Political Parties in the United States Chapter 9, 10, 11 Notes
Components of a political party • A political party is a group of citizens who share similar views and concerns on public issues (platform), and how the government should respond to these issues. • Joining a political party is a responsibility, and it is voluntary. • Being a member of a political party gives a citizen a vehicle to voice their concerns.
Reasons For Political Parties • It is the most reasonable and organized way for a large group of people to express common goals. • It provides an avenue to select candidates that will represent the party. • It helps make the party’s candidate more accountable to the members of the party.
Beginnings of Political Parties In the US • The first 2 parties in the US were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.
Federalists • The Federalists wanted to establish a strong federal/national government. • They favored national laws over state laws. • They were led by Alexander Hamilton. • The wealthy aristocracy were the main supporters of this party.
The Anti-federalists • The Anti-Federalists wanted a national government with limited power. • They favored more state rights. • They wanted individual freedoms included in the Constitution. • This party was led by Thomas Jefferson, and was supported by the more common people. • They would eventually form the democratic-republicans which would form the democratic Party.
Opposition to Political Parties • President George Washington, in his farewell address, warned against the development of parties. • He believed that different parties could divide the new nation, and cause disunity for our young nation. • He was right if you think of the Republicans and the Democrats of today.
The Birth of Our Parties Today • The Democratic Party- Their symbol is the donkey. • They formed in the 1820’s by a group called the “common people”. • The Democrats believed that the government was being controlled by and for the wealthy. • They believed that the little man did not have a voice in government.
Democrats Continued… • The Democrats also pushed for the removal of voting restrictions. • This would lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the 19th Amendment. • This movement was started by Andrew Jackson, and he was elected the first Democratic President in 1828. • This period in American history became known as the Jacksonian Democracy due to its appeal to the common man
The Republican Party • Sometimes is called the GOP, or the Grand Old Party. • It was formed in the 1850’s by people who wanted to abolish slavery. • The movement was led by Abraham Lincoln who became the first Republican president in 1860. • Republicans tend to be conservative and more traditional.
The Parties of 2007 • The Democrats believe that more federal government control is needed to solve the problems of the people. • They tend to be more liberal, or open minded about major issues. • This is their platform: • They are pro-choice on abortion. • pro-gun control • For national healthcare. • They support same gender marriages. • They are against prayer in schools. • They are against tax cuts. • Democrats want equality for everyone in the US..
Parties of 2007 Continued… • The Republicans feel that the national governments role should be limited. • They tend to be conservative and favor traditional values. • This is their platform: • They feel that the state and local government can better decide what is better for its people than can the federal government. • They are pro-life on abortion. • They are against gun control. • They support the death penalty. • They are against same gender marriages. • They are for prayer in schools. • They tend to favor the rich over the poor (Opinions vary).
Advantages of the Two Party System • The parties are almost equal in strength. • There have been 15 Democratic Presidents and 18 Republican Presidents in our history. • Voters are presented with clear choices. • This system has been successful for over 150 years. • Political extremes are usually avoided. Most candidates have to be more moderate in order to win an election.
Third Parties • Single Issue Parties • Ideological Parties • Independent Parties • These parties try to get a message across to voters.
Third parties usually develop because of discontent with the major parties. • No third party candidate has ever won a presidential election. • They do influence who will win an election. • In recent years the most successful third party candidate has been Jesse Ventura, who was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. • In 2000 the third party candidate, Ralph Nader of the Green party took votes from the Democrat Al Gore. • This allowed the Republican George W. Bush to win the election. The final numbers were Bush 50%, Gore 50% and Nader 1%.
Organizing Political Parties • National Committee- Each party has a national committee, led by a national chairperson. • Their purpose is to give candidates exposure. They also assist in fundraising to pay for campaigns. • National Convention- Each party holds a national convention in August, before the November election. Each state sends delegates to the convention.
Selecting a Candidate • At the national convention the party selects a candidate that will represent them. • The candidate supports and pushes the party platform if they are elected president. • The presidential nominee, then selects a running mate for vice-president. • The two running mates will represent the party in the November election.
Plank v. Platform • The party has a platform. The platform is the parties stance on major issues. This platform is what attracts people to the party. • A plankis an individual issue like abortion, or gun control. All of the planks form the parties platform.
