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Democracy Under Pressure


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Title: Democracy Under Pressure

Democracy Under Pressure
  • Chapter 9
  • Political Parties

Political Parties
  • When Senator John Kerry accepted the 2004
    Democratic party nomination for president, he
    pledged to fight terrorism and "restore trust and
    credibility to the White House."
  • Many voters felt they really did not know Kerry,
    despite his well-publicized Vietnam war record
    and his antiwar activism afterwards. Moreover,
    he was challenging the incumbent.
  • Kerry was described as "Lincolnesque", but had
    difficulty connecting with voters on a personal
  • Despite a passionate speech, Kerry received very
    little of the "convention bounce."

Political Parties
  • The Republicans chose New York City for their
    convention site, in order to emphasize Bush's
    leadership after the 9/11 attacks. Bush
    repeatedly invoked 9/11 and the dangers of
    terrorism to America.
  • Despite the advantages of being the incumbent,
    Bush had reason to be concerned-most Americans
    considered themselves Democrats rather than
    Republicans. The gap between the two parties had

Democracy Under Pressure
  • What Is a Party?

What Is a Party?
  • What is a party? There are many ways to describe
    a party, according to Frank Sorauf.
  • Voters, a majority of whom consider themselves
    Democrats or Republicans.
  • Party leaders, outside of government, who handle
    the party apparatus and can use it as a power
  • Party activists, who perform the day-to-day,
    grass-roots work.

What Is a Party?
  • Party leaders in government who include the
    president, leaders in Congress, and state and
    local leaders.
  • A major party is a broad-based coalition that
    seeks to gain control of government by winning
  • Political parties are less powerful today because
    PACs, campaign managers, and interest groups have
    taken over many duties parties used to perform
    for candidates. Political parties in a democracy
    are different from those in totalitarian systems.

What Is a Party?
  • In democracies, parties help manage the peaceful
    transfer of power in government.
  • a. In totalitarian systems, power is not
    relinquished without force.
  • b. Parties in the United States serve other
    functions for the political system
  • i. They manage the succession of power.
  • ii. They offer competing candidates for office,
    and policy alternatives.
  • iii. They operate the machinery for nominations,
    campaigns, and elections.

What Is a Party?
  • They help mobilize demands and support (inputs)
    for the system and participate in developing
    policy (outputs).
  • The party in power defends the status quo, and
    opposing parties describe a need for change.
  • Parties channel public support or opposition.
  • They hold officials accountable to voters.
  • They recruit candidates.
  • Parties hold officials accountable to the voters.

What Is a Party?
  • Parties are different from interest groups.
    Parties run candidates for office, interest
    groups do not.
  • Interest groups are oriented toward narrow issue
  • Parties try to form winning coalitions by
    creating combinations powerful enough to govern.
  • Winning parties reconcile conflicting groups to
    get broad enough support to win elections.
  • Their victorious presidential candidate appoints
    cabinet, staff, and other department heads to run
    the executive branch.
  • He appeals to legislative branch members of his
    party for party loyalty to get his program
  • This linkage in the governmental process helps to
    organize and run government down to the state and
    local levels.

Democracy Under Pressure
  • The Development of American Political Parties

The Development of American Political Parties
  • The Founding Fathers did not provide for parties,
    but did provide for the regular election of the
    president and Congress.
  • James Madison's famous reminder in The Federalist
    No. 10 said that we should expect to have
    factions and parties in the "necessary and
    ordinary operation of the government."
  • Washington warned against their divisiveness in
    his farewell address.
  • Still, the party system took shape in the 1790s
    while Washington was still president.

Federalists and Democratic-Republicans
  • Federalists, organized under Alexander Hamilton,
    were the first national political party in the
    United States. They stood for a strong central
    government, appealing to banking and commercial
  • Democratic-Republicans, founded by Thomas
    Jefferson, were a mix of small farmers, debtors,
    Southern plantation owners, frontiersmen, and
    later, big city organizations like the Sons of
    Tammany in New York.

