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Political Parties


Political Parties A political party is a group of persons who seek to control government through the winning of elections and holding public office. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Political Parties

Political Parties
  • A political party is a group of persons who seek
    to control government through the winning of
    elections and holding public office.
    Test Question
  • Today the Democrats and the Republicans (G.O.P)
    are the two major parties

Political Party Functions
  • Nominating Candidates parties select candidates
    and present them to voters as options
  • Informing and Activating Supporters parties
    must inform the public and encourage their
    participation in government
  • The Bonding Agent Function ensure the good
    performance of its candidates and officeholders
  • Governing most government business is based on
  • Most decisions made by political officeholders is
    based around how they think their party would
    want them to vote.
  • Acting as Watchdog parties act as watchdogs
    over the conduct of the publics business.
  • The party out of power, will often criticize the
    role of the party in power (the party that holds
    the most governmental positions

The Two-Party System
  • A political system dominated by two major
  • Reasons for U.S. two-party system
  • History once Washington left office, government
    officials divided themselves between those that
    supported Hamilton (Federalists) and those that
    supported Jefferson (Anti-Federalists

Reasons for Two-Party System (cont.)
  1. The Force of Tradition we have two major
    parties because that is the way it has always
    been done. Humans do not like change.
  2. The Electoral System The winner-take-all system
    of elections in the U.S. encourages only two
    parties to guarantee one side gets a majority of
    the votes.
  3. The American Ideological Consensus over time,
    the American people have shared many of the same
    ideals, principles, and patterns of belief.

Single-Member Districts (SMDs)
  • A single member district is an electoral district
    from which one person is chosen by the voters for
    each elected office.
  • SMDs discourage minor parties because only one
    winner can come out of each contest.
  • You can either vote for the party in power, or
    for the party with the best chance of replacing
    the party in power. Some believe a vote for
    another minor party is a wasted vote.

  • African-Americans
  • Catholics
  • Jews
  • Union Members

  • White males
  • Protestants
  • Business owners

Party Membership Patterns
  • Factors that can influence party membership

Two-Party System in American History
  • The first two real political parties were the
    Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.
  • Federalists founded by Alexander Hamilton,
    party of the rich and well-born.
  • Democratic-Republicans founded by Thomas
    Jefferson, more sympathetic to the common man

Four Major Party Eras
  1. The Era of the Democrats, 1800-1860 Democratic
    domination until the Civil War, mostly due to
    disorganization by the opposition.
  2. The Era of the Republicans, 1860-1932 The
    election of Abe Lincoln marked the beginning of
    70 years of GOP dominance.
  3. The Return of the Democrats, 1932-1968 the
    Great Depression helped the Democrats regain
  4. Divided Government, 1968-present neither party
    can consistently hold the presidency, Congress is
    often controlled by the opposing party.

Minor Parties
  • The Libertarian Party
  • Stresses individual liberty, opposes taxes,
    foreign involvements, government intrusion into
    private lives
  • Prohibition Party
  • Advocates a nationwide ban on alcohol
  • Constitution Party
  • Advocates free pursuance of happiness, not the
    regulation of it.
  • Communist Party USA
  • Terms itself, the Party of the American Working
    Class. Looks forward to the restructuring of
    the American political and economic systems.
  • Green Party
  • Promotes environmental concerns with the slogan
    We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we
    borrow it for our children.

The Minor Parties
  • Types of Third Parties
  • Ideological parties based on a particular set
    of beliefs (Communist party)
  • Single-issue parties concentrate only on one
    public-policy matter (Prohibition Party, Green
  • Economic protest parties found in poor economic
    times, dissatisfied with current conditions and
    demanding better times(Occupy Wall Street)
  • Splinter parties parties that have split away
    from one of the major parties (Bull Moose party,

Roles of Third Parties
  1. Spoiler role even if they dont win the
    election, they can pull enough votes away from
    one side to sway the election.
  2. Critic unlike the major parties, minor parties
    are ready, willing, and able to take clear-cut
    stands on controversial issues. They draw
    attention to issues, major-parties are trying to
  3. Innovator Some of the most important issues
    have been brought up by minor parties, but stolen
    by major parties when the proposal gain a real
    share of public support.

Party Organization
  • Party organization tend to be decentralized,
    meaning they have no chain of command from the
    top to the bottom, because
  • The role of the presidency the president is
    obviously his partys leader, the opposition
    party has no clear leader.
  • The impact of federalism there are more than
    half a million elected offices in the US, it is
    hard for one group to make all the decisions
  • The role of the nominating process the
    nominating process is often a divisive one.

National Party Machinery
  • 4 elements of both major parties
  • The National Convention partys national voice.
    Nominates candidates for president, adopts party
    rules, and writes the party platform
  • The National Committee between conventions, the
    partys affairs are handled by the national
  • National Chairperson leader of the national
    committee, directs the work of the partys
    headquarters, and its small staff in Washington
  • Congressional Campaign Committee each party has
    one for each house in Congress. Works to reelect
    incumbents and ensure members of their party take
    open seats.

State and Local Machinery
  • Although national party organization are largely
    the product of custom and of the rules adopted by
    the national conventions, state and local levels
    are set by State law.
  • At the State level, party machinery is built
    around a State central committee, headed by a
    State chairperson
  • Local party structures vary widely from place to
    place. Local units include congressional and
    legislative districts, counties, cities and
    towns, wards and precincts.

3 Components of the Party
  • The party organization leaders and activists
    who control the party machinery
  • The party in the electorate the partys
    loyalists who vote for the party in elections
  • The party in government partys officeholders
    at all levels of government

Why Have Parties Weakened?
  • Most voters in the United States do not identify
    themselves with one party or the other.
  • There has been a large increase in split-ticket
    voting, or voting for candidates of different
  • Parties are less organized and have greater
    internal conflict. This conflict results from
    primary elections
  • Changes in technology have made the media more
    important than the party in the spread of
  • The growth in number and impact of single-issue
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