Campaign Financing • It comes from 3 sources. • 65% of financing comes from public funds. The Campaign Act of 1976 allows each taxpayer to contribute 3 dollars of their tax refund to the President’s re-election fund. • 10% comes from private donations. Each citizen is limited to 2000 dollars a candidate. • 25% come from Political Action Committees. PAC’s may contribute up to 5000 dollars per candidate
Influencing Government • Interest Groups- Are groups of people that share the same ideas on particular issues. Examples are PETA, MADD, NRA, NAACP, and the AARP. • These groups try to influence Congress to pass legislation that favors of their opinion. • PAC’S- Political Action Committees, are the politically active part of an interest group. • Lobbyists- PAC’S hire people to go to Washington to try to influence law makers. These people are called lobbyists, and the lobby Congress. • Usually the group with the most money has the greatest influence.
Soft vs. Hard Money • Soft Money- is money donated to a political party. There is no limit on the amount of soft money that can be donated. This is a loop hole for big lobby groups to donate tons of money to influence the government. • Hard Money- is money that is donated to an individual candidate. Individuals are limited to 1000 dollars a year, while PAC’s can donate 5000 per candidate.
You must be 18 years old. • You must be a US citizen. • You must be registered in the state that you are voting in. In North Carolina, you must be registered at least 30 days before the election. • States control their own voting laws.
Voting Stipulations • According to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, no special conditions or requirements can be placed on voting (tests or the ability to read or write). • There are exclusions, people in prisons, people in mental hospitals, and people who are not citizens may not vote in elections.
Primary Elections • These are elections held several months prior to the general election in November. • The purpose is to select a candidate to represent the party in November. • Republicans face off against Republicans, and Democrats fight against each other. • They are like the playoffs in football or the brackets during march madness. • The winner of each primary face each other in the Super bowl.
Open vs. Closed Primaries • A Closed Primary- Voters can only vote for candidates in their own party. • Independent voters may not vote in a closed primary. • In NC we have a closed primary. • Our primary is held on the first Tuesday in May. • This keeps one party from influencing the other party. • An Open Primary- Voters can vote for a candidate from any party. • Independents are allowed to vote in an open primary.
General Elections • The general election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. • This is the election that determines who will sit in office.
Voting Terms • Locally Cabarrus County is divided into voting districts or precincts. When a voter registers, they are assigned to the nearest precinct to their house. Most polling places are located in schools. • Ballot- this is the voting form which lists the candidates and their party. This is a secret ballot. It is known as the Australian ballot. • In Cabarrus County we use a punch ballot.
Straight vs. Split Tickets • You can vote with either a split ticket, or a straight ticket. • With a split ticket you vote for the candidate regardless of their party. • You vote based on the quality of the candidate • On a straight ticket you vote for a party not a candidate. Usually either Republican or Democrat. • You vote a straight ticket if you only care about the party not the individual candidate.
Selecting the President • The president is elected indirectly. • We vote for electors who go and elect the President. • This is called the Electoral College. • It is a winner takes all system. • When you vote, your vote is called a popular vote. • Whichever candidate wins the majority of the popular votes, wins all of the electoral votes for that state. • Electoral votes vary for each state.
Electoral College Continued… • The number of electoral votes per state is determined by that states representation in Congress (Representatives+ Senators). • The larger the state population, the more votes that state gets. • North Carolina has 15 electoral votes. • California has the most with 54 electoral votes. • Winning Total- There is a total of 538 electoral votes. • A candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes to win the election. • If a candidate does not receive 270 or more electoral votes, then the House of Representatives selects the President.
Special Types of Elections • Recall election- this is done when constituents are upset with an incumbent. They can vote to recall that person (Arnold). • Run-off election-this is when there are 3 or more candidates and none of them reach a majority. The top two vote getters face off against each other to see who will win. This is usually done in primary elections.
Majority vs. Plurality • Majority- is when a candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote. • Plurality- is when a candidate wins an election but does not receive a majority of the votes.
Referendum vs. Initiative • Referendum- is when a government legislative branch places an proposition on a ballot for the voters to approve or reject. • Initiative- is when the people start a petition in order to get a proposition placed on a ballot for approval or rejection.
Public Opinion • Polls- Are surveys intended to find out the public’s ideas on key issues. • Direction- indicates whether an issue is positive or negative. • Intensity- indicates how strong the issue is with people. • Stability- indicates how long the issue has been around in the media. • Remember, sometimes questions can be asked a certain way to be biased one way or another.
Propaganda • Propaganda is used to try to influence American voters to vote for a candidate. • It is also used by interest groups to try to sway public opinion in their favor.
Propaganda Techniques • Just Plain Folks- using regular people in ads to influence viewers. • Glittering Generalities- using general statements to mislead voters. • Bandwagon- tell people that we are all doing it so should you (peer pressure). • Endorsements- getting celebrities to endorse your issue. • Symbols- using symbols such as flags to influence public opinion. • Name Calling- Don’t vote for him he is terrible. • Stacked Cards- giving misleading statistics to influence public opinion.