Federalists and Democratic-Republicans
  • Jefferson's win in 1800 began a 28-year
    ascendancy of his party.
  • Federalists didn't try to win the presidency
    after 1816. The Era of Good Feeling with little
    partisan activity followed until 1828.

Democrats and Whigs
  • The election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 began a
    new era of two-party rivalry, which was mainly
    due to the Democrat-Republicans splitting into
  • Democrats became the party of the aspirations of
    the common man.
  • The Whigs, led by Henry Clay, William Henry
    Harrison, and Daniel Webster, were a coalition of
    bankers, merchants, and southern planters who
    bonded through their distaste for Jacksonian

Democrats and Whigs
  • Clinton Rossiter said "Out of the conflict of
    Democrats and Whigs emerged the American
    political system. . . . "
  • Two major parties and a sprinkling of third
  • National nominating conventions.
  • State and local bosses.
  • Patronage and popular campaigning.
  • Presidency-centered politics.
  • Slavery caused the Democratic party to split into
    northern and southern wings.

Democrats and Republicans
  • The new Republican Party grew out of antislavery
    society in February of 1854. It was a new party,
    not just a new version of the Whigs.
  • a. It opposed the extension of slavery into the
  • b. Their first candidate, John C. Fremont, was
    unsuccessful in 1856.
  • c. In 1860 it nominated Lincoln, who won against
    a slavery-divided Democratic Party with 39.8
    percent of the popular vote. Lincoln preserved
    the union and consolidated the party.

Democrats and Republicans
  • d. For the next 25 years, the GOP, as it came to
    be known, consolidated its hold on the White
    House and Congress.
  • i. The Democrats remained the party of the South,
    slavery, and defeat.
  • ii. By 1876 Democrats were able to mount
    competitive races.
  • iii. In 1884 and 1892, Democrat Grover Cleveland
    was elected.

Democrats and Republicans
  • After the Civil War, this nation of immigrants
    faced industrialization. Railroad and steel
    magnates amassed huge wealth and farmers felt
    left out.
  • Agrarian discontent led to the creation of the
    Grangers, the Greenbackers, and the Populist
    (People's) Party. Their strength was mostly in
    the West.

Democrats and Republicans
  • By 1896, the Democrats had taken on the populist
    message with a "free silver" platform and William
    Jennings Bryan as their candidate. He lost to
    Republican William McKinley.
  • GOP winner William McKinley defended the gold
    standard and conservative fiscal policies as he
    led a coalition of Eastern business interests,
    urban workers, Midwest farmers, and New

Democrats and Republicans
  • Teddy Roosevelt held the new coalition together
    from 1901 to 1909, but it fractured in 1912.
  • The Conservative wing renominated Taft.
  • The Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party nominated
    Teddy Roosevelt, giving the election over to
    Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
  • Wilson's two terms were a short Democratic era.
  • The Harding and Coolidge presidencies in the
    1920s created a "Big Business era" and numerous

Democrats and Republicans
  • The stock market crash and the depression caused
    a major shift in allegiances, much like the Civil
    War had.
  • The result of these events was the election of
    FDR in 1932 and 20 years of uninterrupted
    Democratic rule.
  • In 1952, the GOP, with Eisenhower as its
    standard-bearer, recaptured the White House. He
    was followed by Democrats JFK and LBJ. LBJ
    garnered 61 percent of the vote in 1964.

Democrats and Republicans
  • In 1964 Barry Goldwater moved the GOP to the
    right and lost in a landslide.
  • Showing GOP resilience and reinforcing the
    two-party system, Republicans regrouped under
    Nixon and won in 1968. The war in Vietnam helped
    to defeat LBJ.
  • Urban riots also hurt LBJ and helped to convince
    him not to run.
  • Nixon's 1972 landslide was eclipsed by the
    resignation of his vice president, the Watergate
    scandals, and his own resignation, helping Jimmy
    Carter win in 1976.

Democrats and Republicans
  • Even Watergate could not endanger the system. In
    1980 and 1984, the GOP won by landslides and they
    made inroads in Congress, including a short-lived
    Senate majority.

