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
America’s Political PartiesAmerica’s Political Parties
Democrats and Republicans – what’s theDemocrats and Republicans – what’s the
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?
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
Do they agree on anything?
How does one join a political
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
What powers and how much
power the federal gov’t should
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
A party not R or D; try to get on
ballot or get issues before the
Why only two?Why only two?
Historical roots:Historical roots:
Fight over ratification of
Fears of too strong a gov’t
Concerns over state rights
Results in Federalist v.
Those two basic positions
resulted in a two-party
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!”
Why only two?Why only two?
Reflects American political
culture [federalism for one]
Far more stable than a multi-
Yet more democratic than a
The two major parties are
loosely organized and very
The two major parties have all
the advantages with media,
voter activity and funding
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
Implied v. delegated power?
Gay rights issues?
Foreign policy issues?
Social Security; Medicare,
welfare programs, etc.
Including affirmative action
Notice how the parties’
position on the first issue
drives their position on most
of the others [remember the
Federalists and anti-
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?
What do political parties do?
Get their members elected!Get their members elected!
Constant campaigningConstant campaigning
Running the government/shapingRunning the government/shaping
Watchdog on the other partyWatchdog on the other party
Get party ideas/message out to theGet party ideas/message out to the
Organize the Convention/draftOrganize the Convention/draft
party platformparty platform
LinkageLinkage between party membersbetween party members
and governmentand government
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
Third parties form for variousThird parties form for various
Dissenters split away from a majorDissenters split away from a major
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
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
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?
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
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.
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