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Political Parties in America


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Title: Political Parties in America

Political Parties in America
What is a Political Party?
  • A political party is a group of political
    activists who organize to win elections, to
    operate the government, and to determine public
  • A faction is a group in a political party acting
    together in pursuit of some special interest or

AssignmentPolitical Parties
  • Using the alternative textbooks, list and explain
    the functions of political parties
  • Using the alternative textbooks as well as your
    ability to think critically, create a T-chart
    identifying the advantages and disadvantages of
    political parties

Functions ofPolitical Parties
  • Watchdog Function Party out of power scrutinizes
    and criticizes the actions of government
    officials They force officials to be more
    responsive to public
  • Informer-Stimulator Function Parties take stand
    on issues and criticize their opponents They use
    the media to perform their educational function
  • Nominating Function Parties recruit and choose
    candidates They provide nominees with a solid
    support base
  • Government Function Parties appoint state and
    national officials on a partisan basis They
    encourage cooperation between the branches
  • Seal of Approval Function Parties try to
    nominate people that are qualified and of good
    character They work to ensure the elected
    officials perform their duties well

Purpose ofPolitical Parties
  • To serve as a link between the people and
  • To allow the public to have a say in who runs the
  • To allow the public to have a say in public
  • To recruit, nominate and elect officials

Purpose ofPolitical Parties
  • To recruit, nominate and elect officials
  • To allow the public to have a say in who runs the
  • To allow the public to have a say in public
  • To serve as a link between the people and

Why do we have atwo-party system?
  • The Electoral System single member districts
    preserve the two-party system state election
    laws discourage third parties
  • The American Ideological Consensus the US is a
    pluralistic society but most agree on fundamental
    issues major parties tend to be moderate

Why do we have atwo-party system?
  • Historical Bias the Framers were opposed to
    political parties however, ratification of the
    Constitution led to the first political parties
  • Force of Tradition most Americans support the
    two-party system because it has always existed

Components ofPolitical Parties
  • Party in the Electorate the members of the
    general public who identify with a political
    party or who express a preference for one party
    over the other
  • Party in Government all of the elected and
    appointed officials who identify with a political
  • Party Organization the formal structure and
    leadership of a political party including
    election committees, local, state, and national
    executives and paid professional staff

Did you know?
  • The party in power in the House gets to
  • Choose the Speaker of the House
  • Make any new rules for the House
  • Have a majority of the seats on committees
  • Choose the chairperson of the committees
  • Hires majority of congressional staff

Many polls are conducted based on party
Many polls are conducted based on party
Survey Methods
  • Results are based on telephone interviews with
    1,625 national adults, aged 18 and older,
    conducted June 15-19, 2008. For results based on
    the total sample of national adults, one can say
    with 95 confidence that the maximum margin of
    sampling error is 3 percentage points.
  • Interviews are conducted with respondents on
    land-line telephones (for respondents with a
    land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for
    respondents who are cell-phone only).
  • In addition to sampling error, question wording
    and practical difficulties in conducting surveys
    can introduce error or bias into the findings of
    public opinion polls.

History ofPolitical Parties
  • 1800-1860 Era of the Democrats
  • A coalition of farmers, planters, debtors and
    pioneers backed the Democrats who dominated the
    government Democrats were opposed by the
    Federalists, Whigs and finally the Republicans
  • 1860-1932 Era of Republicans
  • Republicans received support from Northern and
    Western farmers, financial and business interests
    and African Americans. During this time the
    Democrats controlled the solid south.