Democrats and Republicans
  • The ability of the parties to survive adversity
    rests on the fact that many districts are
    dominated by one party. Even when defeated, it
    still has pockets of power across the nation.
  • Reagan carried 49 states in 1984, but the
    Democrats retained 34 state governorships and
    control of the House of Representatives.
  • Democrats recaptured the Senate in 1986, with
    Bush facing a Congress controlled by Democrats.
  • In 1992, both the presidency and Congress were
    controlled by the Democrats, but in 1994, the
    Republicans captured control of Congress.

Democracy Under Pressure
  • The Two-Party System

The Two-Party System
  • The two-party system has prevailed throughout
    most of our history.
  • Winning the nomination of one of the two major
    parties is half the battle for many candidates.
  • In some one-party states, winning in the
    primaries means virtually automatic election
  • From 1828 to the present, the two major parties
    have consistently gotten 90 percent or more of
    the vote.
  • George Wallace and his American Independent Party
    received 13.5 percent of the popular vote in 1968.

The Two-Party System
  • Independent Eugene McCarthy got less than 1
    percent of the vote in 1976. John Anderson
    defected from the GOP, campaigned hard, and got
    only 6.6 percent of the popular votes and no
    electoral votes in 1980.
  • In 1992, independent Ross Perot made the
    strongest showing of any candidate who was not a
    major-party nominee since Teddy Roosevelt ran in
  • In 1992 he got 19 million votes (19 percent) of
    the popular vote. In 1996 his support had eroded
  • In 2000, two minor parties received attention
    conservative Pat Buchanan was nominated by Ross
    Perot's Reform Party and consumer activist Ralph
    Nader was nominated by the Green Party.

The Roots of Dualism
  • America has always been a two-party nation.
  • Tradition and history.
  • Dualism is as old as the nation. It is accepted,
    in part, because it has always been there.
  • The electoral system.
  • The system of elections favors two parties.
  • In a single-member-per-district Congress, the
    winner takes all.

The Roots of Dualism
  • A presidential candidate with the most popular
    votes in a state usually gets all of the state's
  • Minor parties lack the strong geographic base
    needed to win and instead disappear.
  • State election laws often make it difficult for
    minor parties to get on the ballot.
  • Patterns of belief.
  • Ideological differences in American voters are
    not so intense that we have as many ideological
    parties as exist in Western Europe.

Democrat and Republicans Is There a Difference?
  • Neither party has the support of a majority of
    U.S. voters, so they must garner support from
    outside their party.
  • To win a presidential election, candidates
    usually appeal to the great mass of voters in the
    ideological center.

Democrat and Republicans Is There a Difference?
  • Where the parties diverge on issues
  • GOP leaders identify with business, free
    enterprise, and economic conservatism.
  • Democrats are pro-labor and support government
    regulation of the economy.
  • According to a survey of leaders in 2004, 77
    percent of Democratic delegates agreed that the
    government enacting anti-terrorism laws
    excessively restrict civil liberties. Only 15
    percent of Republicans agreed with that statement.

Democrat and Republicans Is There a Difference?
  • Eighty-six percent of Democratic delegates said
    that the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq,
    compared to only three percent of Republican
  • Forty-nine percent of Republican delegates agreed
    that gay couples should not have legal
    recognition, compared to five percent of

The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence
  • Fading party loyalties among voters have become
    evident in recent years.
  • Ladd and Hadley contend the drop-off has been
    dramatic over the last decade to the point that
    the public is indifferent to it.
  • Martin Wattenberg found a large part of the
    public views parties with indifference.

The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence
  • Austin Ranney has observed that an almost
    "no-party" system has developed in presidential
  • GOP candidate Ronald Reagan won 58 percent of the
    vote, while less than one-third of the voters
    identified themselves as Republicans.
  • Non-party candidate Ross Perot got nearly one of
    five votes cast in 1992.

