen divided at times• How has this ideological consensus made the2 major parties look alike?–Both parties tend to be moderate and tryto occupy “the middle of the road” to getmore voters.
• A system in which severalmajor and many lesserparties exist, seriouslycompete for, and actuallywin, public offices –European democracies.• What are the parties inthis system based on?–A particular interest.
• Weakness here is thatone party is oftenunable to win thesupport of a majorityof the voters.• The result is that thatpower to govern mustbe shared by a numberof parties in acoalition.
• DEFINE:–A temporaryalliance of severalgroups who cometogether to form aworking majorityand so to controlgovernment.
• The one-party system is really a NO PARTYsystem.• Usually found in dictatorships today.
• How can parts of theUnited States bedescribed as ‘one-party’?–In certain parts ofthe US, only onepolitical party has areal chance to win.
• Membership in a party is purely voluntary –an individual chooses to be a Democrat,Republican, independent, or join a minorparty.• The two major parties are broadly based inorder to attract as much support as they can–they try to get a cross-section ofAmerica’s population.
• Individuals identifythemselves with aparty for many reasonswith family as a key-deciding factor.• It is also true thatcertain segments of theelectorate tend to bealigned with one of themajor parties – for atime:
• African-Americans• Women• Catholics and Jews• Union Members• Urban areas ofcountry• Protestants• Males• Businesscommunity• Rural sections ofcountry
• Formed around AlexanderHamilton.• Appealed to financial,manufacturing andcommercial interests.• Wanted a strong nationalgovernment and executive.• What was their view of theConstitution?– Liberal (loose) interpretation
• Key leader ThomasJefferson.• Appealed to shopkeepers,laborers, farmers andplanters.• Wanted a limited nationalgovernment where Congresswould have more power.• What was their view of theConstitution?– Strict interpretation
• The history of theAmerican partysystem since 1800can be divided into (4) majorperiods:
• Jefferson’s election in 1800 marked the beginning ofDemocrat domination until the Civil War.• When had the Federalists disappeared?– Defeated in 1800, disappeared altogether by 1816
• By the mid-1820s, theDemocrats weresplitting up intofactions:–Democrats–Whigs• FACTIONS are groupswith conflictinginterests.
• Andrew Jackson• A coalition of farmers, debtors, frontierpioneers and slaveholders. Support from Southand West.• What were the (3) fundamental changes topolitical landscape?1. Voting rights for all white males2. Increase in number of elected offices in US3. Spread of spoils system (rewarding loyal partymembers with offices, jobs, contracts)
• Henry Clay, Daniel Webster.• A loose coalition of easternbankers, merchants andindustrialists, largeslaveholders.• Were able to elect (2)presidents based mainly onwhat?–Military records ofcandidates
• By the 1850s thegrowing crisis overslavery split both majorparties and theRepublican Party wasfounded in 1854.• Ran John C. Fremont in1856 for thepresidency.
• Starting with Lincoln, the GOP dominated the nationalscene for 75 years starting with the Civil War.• Who did the Republicans get support from?–Business/financial interests and newly freedslaves
• Crippled by the war, were able to survive mainlythrough their hold on the “Solid South”.• Worked to rebuild their base, but were only able toelect a president twice – Grover Cleveland in 1884and 1892• WHY? Unprecedented prosperity in the country.
Republicans DemocratsCandidate William McKinley William J. BryanSupporters Big business, urbanareas of countryFarmers, labor unions,small businessesKeyIssueSupported the GOLDSTANDARDSupported the SILVERSTANDARD
• Electorate–people eligible tovote.• Sectionalism–emphasizes adevotion to theinterests of aparticular region ofthe country.
• Split the Republicans between incumbentPresident Howard Taft and former presidentTheodore Roosevelt.• This split enabled whom to win the presidencyin 1912 and 1916?–Democrat Woodrow Wilson• However, the Republicans were able to win thenext (3) elections throughout the 1920s.
• The Great Depression returned the Democrats tonational prominence until 1968.• What was their new electoral base?– Southerners, unions, big-city political machines,minorities
• Democrats controlled theWhite House from 1932-1952; 1960-1968• Who won the Republican’sonly (2) presidentialvictories of this era?–Dwight D. Eisenhower
• Starting with the election of 1968, neitherpolitical party dominated national politics.• The years since Richard Nixon’s election in1968 have been marked by dividedgovernment.
• Republican RichardNixon wins in 1968• What were theDemocrats split over?–The Vietnam War• Independent candidateGeorge Wallace - lastminor party candidate towin any electoral votes.
• Richard Nixon easilywins reelection overGeorge McGovernand the still dividedDemocrats but isforced to resign in1974 (Watergate).
• Gerald Ford (whotook over for Nixon)lost a close electionto Georgia governorJimmy Carter.• What hurt Ford?–His pardoning ofRichard Nixon
• Republicans back in power with twolandslide victories by Ronald Reagan.