History ofPolitical Parties
  • 1932-1968 Return of the Democrats
  • During the Depression, FDR built a new coalition
    with support from Southerners, small farmers,
    organized labor, minorities, and big-city
    political organizations The New Deal shifted the
    publics attitude about government
  • 1968 The Start of a New Era
  • Since 1968, Republicans have dominated the White
    House while Democrats have controlled Congress
    but the situation has reversed in recent
    elections. The era of DIVIDED GOVERNMENT is
    unprecedented in out history

What if everyone had to join a political party?
What would be the advantages? What would be the
Minority Parties in the US
Minority Parties in the US
  • Role of Third Parties
  • They introduce useful innovations in American
  • A strong candidate can play the role of spoiler
    in close elections
  • They play an important role as critics/reformers
  • When their ideas gain popular support, the are
    often adopted by one or both of the major parties

Minority Parties in the US
  • Examples of Third Party Contributions
  • Womens Right to Vote
  • Child Labor Laws
  • Immigration Restrictions
  • Reduction of Working Hours
  • Income Tax
  • Social Security
  • Tough on Crime

Special Interest Groups
Interest Groups private organizations that try
to persuade public officials to respond to the
shared attitudes of their members. Public
Policy all of the goals that a government sets
for itself as well as the course of action it
follows to obtain those goals.
Advantages of Special Interest Groups Disadvantages of Special Interest Groups
They help stimulate interest in public affairs They are based on shared attitudes not geography They provide information to the government They provide information to their members They allow people to get politically involved Participation in interest groups is both practical and democratic Membership is constitution-ally protected (Bill of Rights) They may not have the best interest of the nation at heart They may have influence that is far out of proportion to their size It can be difficult to figure out which people some groups represent Some of groups do not repre-sent the views of the people who they claim to represent Some groups use illegal or unethical tactics They spend huge amounts of money
Interest GroupsCompare and Contrast
Political Parties Similarities Special Interest Groups
Nominate candidates for public office Mostly interested in winning elections Mostly interested in controlling government (interested in the who i.e. the candidates) Concerned about the whole range of public affairs (i.e. whatever concerns the voters) Are accountable to the general public (voters) Both consist of people who unite for a political purpose Both work to influence public policy (law) Both use various tactics to appeal to the people Both allow the public to have a say in public policy Both serve in the Informer-Stimulator role Do not nominate candidates for public office but they do try to affect elections Mostly concerned with controlling or influencing the policies of govern-ment (interested in the what i.e. the issues) Typically concentrate on issues that directly affect their members Not accountable to the general public (private)
Content from Article Bipartisanship
  • The Republican Party
  • More Conservative
  • The Democratic Party
  • More liberal
  • The two parties disagree on issues such as taxes,
    terrorism, immigration, abortion, global warming,
  • The political landscape has grown more polarized
    since the 1990s

Arguments For andAgainst Bipartisanship
  • For Bipartisanship
  • Without it, Congress is all but crippled
  • Cooperation and compromise are needed for the
    good of the nation
  • Most of America is moderate (and feel
    disconnected by bipartisan politics)
  • It would attract more interest in government
  • Reverse the trend toward ugly and mean
  • Blame media for the extreme polarization of the
  • It has lead to good legislation
  • Against Bipartisanship
  • It will not cure the problems that ail America
  • It is a natural and healthy of democracy
  • Claims bipartisanship is a buzzword (slogan)
  • Leads to watered-down legislation
  • Change required parties to stand firm (rock the
  • Bipartisanship does not lead to good legislation
  • To remove partisan politics removes choice from
  • Its tradition (230 years)

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The NominatingProcess
  • Primaries Are open to all registered voters.
  • Participants may vote for any registered
    candidate or choose to write a candidate in
  • Participants do not actually vote for their
    candidate but for delegates to represent them at
    the National Convention
  • Voting is by secret ballot
  • Can be open or closed

I know how to reach out to independents and Ive
got Republican support And thats what we are
going to need to win, said Obama in February
The Nominating Process
  • Caucuses Open to all registered voters of the
  • Voters divide themselves by candidates
  • Voters give speeches and try to persuade others
    to support their candidate
  • At the end, the number of delegates a candidate
    is determined by overall support

The Nominating Process
  • Delegates are selected at primaries and caucuses
    to attend the National Convention for their
    respective party.
  • Delegates can be pledged or unpledged
  • Democrats use proportional distribution of
  • Republicans typically use a winner take all
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