The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence
  • Various reasons have been suggested for the
    decline in party ties
  • A more educated electorate with less need for
    guidance from a party.
  • Increased split-ticket voting.
  • Increasing importance of television and news
    media, and the breakup of old alignments within
    major parties.
  • Professionals now provide services once provided
    by the parties. Functions of the party have been
    taken over by PACs, campaign managers, and
    interest groups.
  • Decline in urban political machines. Candidates
    no longer rely on parties to run campaigns.

The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence
  • Decline does not mean political parties are
    becoming extinct.

The Democrats
  • One way to look at the differences between the
    two major parties is to examine their images.
  • The "typical" Democrat lives in a big city in the
    North, is a member of a minority or ethnic group,
    drinks beer, belongs to a union, works on an
    assembly line, goes bowling, and is low-income.
  • This contrasts with the "typical" Republican a
    well-paid, white Protestant who lives in the
    suburbs in a split-level house, commutes to the
    city, belongs to a country club, and drinks

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The Democrats
  • The preceding caricatures are overdrawn.
  • The Democratic base has changed since the New
  • They've lost ground with some of their old
    constituencies unionists and big-city and
    Southern whites.
  • They've made up for those losses with gains among
    the upper-middle class.
  • GOP has lost ground among young people of
    relative privilege (i.e., yuppies).

The Democrats
  • Studies seem to mirror reality, to an extent.
  • Democrats tend to gain support from labor,
    African Americans, Jews, ethnic minorities, young
    people, those with low incomes, and city
  • GOP more likely to be white, suburban,
    Protestant, rural, older, wealthier,
    college-educated, and professionals or business

The Democrats
  • Many of these patterns are changing.
  • In the 1992 election, Catholics, a Democratic
    mainstay, moved away from the party. Forty-two
    percent of white Catholics under 30 identified
    themselves as Republicans.
  • Hispanics voted Republican in that year.

The Democrats
  • Socioeconomic factors may better correlate with
    voter preferences.
  • In a survey, half of people with low incomes
    identified with the Democrats but only 26 percent
    of the low-income group identified with the GOP.
  • The gender gap was also evident in 1996, with 54
    percent of women and 44 percent of men voting
  • Democrats see themselves as the "inclusive"
    party, according to political scientist Jo
    Freeman, while the GOP sees itself as
    representing the core of American society and as
    a carrier of its fundamental values.

The Democrats
  • Since 1932, Democrats are the party of Franklin
    Roosevelt and the New Deal.
  • The Fair Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society,
    which sought to use federal funds and energy to
    solve social problems, were patterned after the
    New Deal.
  • Clinton called himself a New Democrat in 1992,
    but philosophically he supported the party's
    traditional views.
  • In 2000, Democrat Al Gore proposed to pay for
    prescription drugs.

The Democrats
  • FDR's grand coalition still has two distinct
    halves Southern moderates and Northern urban
  • The old South is no longer a solid Democratic
  • They went solidly for Nixon in 1972.
  • By 1980, Jimmy Carter only carried his home
    state, Georgia. In 1984 Mondale did not carry any
    southern states, and in 1988 Dukakis also failed
    to carry any.
  • Clinton, a southerner, carried only four southern
    states in 1992.

The Democrats
  • Democrats are labeled as the party of social
    innovation. Democrats tend to be more raucous,
    while Republicans are more sedate.
  • However, in 2004, Democrats showed unusual
    harmony in choosing John Kerry.
  • Today, the conventions tend to be carefully
    scripted and manicured for television.

The Republicans
  • In describing the party, Theodore White sees the
    old Protestant-Puritan ethic of small towns and
    the belief that the individual (man or
    corporation) can produce the common good more
    swiftly and better than big government.
  • In recent decades, people who identify themselves
    as Democrats have outnumbered people who say they
    are Republicans.
  • Despite five presidential election wins from 1968
    to 1998, the GOP has tried to widen its appeal.

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The Republicans
  • Democrats are partially accurate when they call
    the GOP "the party of Big Business." Democrats
    have traditionally been known as the party of
    organized labor.
  • The GOP got 221 million in campaign money from
    businesses in 2000.
  • By July 2004, the GOP received 225 million from
  • GOP administration regulators have been gentle
    with the businesses they were regulating.

