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American Political Parties

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1 American Political Parties

2 What are Political Parties?
A political party is a group of voters, activists, candidates, and office holders who identify with a party label. Parties recruit and run candidates for public office under the party label. Parties try to organize and coordinate the activities of government officials under the party name. Cartoon by Mike Keefe, Denver Post Not all parties do all these things but this is how we see the major American parties acting.

3 The Role of Political Parties in a Democracy
Many political scientists believe that parties are essential to democracy. The political party is seen by some as the main instrument of popular sovereignty and majority rule. Parties provide a way for the people to keep elected officials responsive and responsible through competitive elections. We don’t always know a lot about the candidates especially those for some of the more obscure offices. Even for the major political offices, voters don’t have a good sense of where the candidates stand on many political issues. But we believe we know that Republicans and Democrats differ and if we know the party affiliation of the candidate that’s often a “good enough” hint as to whether I should vote for or against the person running for office. During different historical times the candidate’s party has been more or less important depending on how far apart the parties are of the key issues of the day and what offices were being contested. Presumably party doesn’t make one a good coroner or a good dogcatcher. It is often said there is no Republican or Democratic way to pave roads. But it can make a big difference. When I was in college, one of the parties controlled the local county government and if you wanted a summer job working on the road crew you better be registered with the party in power or you weren’t getting a job.

4 Parties and Majority Rule
Parties’ mobilizing activities contribute to democracy by educating people about politics. Elections create an incentive for parties to include as many voters as possible under their “umbrella”, with winning support from a majority being the goal of each party. Parties try to broaden their appeal by running candidates from many ethnic, racial, and religious groups. Without parties/teams, there are too many ideas out there to grapple with. Party provides an organizing structure for competition and for voters to understand that competition. Imagine the NFL or MLB if we had pickup teams that changed every week. It would be hard to root for one.

5 The Two-Party System Most nations have either one-party systems or multiparty systems. Most Western democracies have multiparty systems. But two parties have dominated the political scene in the United States since 1836.

6 Why Only 2 American Parties?
Winner-take-all electoral system: Legislative seats are awarded only to first place finishers in each “district”. Institutional rules: Congress and State legislatures provide no power base for minor parties. Rules – The majority party sets the rules and forms committees. Everyone else is “the opposition” Why Constitutional and Institutional Rules Matter. In Proportional Representation (PR) Governmental Systems: Legislative seats awarded based on votes received by the party - more votes, more seats. So long as your party gets “enough” votes (where “enough” means a “significant fraction”) you get some seats. Typically PR systems produce three or more viable parties. As a result, PR can lead to a need for a “coalition” government… Coalition Government in multi-party systems: Two or more parties join to run a “majority” government

7 The Evolution of American Party Democracy
Hamilton and Jefferson, as heads of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist groups respectively, are often considered 'fathers' of the modern party system. By 1800, this country had a party system with two major parties that has remained relatively stable ever since. With early elections not being determined by “popular vote” (the franchise being restricted to propertied white males), the competition between parties for voters doesn’t really begin until the 1830’s. That we have always had a 2 party system doesn’t mean they were always the same 2 parties. Whigs (with an “h”) were the major party before the Civil War.

8 Democrats and Republicans
From the presidential elections of 1860 to the present, the same two major parties have contested elections in the United States: Democrats Republicans.

9 Republicans 1854 Anti-slave activists met in Ripon, WI
1854 “Republicans” first met in Jackson., MI. The name emphasizes a connection to the Democratic-Republican Party. 1856 John Fremont was first presidential candidate of a national Republican Party. 1860 Lincoln is the first Republican elected President as Republicans replace Whig Party as one of the 2 major national parties. aka the “GOP”. Today we think of GOP as “Grand Old Party. Of course, this is a strange moniker as the Democratic Party’s roots go back further. Some believe the original (1875) meaning of GOP was “gallant old party” in reference to their Civil War successes. GOP has also been used to stand for “get out and up” (1920’s) and the “Go Party” (1964). Q: Why did the Republicans link themselves to the Jeffersonians when they emphasize their link to Washington and the Federalists?

