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Political Parties in American Politics


Political Parties in American Politics. PSC 121. Professor Daniel Holliman ... American National Government and Politics. Interests Groups--'Factions' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Political Parties in American Politics

Political Parties in American Politics
  • PSC 121
  • Professor Daniel Holliman
  • The Maxwell School of Citizenship

Lecture Outline
  • I. What do Parties Do?
  • Defined
  • Why are Parties important?
  • II. Parties in History
  • Critical Election theory
  • Party systems interpretation of American History
  • III. How Parties Contribute to Democratic
  • IV.. How Parties Detract from Democratic Politics?
  • V. Progressive Reform
  • direct primary, civil service, official ballot,
    personal registration
  • VI. Party Renewal

Political Parties--Defined
  • Groups of like-minded people who band together in
    an attempt to take control of government.

Parties vs. Interests vs. Factions
  • The Founders (Federalists/Madison) identified
    the central threat to liberty as factions.
  • Differing interests are cited as the most
    durable source of faction.
  • But isnt a party just an institutionalized

Anti-Party Sentiments
  • To the founders of the young Republic,parties
    meant bigger, better organized, and fiercer
    factions, and they did not want that
  • Government by the People

The Two-Party System in America
  • Historical Origins
  • The Federalists and Jeffersonians were the first
    American parties.
  • The Jeffersonian Party would evolve into the
    modern Democratic Party in the late 1820s.
  • The modern Republican Party grew out of the
    antislavery movement in the 1850s.

Parties in American History A Party Systems
  • American political history can be viewed as a
    succession of electoral eras referred to as a
    party system.
  • Within each era, elections are similar, the key
    points of similarity and dissimilarity being the
    party alignmentthe social and economic groups
    that consistently support each party

Parties in American History A Party Systems
  • The eras themselves are separated by one or more
    critical elections.
  • critical elections are elections that marks the
    emergence of a new, lasting alignment of partisan
    support within the electorate.

Party Systems Interpretation of Electoral History
  • First (Jeffersonian) Party System1796-1824
  • 7 Democratic-Republican presidential victories
  • 1 Federalist Victory
  • Second (Jacksonian) Party System 1828-1856
  • 6 Democratic victories
  • 2 Whig victories
  • Third (Civil War and Reconstruction) Party
    System 1860-1892
  • 7 Republican victories
  • 2 Democratic victories
  • Fourth (National Republican) Party System
  • 7 Republican victories
  • 2 Democratic victories

Party Systems Interpretation of Electoral History
  • Fifth (New Deal) Party System 1932-1964
  • 7 Democratic victories
  • 2 Republican victories
  • Sixth (Divided Government) Party System 1968-??
  • 6 Republican victories
  • 3 Democratic victories

Electoral Alignments and Realignments
  • An electoral realignment occurs when a new party
    supplants the ruling party.
  • Caused by new issues or new voters

What do Parties Do?
  • Political Parties have been considered the
    central institutions of democratic governments at
    least since the enfranchisement of the working
  • Parties are strongly associated with the values
    of democracy and are accurately regarded as one
    of its working mechanisms.

Are Political Parties Important?
  • Many Americans are not sure..
  • 45 Agree that it would be better if there were
    no party labels on the ballot
  • 52 Agree that parties do more to confuse issues
    than provide a clear choice
  • 30 Agree we probably dont need political
    parties in America anymore
  • Source, 1999 Gallop Poll. Sampling error is /-

What Parties Do? They add to American democracy.
  • Organize and operate the government
  • Focus responsibility for government action
  • Develop issues and educate the public
  • Synthesize interests
  • Recruit and develop governmental talent
  • Simplify the electoral system

Most importantly,
  • Parties have at times dominated citizens
    conceptions of politics. Until the late 1960s
    Partisan identification had a good deal of
    influence on citizens behavior in the political

An important study called The American Voter
  • during the 1940s, and much of the1950s almost all
    Americans identified closely with one or another
    of the two major parties. 90 considered
    themselves either Democrats or Republicans.Very
    few Americans considered themselves independents.
  • Also discovered that partisan identification had
    a good deal of influence on citizens behavior in
    the political world.

The American Voter...
  • First, partisan identification (Party ID)
    affected whether or not people voted. People who
    strongly identified with a party were much more
    likely to go to the polls.
  • Second, partisan ties affect the direction of
    peoples vote. In fact the authors found that the
    single most important factor influencing voting
    in the United States was Party ID.

Party Identification
  • Individuals identify with one of the two major
  • Identification with a particular party is based
    on the shared views and interests of the
    individual and the party.

The American Voter...
  • First, partisan identification (Party ID)
    affected whether or not people voted. People who
    strongly identified with a party were much more
    likely to go to the polls.
  • Second, partisan ties affect the direction of
    peoples vote. In fact the authors found that the
    single most important factor influencing voting
    in the United States was Party ID.

The American Voter...
  • Third, Partisanship influenced citizens
    perceptions of issues, of candidates, and of
    events. (In terms of political psychology,
    partisanship often contains an element of
    cognitive dissonance and can often be seen as a
    perceptual screen).
  • Thus, those who identify with the Democratic
    Party would tend to see Democratic Politicians in
    a positive light.