The Republicans
  • Like the Democrats, the GOP has a split
  • Since 1912 there have been moderate and
    conservative wings.
  • In the convention of 1952, the conservative Taft
    wing battled the Eisenhower moderates for the
  • Other examples include the 1964 Goldwater versus
    Rockefeller fight the 1968 battle with Reagan on
    the right, Nixon in the center, and Rockefeller
    and George Romney on the left and, the
    Reagan-Ford battle in 1976.

The Republicans
  • The split surfaced again in 1999 during the vote
    on the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
  • In the 1980s and 1990s, the Christian Coalition
    and conservative religious groups supported Bush
    and later Dole and the GOP ticket, fearing social
    breakdown and moral decay from the Democratic

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Minor Parties and Independent Candidates
  • They have been active throughout our history.
    Examples the Anti-Masons of the 1830s the
    Greenbackers of the 1880s the Populists of the
    1890s and the Progressives of the 1920s.
  • In 1986, American Independents under Governor
    George Wallace of Alabama scared the major
    parties, fearing he'd have enough electoral votes
    to keep a major candidate from winning in the
    electoral college. He only got 46 electors and
    13.5 percent of the popular vote.

Minor Parties and Independent Candidates
  • In 1992 Ross Perot spent 63.4 million of his own
    funds and got 19 percent of the vote. In 1996 he
    took 29 million in federal matching funds and
    still lost.
  • Other candidates are less funded. In 1980,
    independent candidate John Anderson did not carry
    a single state, but did better than most with 6.6
    percent of the popular vote.

Minor Parties and Independent Candidates
  • V. O. Key, Jr., suggests that minor parties fall
    into two broad categories
  • Those formed to propagate a particular doctrine,
    like the Prohibitionists and Socialists.
  • Transient third-party movements, including
    economic protest parties like the Populists, the
    Greenbackers, and the Progressives of 1924 and
    secessionists like the Progressives of 1912 and
    the Dixiecrats of 1948.
  • Sometimes third parties have strong nativist
    tendencies. The Know-Nothings and Wallace's
    (1968) American Independent party are examples.

Minor Parties and Independent Candidates
  • There also are special state third parties, like
    the Liberals and Conservatives in New York.
  • It is noted that major parties tend to absorb the
    third parties. And no minor party has risen to
    become a major party nor a major dropped to a

Democracy Under Pressure
  • Party Structure

Party Structure
  • American political parties are more loosely
    organized (decentralized).
  • Rather than a system with power flowing down, it
    is a series of layers of a party, with each layer
    concerned first about elections in its area.

National Political Parties
  • National party organization is the trophy
    bestowed on the winner of the nomination and
    election for president.
  • Lose the election, and you must relinquish the
    party apparatus to someone else.
  • The national convention, which nominates the
    party's candidates for president and vice
    president, writes the platform, settles disputes,
    writes party rules, and elects the national

National Political Parties
  • The national chairperson, formally elected by the
    national committee, is in practice picked by the
    winning presidential nominee.
  • The national committee is the governing body of
    the party. Members are chosen from each state.
  • In the past, the committees were little more than
    the permanent offices of the party that house the
    national chairperson and the staff.
  • Recently, they have been involved between
    presidential elections in public relations,
    patronage, research, and fund-raising.

National Political Parties
  • Presidential nominees largely ignore the national
    committee, preferring to build a personal
    organization to run the campaign.
  • Further decentralizing the parties is the
    practice of having congressional and senatorial
    campaign committees in Congress, chosen by the
    party members in Congress, and not tied to the
    national committee. These committees help members
    with their reelection efforts with money,
    speakers, campaign advice, and assistance.

State and Local Parties
  • Laws governing parties vary widely from state to
  • State parties are under the control of the
    governors, with mayors of large cities carrying
    clout in many northern industrial cities.
  • When the other party has the governorship, the
    party chairperson has more personal influence
    but in some states the party is run by a single
    party boss-either an elected government official
    or party officer.

