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WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO,WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO,
AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE.AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE.
[HISTORY, ORGANI...
Democrats and Republicans – what’s theDemocrats and Republicans – what’s the
deal?deal?
What’s all the fuss about?What’s ...
Political Parties – a pre-testPolitical Parties – a pre-test
 What are the two major parties
in the U.S.?
 What animals ...
Why only two?Why only two?
Historical roots:Historical roots:
 Fight over ratification of
the Constitution
 Fears of to...
Why only two?Why only two?
Political realities
 Reflects American political
culture [federalism for one]
 Far more stab...
So what do Democrats and Republicans believe?So what do Democrats and Republicans believe?
[Besides that the other party i...
What do political parties do?
Get their members elected!Get their members elected!
Constant campaigningConstant campaigni...
So what’s a third party, and why don’t they get aSo what’s a third party, and why don’t they get a
clue?clue?
Third parti...
Third parties and the stacked deckThird parties and the stacked deck
Most see a vote for a third party candidate as aMost...
Party organizationParty organization
At the national level – RNC andAt the national level – RNC and
DNC – the job is to:D...
Party organizationParty organization
Local organization follows the voting district planLocal organization follows the vo...
Party organization, local continuedParty organization, local continued
Local level is a place toLocal level is a place to...
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America’s political parties

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our two party system; overview of party structure and functions

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America’s political parties

  1. 1. WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO,WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO, AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE.AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE. [HISTORY, ORGANIZATION AND[HISTORY, ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS]FUNCTIONS] America’s Political PartiesAmerica’s Political Parties
  2. 2. Democrats and Republicans – what’s theDemocrats and Republicans – what’s the deal?deal? What’s all the fuss about?What’s all the fuss about? What IS a politicalWhat IS a political partyparty?? [and do they[and do they serve beer?]serve beer?] What are theyWhat are they supposedsupposed to beto be doing anyway?doing anyway? Why can’t they work together?Why can’t they work together? What does it have to do with me?What does it have to do with me? Why does it matter what party theWhy does it matter what party the President belongs to?President belongs to? What if the party I join [if I do] isWhat if the party I join [if I do] is different from my parents?different from my parents? Why did Geo. Washington warnWhy did Geo. Washington warn against political parties?against political parties?
  3. 3. Political Parties – a pre-testPolitical Parties – a pre-test  What are the two major parties in the U.S.?  What animals symbolize them?  What does GOP stand for?  What is their most basic point of disagreement?  Do they agree on anything?  How does one join a political party?  What is the main purpose of political parties in America?  What is a third party, and what does it do?  Democratic and Republican  Donkey and Elephant  Grand Old Party = Republican party  What powers and how much power the federal gov’t should have  Democratic form of government  Say which you want to join when you register to vote or when you get your driver’s license  Getting their members elected to office  A party not R or D; try to get on ballot or get issues before the people
  4. 4. Why only two?Why only two? Historical roots:Historical roots:  Fight over ratification of the Constitution  Fears of too strong a gov’t  Concerns over state rights  Results in Federalist v. Anti-Federalist debate  Those two basic positions resulted in a two-party arrangement  Names have changed over the years, but issues have stayed much the same  Pattern, once established, has stayed “We’ve always done it this way!”
  5. 5. Why only two?Why only two? Political realities  Reflects American political culture [federalism for one]  Far more stable than a multi- party system  Yet more democratic than a one-party sys.  The two major parties are loosely organized and very inclusive  The two major parties have all the advantages with media, voter activity and funding
  6. 6. So what do Democrats and Republicans believe?So what do Democrats and Republicans believe? [Besides that the other party is made up of morons?][Besides that the other party is made up of morons?] Proper size and power of the federal gov’t? Implied v. delegated power? Abortion? Gun control? Taxation? Education? Crime? Environmental issues? Business regulation? Health care? Gay rights issues? Foreign policy issues?  Entitlement programs?  Social Security; Medicare, welfare programs, etc.  Minorities?  Including affirmative action programs  Notice how the parties’ position on the first issue drives their position on most of the others [remember the Federalists and anti- Federalists?]  Question: do you have to agree on all or most of a party’s position on these issues in order to join it or belong to it?
  7. 7. What do political parties do? Get their members elected!Get their members elected! Constant campaigningConstant campaigning Running the government/shapingRunning the government/shaping policypolicy Watchdog on the other partyWatchdog on the other party Get party ideas/message out to theGet party ideas/message out to the peoplepeople Organize the Convention/draftOrganize the Convention/draft party platformparty platform LinkageLinkage between party membersbetween party members and governmentand government
  8. 8. So what’s a third party, and why don’t they get aSo what’s a third party, and why don’t they get a clue?clue? Third parties form for variousThird parties form for various reasons:reasons:  Dissenters split away from a majorDissenters split away from a major partyparty  A single-issue group organizesA single-issue group organizes  A strong leader figure gets a followingA strong leader figure gets a following Third parties have never won theThird parties have never won the presidencypresidency  Well, maybe onceWell, maybe once So what’s the point?So what’s the point?  Winning other officesWinning other offices  Getting their issues on the radarGetting their issues on the radar  Can advance agenda, influence a majorCan advance agenda, influence a major party or affect election outcomesparty or affect election outcomes
  9. 9. Third parties and the stacked deckThird parties and the stacked deck Most see a vote for a third party candidate as aMost see a vote for a third party candidate as a “wasted” vote, so they’ll vote for a major party“wasted” vote, so they’ll vote for a major party States manage all elections in their state. GuessStates manage all elections in their state. Guess who makes up state government? [federalism]who makes up state government? [federalism] So, major party candidates are on the ballotSo, major party candidates are on the ballot automatically. Third party candidates have toautomatically. Third party candidates have to work at it.work at it. Media attention, and especially money go more toMedia attention, and especially money go more to the major party candidates.the major party candidates. Televised debates usually only have the majorTelevised debates usually only have the major party candidates participating. Guess who runsparty candidates participating. Guess who runs the debates?the debates?
  10. 10. Party organizationParty organization At the national level – RNC andAt the national level – RNC and DNC – the job is to:DNC – the job is to:  plan for the nextplan for the next conventionconvention  Help identify candidatesHelp identify candidates  Support campaigns and fund raiseSupport campaigns and fund raise  Be a voice for the party. [But theBe a voice for the party. [But the main voice is members in office]main voice is members in office]  The keeper of theThe keeper of the party platformparty platform Often difficult for the party org.Often difficult for the party org. to control its members in officeto control its members in office  MoreMore independent votersindependent voters  Office holders and candidates noOffice holders and candidates no longer as dependent on the party duelonger as dependent on the party due to new technologiesto new technologies
  11. 11. Party organizationParty organization Local organization follows the voting district planLocal organization follows the voting district plan Ward and precinct “bosses” often keep party activists wellWard and precinct “bosses” often keep party activists well organized and effective, exercising more control than theorganized and effective, exercising more control than the national organization. This is the “grassroots” level.national organization. This is the “grassroots” level.
  12. 12. Party organization, local continuedParty organization, local continued Local level is a place toLocal level is a place to connect with the party andconnect with the party and get involvedget involved  Volunteering at the pollsVolunteering at the polls  Canvassing [door-to-door]Canvassing [door-to-door]  Fundraising eventsFundraising events  Campaign activities [puttingCampaign activities [putting out signs, blogging, answeringout signs, blogging, answering phone, etc.]phone, etc.]  Taking pollsTaking polls

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