Party Identification in the Electorate
Political Parties are critical in 3 Areas V.O.
  • Partisanship-As-Organization
  • Partisanship-In-Government
  • Partisanship-In-the-Electorate

Why have political parties?
  • The ideal Political parties serve as the main
    instrument of popular sovereignty and majority
    rule by
  • keeping elected officials responsive.
  • Including a broad range of groups
  • stimulating political interest.
  • insuring accountability.

Responsible Party Thesis
  • Each party should present policy programs to
    voters consistent with its ideology.
  • Party Programs should differ, presenting voters
    with a range of choices
  • Parties must carry out their policy commitments
    while in office.
  • Voters should hold parties accountable for
    promises not delivered on.

Distinguishing between Parties
  • Ideology
  • Party Memberships
  • Policy Differences

Group Affiliations
  • The parties represent coalitions of groups, which
  • race and ethnicity,
  • Gender,
  • Religion,
  • class
  • Ideology,
  • Region
  • Age

What do the parties stand for?
  • What is an ideology?
  • What is a platform?
  • What is the relationship between ideology and
    policy platforms?

In Terms of Political Strategy, Parties and
Politicians usually Operationalize 6 basic
  • Strategy is the plan to achieve your most
    important political goals.
  • Tactics are the things you do in the course of
    implementing your political strategy.

Six Basic Tactics used by Parties and Politicians
  • Stand on Principle
  • Divide and Conquer
  • Reform Your Own Party
  • Triangulate
  • Use a New Technology
  • Mobilize your base (Nation) in a Time of Crisis

Third Parties . . . .
  • The Libertarians
  • The Reform Party
  • The Green Party

How Parties Detract from democracy...
  • That parties can perform valuable functions is no
    guarantee that they will.
  • 2 Main Points
  • those who organize and operate parties are
    motivated primarily by the desire to achieve
    their own political ends
  • the primary motives are electoral Prospective
    public officials believe that forming a party
    will advance their chances of winning elections

How Parties Detract from a healthy democracy...
  • Parties can dictate what governments doat some
    point coordination becomes control
  • Parties can confuse responsibility
  • The temptation to kill the other partys
    initiative is especially strong when divided
    government existswhen a single party does not
    control the presidency and both houses of Congress

How Parties Detract from a healthy democracy...
  • Can suppress issues
  • Can divide society
  • May recruit hacks and celebrities
  • Can oversimplify the electoral system

Summary Point on Political Parties
  • Scholars value parties because they can make very
    useful contributions to democratic politics and
  • Moreover scholars generally do not examine
    parties in the abstract rather, they usually use
    the standard relative to having no parties

Summary Point on Political Parties
  • Parties still seem to matter in terms of their
    predictive capacity within Political
    ScienceParty ID still influences citizen
  • Parties are still critical in terms of the actual
    determination of representation issues (e.g., see
    Figure 9.3 on the Process of Electoral
    Redistricting on p. 310)

(No Transcript)
Decline of the Significance of Political Parties
  • During the Fourth Party System, the
    Progressives (middle class reformers in the
    late 19th and early 20th century) succeeded in
    implementing several reforms that had as their
    cumulative effect an erosion of party strength in
    the U.S.
  • They attacked the party machines (highly
    organized party under control of boss, based on
    patronage and control of government).

Progressive Era Reforms that Eroded Party
Strength in U.S
  • Direct Primary election
  • The Civil Service
  • The official ballot
  • Personal registration

Modern Era Changes that Have Eroded Party Strength
  • Polling, the broadcast media, direct-mail
    fundraising, professional public relations and,
    above all the use of 30 -60 second television
    spots in election campaigns.
  • All of these gave politicians a new set of
    political weapons that they could use in place of
    party organizations.

Interest Groups
  • Professor Daniel Holliman
  • PSC 121
  • American National Government and Politics

Interests Groups--Factions
  • Madison wrote liberty is to faction as air is to
    fire meaning organizations and interests will
    inevitably form in a free society.
  • Madison believed that interests should be
    permitted to regulate themselves by competing
    with one another .
  • This theory is called pluralism

Interests Groups
  • Pluralism --The theory that all interests are and
    should be free to compete for influence in the
    government. The outcome of this competition is
    compromise and moderation.

Interests Groups
  • The importance of interest groups...
  • Interests groups exist in democracies because
    they represent assemblages of like-minded people
    who agree on public policy goals and join
    together to influence politics.
  • Political action committees are designed to weld
    political influence in the outcomes of elections.
    They are the most powerful example of political
    interest groups.

Interest Group Strategies
  • Lobbying
  • Access
  • Litigation
  • Going Public
  • Partisan Politics

Problems with Pluralism
  • EE. Schattschneider, wrote in The Socialization
    of Conflict
  • Argues that the pluralism doesnt hold up to
    elite dominance of policy--all groups are not
    represented or have equal access
  • Regularizes conflict and means issues are left
    off the agenda.

Problems with Pluralism
  • Cozy relationships Look at the Enron Affair
  • Iron Triangles-- stable cooperative relationship
    that develop between a congressional committee,
    an administrative agency and one or more
    supportive interest groups
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