State and Local Parties
  • David Mayhew classified many states as having
    "traditional party organizations" that are
    independent and highly organized, seeking to
    nominate candidates to a wide range of offices.
    They offer rewards to loyal followers.
  • There are great variations in party politics from
    state to state. The Democrats in Alabama are very
    different from the ones in Michigan.
  • Some state parties have big city versus the rest
    of the state cleavages, as in Cook County
    (Chicago) and downstate Illinois.

State and Local Parties
  • The possibility of riding into office on a
    winning presidential candidate's coattails can
    tie state parties to national ones.
  • The state committees are below the national
    committee on the party flow charts.
  • Below the state committees is the county level
    county chairs, district leaders of various sorts,
    precinct and ward captains, and party workers.

State and Local Parties
  • Patronage jobs for the party workers help hold
    the party organization together and link it with
  • Although big-city machines still exist, the
    political "boss" of the 19th and 20th centuries
    really no longer exists.

State and Local Parties
  • The urban machines drew power from vast waves of
  • The machines offered help-from food baskets to
    city jobs-in return for votes.
  • Since the 1930s, federal social programs undercut
    the city machines.
  • The establishment of the direct primary and party
    reforms also contributed to the destruction of
    boss systems like Carmine De Sapio's Tammany Hall
    and the last of the city bosses, Richard J. Daley
    of Chicago.

State and Local Parties
  • Still, people participate at the grass-roots
    level for a number of reasons that aren't merely
  • For the sheer excitement of being involved in a
    presidential campaign.
  • Being a precinct captain in some places is
  • Being a party worker might help you go to the
    quadrennial national party convention.

State and Local Parties
  • Two kinds of activists are the most common at
    various levels of the party and at the national
  • Activists are volunteers who are committed to a
    particular issue or candidate.
  • Activists supporting particular candidates for
    high office.
  • Only about 10 percent of the population could be
    called politically involved.
  • In 2000, only 18.3 million made campaign
    contributions, 10.2 million attended political
    events, and 6.1 million did political work.

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Democracy Under Pressure
  • The National Convention

The National Convention
  • The influence of television on American politics
    in 2004 is such that the conventions were
    carefully controlled, made-for-television,
    designed by producers to appeal to prime time
  • Gone are the days of gavel-to-gavel coverage when
    the conventions provided real drama.
  • In 2004, broadcast networks limited the
    Democratic convention to one hour, and only three
    of the four nights.

The National Convention
  • Even the parties carefully script the convention
    down to the minute and the tone of the speeches.
  • In most conventions, the delegates merely ratify
    what is a foregone conclusion for weeks and
    months. One wonders whether delegates have any
    meaningful power, or are they robots legally
    bound to vote for the winner of their state's
  • Although the acceptance of the nominee draws
    millions of viewers, conventions are denounced as
    a carnival and a bore.

The National Convention
  • Nelson Polsby has observed that national
    conventions survive mainly as spectacle and as
    entertainment, although they may conduct business
    of great importance to the party's future.
  • Conventions, even in 2000, can still give the
    candidate a short-lived public opinion bounce in
    their favor.

Nominating a Presidential Candidate
  • Today's national conventions are less important
    than in the past, and normally take place over
    four days in July or August.
  • If there is competition for the nomination,
    rumors fly of deals. This has not been the case
    in recent conventions. Instead, large
    corporations set up hospitality suites and throw
    lavish parties that double as fund-raisers for

Nominating a Presidential Candidate
  • Day One involves a report by the credentials
    committee on the seating of delegates, followed
    by keynoters who stir the delegates to
    commitment, setting the tone of the convention.
  • Day Two includes debating and voting on the

Nominating a Presidential Candidate
  • Day Three includes nominating speeches,
    "spontaneous" demonstrations for the candidates,
    voting by a roll call of states, and an
    acceptance speech by the vice presidential
  • Day Four finds the presidential candidate
    accepting the nomination. The presidential and
    vice presidential candidates then make their
    climactic appearance with their families before
    cheering delegates.

