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What are Political Parties?
a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with a label (party ID) “Three-headed political giant” Party-in-the-electorate (voters who identify with a party; no dues, no cards, just a claim) Party-as-organization (national office, staff, rules, budgets) Party-in-government (elected officials who claim membership in the party)
The Meaning of Party Tasks of the Parties Linkage Institution: The channels through which people’s concerns become political issues on the government’s policy agenda. Parties Pick Candidates Parties Run Campaigns Inform the public – help voters decide who to vote for in elections Organizing government – coordinate government policy-making
Goal of a Political Party? WIN ELECTIONS
Party Structure National Convention – meets every 4 years, nominates President National Committee – manages party affairs on daily basis Congressional campaign committee – supports party’s candidates National chair – manages daily work State parties 50 of them, no two alike; some weak (CA), some strong (PA)
Partisan Control of State Governments: 2005 (Figure 8. 3)
State and Local Parties The “Machine” recruits members via tangible incentives ($, jobs, political favors, patronage); Cook County/Chicago, Ill (Dem), Nassau Co. , NY (Rep) high degree of leadership control extensive abuses (ex. , Boss Tweed) until reform (voter registration, civil service exams, etc. ) self-serving and public-regarding “new” machines: blend of old (regarding campaign finance), and modern ideological traits (regarding issues)
Rational Choice Theory: Rational-choice theory: Assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, weighing the costs & benefits. Parties/politicians have pragmatic goals that matter more to the party than ideology (such as winning); and so, they’ll pursue goals with mass public appeal Given the restrictions of American political culture, it’s hard for two main parties to differentiate themselves; but that’s what they have to do, to build voter loyalty
What do the two political parties in America believe in?
Figure 8. 1
Ticket-splitting: Voting with one party for one office and with another party for other offices. Ticket-splitting has become the norm in American voting behavior. Straight ticket voting is the opposite where you vote exclusively for one party
Why does the US only have 2 political parties?
The 2 -Party System Rare among nations (one estimate: only 15 nations have it) Evenly balanced nationally, not locally Why has it endured so long? voter opinion (“two broad coalitions work, even though it creates bitter dissent”) state laws make it difficult for 3 rd parties to get on ballot BUT MAINLY, it’s the electoral system: “winner-take-all” and plurality system limit the # of parties In political science, Duverger's law is a principle that asserts that plurality rule elections structured within singlemember districts cause a two-party system.
What’s a Plurality? in elections for Pres, Congress, most state elections, the winner is he/she who gets MOST votes, not MAJORITY (50% +1) Ø no proportionality (prop. systems give political seats in proportion to the votes cast for each party) Ø Er-ah…ich bin ein fan of plurality! I feel your plurality…
The Alternative: Proportional Representation Parliamentary systems sometimes unstable Why? harder for 1 party to get a majority ○ causes coalition governments, which usually give disproportional influence to minor parties who join government (ex. , Israel) ○ Vote of no confidence dissolves the government Israel’s Parliament (Knesset) Trying to form a coalition govt over what appear to be doughnuts
FUN WITH PROPORTIONAL PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEMS AND COALITION BUILDING! Orthodox Jewish settlers, your new coalition partners! Hamas! From Terrorist Organization… …to Palestinian government! Anyone care to join them? Hello?
American v. European parties serve as “gatekeepers”, to which voters are very loyal (fading recently) European parties are stronger than American parties: Requires a financial investment to join Bonjour! U. S. federal system decentralizes power to states/local gov’t-- that’s where power is federal law regulates & weakens parties further candidates chosen by primary, not by party leader Buon giorno! Awfully pleased to meet you, old chap!