• George HW Bush (Reagan’s VicePresident) wins over Michael Dukakis.
• Democrats regainthe Presidency with2 victories by BillClinton.• What role did H.Ross Perot play?–Spoiler role
• Republicans andGeorge W. Bush win (2)very close elections.
• Democrat Barack H. Obama wins historicelection and Democrats return to power.
• Define DividedGovernment:–One party controlsExecutive Branch(Presidency)–Other party controlsthe LegislativeBranch (Congress)
• The number andvariety of minorparties make it difficultto describe and classifythem.• Some have limitedtheir efforts to a smallarea or region; somehave tried to woo theentire nation.
• Minor parties arenumerous in America.• Often short lived, butcan play an importantrole in the Americanpolitical process.• There are (4) distincttypes of minor partiesin America….
Examples:Socialist,CommunistDon’t get manyVotes and areShort livedWhat is thistype of partybased on?IdeologicalpartyParticular set of beliefs =view of social, economic, andpolitical matters
(3)Major party“borrows”their idea(2)Fail toattractvoters(1)Events passThem by..Free SoilKnow NothingRight to LifeFocus on oneissueand theirName is keySingle issueParty
Regionalparties:West orSouthWhere istheir angerfocused?Disgustedwith MajorPartiesRooted inperiods ofeconomicunrestEconomicProtestPartiesGreenback PartyPopulist PartyReal or imaginedenemies = bankersor monetary system
usually fadeswhen leadersteps asideCenteredaroundStrongPersonalityparties thathave splitaway fromMAJORSplinterParties
• Even though Americansdo not support them,minor parties still havehad an impact on themajor parties:1. Spoiler Role2. Role of critic andinnovator
• A strong 3rd partycandidate can play the“spoiler role”• EXPLAIN this role:– Minor party candidatetakes votes from on ofthe major parties andcan ‘spoil’ theelection.
• Minor parties take clear-cut stands oncontroversial issues.• Minor parties have brought attention to issuesthat the major parties preferred to ignore orstraddle.• How has the innovator role been a source offrustration for minor parties?–Major party takes idea and presents the ideaas their own.
• Both parties are highlydecentralized,fragmented, disjointed,and often beset byfactions and internalsquabbling.• Local parties are oftenloosely tied with theState party; State partiesthe same with theNational party.
• President’ s party isusually more solidlyunified and morecohesively organizedthan the opposingparty.• The President isautomatically the partyleader.
• How does he assertthat leadership?1. Access to media2. Popularity3. Power to makeappointments tofederal office.
• Because thegovernmentalsystem in the UnitedStates is highlydecentralized(elected offices atmany levels), so arethe political parties.
• The nominating process is also a major cause ofparty decentralization and (2) aspects of thisprocess help to explain this:1. Candidate selection is an intraparty process2. What is the process like?– Very divisive for a party – the fight can be“bloody” and damaging
• The structure of bothmajor parties at thenational level has (4)basic elements:1. National Convention2. National Committee3. National Chairperson4. CongressionalCampaign Committees
• Often described as theparty’s national voice,it meets in the summerof every presidentialelection year.• What does theconvention work on?–Party rules andplatform
• Between conventions, the national committeeand national chairperson handle the party’saffairs, at least in theory.• Both parties have expanded the committee’smembership in recent years: representativesfrom states, territories, and other groups.• Do these committees have any power?–No real power
• Chairperson is the leader of the nationalcommittee and is chosen by the committee fora 4-year term.• During presidential election year – Chairworks on the national convention and thenthe campaign.• What do the chairpersons do between thepresidential elections?–Work to strengthen party by raising moneyand recruiting new voters.
• These committeeswork to reelectincumbents and tomake sure that seatsgiven up by retiringmembers remain in theparty.• Also work to unseatincumbents in theother party.
• The two majorparties can also beexamined from asocial standpoint –that is, in terms ofthe various rolesplayed by theirmembers.
1. The Party Organization• Party leaders, activists, and its hangers-on.2. The Party in the Electorate• Who makes up this component?• Party loyalists who vote a straight ticket3. The Party in Government• These are the party’s officeholders, those thathold elective and appointive offices in theexecutive, judicial, or legislative branches.
• Political parties havebeen in a period ofdecline since the late1960s.• The present, weakenedstate of the parties canbe traced to severalfactors:
More IndependentsGrowing number of voters identify as IndependentSplit-Ticket VotingVoting for candidates of different parties at thesame electionChanges and ReformIntroduction of direct primary and campaignfinance laws have made parties more open.
Campaign ChangesCandidates less dependent on parties becauseof television, internet, social mediaSingle-Issue organizationsGrowth and power of these organizations hasweakened political parties.