The Delegates
  • Who are they? A cross section of the party who
    can afford to go to the convention and stay at
    hotels during the convention.
  • Usually include governors, senators,
    representatives, mayors, state legislators, state
    party officials, and activists.
  • Delegates are chosen by a variety of methods.
    Most states select delegations in presidential
    primaries. In other states, delegates are chosen
    at state conventions, party caucuses, and state

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The Delegates
  • Since 1972, Democratic party reforms have ensured
    the participation of large numbers of women,
    blacks, youth, and Spanish-speakers.
  • Delegates chosen by state and party organizations
    are pledged by party leaders to vote for a
    particular candidate.
  • In 1980, Democratic selection rules gave
    officeholders and party officials more say in the
    nomination. In 2000 13 percent of Democratic
    delegates were elected public officeholders.

The Delegates
  • Delegates may hold stronger views than rank and
    file members. At the 2004 Democratic convention,
    75 percent of delegates thought abortion should
    be generally available, compared to 49 percent of
    Democratic voters. Forty-four percent favored gay
    marriage, compared to 36 percent of Democratic
    voters. Ninety-three percent of the delegates
    thought the war in Iraq was not worth the costs,
    compared to 85 percent of Democratic voters.

From Smoke-filled Rooms to the Television Age
  • The national convention system evolved slowly.
  • Prior to 1824, nominations for president were
    made by party caucus in Congress.
  • In that year, Andrew Jackson, who knew he would
    not be chosen by congressional caucus, led his
    supporters to bypass the caucus. He created a
    situation in which there was no majority in the
    electoral college and John Quincy Adams was
    chosen by the House.
  • In the Election of 1832, "King Caucus" was
    dethroned, giving way to the first national

From Smoke-filled Rooms to the Television Age
  • James K. Polk was elected on the eighth ballot as
    a dark horse candidate.
  • Backroom deals were made by political bosses
    operating secretly in smoke-filled rooms, as was
    the case of the GOP's nomination of Warren G.
    Harding in 1920.
  • In 1924 the Democratic convention battled to a
    103rd ballot, settling on dark horse John W.
  • FDR was nominated on the fourth ballot in 1932.
  • The GOP had its greatest split since 1912 when
    Eisenhower took on Taft in 1952.

From Smoke-filled Rooms to the Television Age
  • Since 1960, the national conventions no longer
    select but ratify. The power of the party bosses
    has ebbed.
  • As a result of intense media coverage, the polls
    have convinced the public who is likely to be the
    nominee long before the convention.
  • Media coverage of the "race" uses all of the
    metaphors of a derby favorites, dark horses,
    gaining ground, etc.

From Smoke-filled Rooms to the Television Age
  • Though national conventions nominate the
    presidential candidates, not many voters
    participate in selecting the delegates. In 2004,
    only about 12.7 million (8 percent) of Americans
    of voting age participated in the primaries.

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The Future of the Convention System
  • One proposal to replace the national convention
    system has been to have a national presidential
    primary. Voters could then directly select the
    party nominees for president.
  • Critics argue that the candidate who had the most
    intense support could win the nomination, but
    have a poor chance of a November victory.
  • Runoffs might be needed and the top vote-getter
    in the first primary would lose in the second.
  • National primaries would hurt the lesser-known
  • A national primary would further weaken the role
    of political parties.

The Future of the Convention System
  • Nelson W. Polsby suggested that parties should
    continue selecting presidential nominees. Parties
    are crucial for the "proper general functioning
    of the political system."
  • The convention system, which has been around
    since 1832, is unlikely to disappear.
  • The conventions still serve a purpose in that
    they choose the nominees for president and vice
    president. They also provide a forum for voters
    to see the candidates in action and unify the
    party and generate voter interest in the fall

Democracy Under Pressure
  • Political Parties and Democratic Government

Political Parties and Democratic Government
  • Americans have been ambivalent toward politics
    and politicians.
  • Eisenhower in 1952 was an outsider, Ronald Reagan
    ran for California governor as an outsider in
  • To many voters, politicians are merely
    unprincipled opportunists.
  • Watergate did not seem to surprise voters, who
    felt that "they all do it.
  • Political parties are vital to functioning of the
    American democracy, yet do not enjoy prestige.