3 rd Parties/Minor Parties (not taken seriously b/c they can’t raise money b/c they’re not taken seriously b/c they can’t raise money, ad infinitum) Ideological Parties: comprehensive, radical view-most enduring (Socialist, Communist, Libertarian) One-Issue Parties: address one concern, avoid others (Free Soil, Know-Nothing, Prohibition) Economic Protest Parties- regional, protest economic conditions (Greenback, Populist) Splinter/Factional Parties- form split in major party, usually over party’s presidential nominee (Bull Moose, American Independent Party) Individual parties (Ross Perot 1992 & 1996, John Anderson 1980)
3 rd Parties impact on American Politics Rarely win elections Third parties bring new groups and ideas into politics Two-party system discourages extreme views Often cause a major party to lose an election (spoiler effect), need
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WHAT POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE DOMINATED OVER THE COURSE OF AMERICAN HISTORY?
Party Eras in American History Founders did not anticipate permanent political parties to develop, thought it was not virtuous Factions: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists over the ratification of the Constitution 1796 -1816: The First Party System First parties were the Federalists and Hamilton vs. the Jefferson & Democratic Republicans Bank issue, arguments over the scope of federal power 1828 -1856: Jackson and the Democrats Versus the Whigs Modern party founded by Jackson Whigs formed mainly in opposition to Democrats
1860 -1876 & 1896 -1928: The Two Republican Eras Republicans rose as the antislavery party 1896 election revolved around the gold standard and business interests 1932 -1964: The New Deal Coalition Forged by the Democrats - relied upon urban working class, ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, the poor, Southerners
1968 -Present: The Era of Divided Party Government Party dealignment - disengagement of people from parties Party neutrality - people are indifferent towards the two parties
V. O. Key, Jr. “A Theory of Critical Elections” “the depth and intensity of electoral involvement are high” “more or less profound readjustments occur in the relations of power within the community” “new and durable electoral groupings are formed” TWO KINDS OF REALIGNMENT: major party is crushed so badly, it disappears and new party emerges (1800, 1860) parties continue, but voters shift from one to another (1896, 1932)
Understanding Political Parties Is the Party Over? Political parties are no longer the chief source of information for voters State and national party organizations are getting stronger Majority of people still identify with a party, but still split their tickets Parties will continue to be around
A Very Short History of Political Parties in America First Party System, 17961824 Second Party System, 18281856 The Republican Era, 1860 -1928 The New Deal Coalition, 19321964 Divided government, 1968 -now • Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans • Federalists died after War of 1812; Republicans give in to factionalism after election of 1824 • Jacksonian Democrats v. Whigs • Democrats organized around Jackson; Whigs made up of everyone who didn’t like Jackson (northern industrialists/southern planters) • Civil War cripples Southern Democrats; Republicans run the nation for 60 years • Republican handling of Great Depression dooms them in election of 1932 • FDR builds new Democratic coalition—unions, southerners, liberals, poor, African. Americans • Erosion of “Solid [Democratic] South, trends towards sharing of power b/w two major parties seems permanent
I think that would have happened is that both men would have probably beaten the ever-loving crap out of each other. Pistols first, with neither man having enough bullets to kill the other, then sticks, until they broke. It would devolve into a throw-down, drag-out, knuckle-busting melee, claiming anyone who attempted to break it up or any structure in the vicinity. It would be like a presidential Katamari Ball of whup-ass that would have continued from the morning and into the night, then into the next day. Finally, at the break of dawn, both men at the physical brink, they would lay in the ruins of whatever unfortunate city played host to the event, utterly spent. Then get up and laugh about it and try to find a coffee house to compare The Battle of New Orleans to The Battle of San-Juan Hill.
How about a civil debate? Now you are doing a crazy talk.
For another alternative…let’s go to France! runoff elections: 1 st election: candidates who get absolute majority are elected; later, candidates who get at least 1/8 th but less than ½ go into runoff; those who get absolute majority are also elected) Effect: every party must be as broadly based as possible Since even the smallest party can win something, everyone has incentive to organize “Winner-take-all” in U. S. (1992, Clinton in Missouri; 45% of popular vote, gets all the electoral vote)