American Government and Politics Today Chapter 8 Political Parties
What is a Political Party? • Definition: a group of political activists who organize to win elections, to operate the government, and to determine public policy. • Parties versus interest groups
Functions of Political Parties • Recruit candidates to run for elective offices at all levels of government • Mobilize citizens to vote and participate in elections • Bear the responsibility of operating government at all levels • Act as a “Watchdog” Providing organized opposition to the party in power is an essential role for a party that does not control one or another branch of the government. • Bonding agent – ensures good character
Three Faces of a Party (cont.) • State party organization • Local (grass roots) organization • 3-The Party in Government • Divided Government • The Limits of Party Unity • Party Polarization
The Three Faces of a Party 1-Electorate-The people who identify with the party or who regularly vote for the candidates of the party in general elections 2-Party organization • National • Convention delegates • National Committee • National Chairperson
TYPES OF PARTY SYSTEMS • ONE PARTY • TWO PARTY • MULTI-PARTY
Why the Two-party system? • Historical (America began as a 2 party system) • Federalist, and • Anti-federalist • Tradition • Ideological homogeneous society (American share basic beliefs and principles; more than 2 strongly opposing sides are rare) • Structure of the electoral system • 270 to win
The Two Major Parties Today • The parties’ core constituents • Economic beliefs • Republican and Democratic • Liberal v. Conservative
Why Has the Two Party System Endured? • Often, on major issues confronting the country there have been two clear sides. This duality helped to initiate a two-party system and has maintained this system through the present. • Political socialization and practical considerations • The Winner-Take-All Electoral System • State and Federal Laws Favoring the Two Parties
Why do people join parties? • Political socialization
The Role of Minor Parties in U.S. Politics • The Impact of Minor Parties • Influencing the Major Parties • Nadar • Affecting the Outcome of an Election • “Spoiler Effect”
Mechanisms of Political Change • Realignment: a process in which a substantial group of voters switches party allegiance, producing a long-term change in the political landscape. • The Myth of Dominance • The Myth of Predictability • Is Realignment Still Possible? • Dealignment: a major drop-off in support for the parties. • Independent Voters • Not-So-Independent Voters
Shift in party • Party realignment • Party dealignment
Questions for Critical Thinking • Do democratic governments need political parties? If a democratic government has political parties, will the structure always be a two-party system? What factors impact how m • any political parties will exist? • Is party identification a major factor for voters in presidential elections?
Questions for Critical Thinking • Why is it difficult for independent candidates or minor party candidates to get elected to Congress? • What inferences can be made about the voting population through the closely divided elections of 2000 and 2004?