Political Parties and Democratic Government
  • The truth about politics and practitioners lies
    somewhere between Aristotle's view that "the good
    of man" is the object of politics and Simon
    Cameron's view that politicians are "bought" and
    "will stay bought."
  • Americans might have a more generous view of the
    craft of politics if it were more widely
    understood that parties and democracy are
    mutually dependent because of the functions they
  • The rest of the world has great concern about how
    the parties select a presidential nominee who may
    hold the nuclear button.

Political Parties and Democratic Government
  • The brokerage role of mediating among groups and
    resolving social conflict is of tremendous import
    to a democracy under pressure.
  • Both parties try to develop broad-based appeals.
  • The party not in power offers alternatives in
    Congress and rallies its followers to bring about
  • The parties keep conflict manageable.

A Choice, Not an Echo?
  • There is a common lament that the two parties are
    the same but in reality there are significant
  • Gerald Pomper studied the differences in the
    party platforms to determine the differences in
    views, finding
  • Platforms are reasonably meaningful indications
    of the party's intentions and identify the party
    with certain policies.
  • He also found that the parties kept more than
    two-thirds of their promises over a ten-year
    period (1968-1978).

A Choice, Not an Echo?
  • American parties are not sharply ideological, but
    then neither are the voters.
  • Max Lerner noted of party difference "While it
    is more than the difference between Tweedledum
    and Tweedledee, it is not such as to split
    society itself or invite civil conflict. . . ."

Are Parties Accountable to the Voters?
  • American elections elect people, not parties, but
    hold both accountable.
  • American parties are criticized for not being
    "responsible" to the voters because
  • They cannot be held to their platform promises.
  • They lack the internal discipline to whip their
    programs through Congress.
  • Gerald Pomper has noted that political parties do
    carry out many platform pledges.

Are Parties Accountable to the Voters?
  • In parliamentary systems like Great Britain's,
    political parties are more closely linked to the
    electorate than in the United States because the
    parties run both legislative and executive
    branches when elected and have a chance to carry
    out their campaign programs.

Are Parties Accountable to the Voters?
  • Political scientists have debated the value of
    responsible parties
  • On the down side, party cohesion strong enough to
    pass programs in Congress could only be achieved
    by reducing the role and independence of
    individual legislators.
  • Advocates of responsible parties suggest several
    ways to get them, short of adopting the British
  • Attempt to achieve greater discipline within the
    parties by rewarding cooperative members with
    campaign funds.
  • Elect committee chairs in Congress based on party
    loyalty, not just seniority.

Are Parties Accountable to the Voters?
  • Party responsibility already exists to a degree,
    as presidents who seek election have learned.
  • In the 1964 election, LBJ presented himself as a
    "dove" v. Goldwater's "hawk" on Vietnam, but
    could not run in 1968 because he felt the voters
    would punish him for switching sides.

Democracy Under Pressure
  • A Look Ahead

A Look Ahead
  • It is hard to predict the future of politics, as
    was found by those who predicted that no member
    of the GOP could be elected in 1968 after the
    debacle of 1964, and those who foresaw the doom
    of the GOP after Watergate.
  • Clinton defied early odds to win the presidency
    in 1992.
  • The GOP, which lost the White House to Clinton,
    won the Congress two years later.

A Look Ahead
  • One fact is clear Political parties must respond
    to pressures for or against change or pay the
    price with defeat.
  • In addition, minor parties will arise in times of
    stress. More non-party candidates, like Ross
    Perot, will seek the White House.
  • Candidates will continue to rely on television,
    which can reach millions of voters.

A Look Ahead
  • Political commercials, professional campaign
    managers, political polls, and skilled media
    techniques now play a major role in campaigns.
  • Political parties play a vital role in
    translating the hopes of Americans into action.