10 The Elephant (11/7/1884) Harper’s Weekly, November 7, 1874
In this cartoon, artist Thomas Nast reacts to a series of editorials in the New York Herald criticizing what Herald owner/editor James Gordon Bennett Jr. considered to be President Ulysses S. Grant’s bid for an unprecedented third term. There was no constitutional limit on the number of presidential terms until ratification of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, but the tradition of serving no more than two terms, set by President George Washington, carried a strong stigma against anyone who attempted to violate it. The featured November 7 cartoon is one of Thomas Nast’s most important because it marks the first notable appearance of the Republican Elephant, which the cartoonist would develop over the next few years into the universally recognized symbol for the Republican Party. An elephant had been associated twice before with the Republican Party, once in Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 campaign sheet, The Rail-Splitter, and once in Harper’s Weekly to depict the Liberal Republicans of However, in neither case did the caricature have a lasting impact on other political cartoonists or the public as a symbol for the Republican Party. Nast’s first use of an animal symbol for the Republican Party came in Like the featured cartoon, he employed an Aesop’s allusion to warn Republicans, depicted as a bloodied lion and bear, that their continued intra-party fighting might allow the Democrat Party (as a fox) to capture the presidency the next year. During the rest of the 1870s, Nast associated various animals with the Republican Party — bull, eagle, fish, fox, horse, lamb, rooster, and sheep (beleaguered Southern Republicans). Beginning with “The Third-Term Panic” of November 7, 1874, Nast used the elephant seven times over the following 18 months to represent the “Republican Vote.”

11 Left: Harper’s Weekly 1876. (Thomas Nast)
This cartoon, which appeared only a couple of weeks before the 1876 presidential election, shows a powerful, methodical Republican Elephant crushing and strangling the two-headed Democratic Tiger of Tilden (r) and Hendricks (l). Uncle Sam looks down approvingly, even gleefully, from the driver's seat atop the beast. Behind him, the passenger box is filled with delighted public schoolchildren, cheering and waving the American flag. On the ground, political boss John Morrissey reveals with his empty pockets that he has no more money to buy votes for the Democrats. Right: Harper’s Weekly - November 20, 1880, p. 737 This cover-cartoon by Thomas Nast (published November 10) celebrates the Republican victory in the presidential election. The Republican Elephant stomps on the "Rebel" cause of the Democratic party with its front legs, as it kicks up its back legs, knocking over Democratic party chairman William Barnum and Tammany Hall boss John Kelly (dressed as an Indian chief). The cartoon's message that the election spelled the triumph of Republican nationalism over Democratic states' rights is illuminated in the rays of light emanating from beyond the mountains. Sent plummeting over the cliff by the bucking pachyderm are various emblems of the Democratic party: the severed body of the Democratic Tiger; the vitriolic address of Senator Wade Hampton of South Carolina; the pistols of the urban "shoulder-hitter"; the rifle of the Confederate veteran; the whisky bottle of Southern "Bourbons"; vice-presidential nominee William English, with his mortgages and foreclosures; along with the inflation Rag Baby of Greenback candidate James Weaver.

12 Democrats 1792 Thomas Jefferson organized opposition to Federalists
1798 Officially named the Democratic-Republican Party way split among D-R 1832 Reunification of Democrats under Andrew Jackson presidency. “Jacksonian Democrats” 1844 Officially re-named the Democratic Party 1848 Democratic National Committee established. So to some extent the roots of both parties may be with those opposed to the Federalist Party but I wouldn’t make too much about it. So if the Republicans are “Elephants”, what symbol represents Democrats?

13 The Tiger Many animals served as symbols for the Democratic party. The tiger was common in the post Civil War era. (The fox, lion and the wolf were also used during this period. Each cartoonist used his own symbol.) HarpWeek: August 14, 1880, p. 521 Instead of inspecting his army troops, Democratic presidential nominee General Winfield Hancock peers into the gaping maw of the emaciated Democratic Tiger, symbol of his political troops. After years of being shut out of the White House, Democrats are hungering for a victory so that they may enjoy the spoils of office: political patronage.

14 The Donkey Appears (1/19/1870)
On January 19, 1870, a political cartoon by Thomas Nast, appearing in Harper's Weekly titled "A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion," for the first time symbolized the Democratic Party as a donkey. Since then, the donkey has been widely used as a symbol of the Party, though unlike the Republican elephant, the donkey has never been officially adopted as the Party's logo. In the early 20th century, the traditional symbol of the Democratic Party in Midwestern states such as Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio was the rooster, as opposed to the Republican eagle. This symbol still appears on Kentucky and Indiana ballots. For the majority of the 20th Century, Missouri Democrats used the Statue of Liberty as their ballot emblem. This meant that when Libertarian candidates got on the Missouri ballot in 1976, they could not use the Statue of Liberty, their national symbol, as the ballot emblem. Missouri Libertarians instead used the Liberty Bell until 1995, when the Mule became Missouri's state animal (Missourians are said to be stubborn; it is the "'Show me' State"). From 1995 until 2004 there was some confusion on the behalf of voters, as the Democratic ticket was marked with the Statue of Liberty, and it seemed that the Libertarians were using a donkey. Source (Wikipedia)

15 By 1880 the Donkey had returned to common use as a symbol for the party. First used in 1837 in conjunction with Andrew Jackson, Thomas Nast first used the “donkey” in 1870. Unlike the elephant, the donkey has never been officially adopted by the Democratic Party as its official symbol. HarpWeek: July 28, 1880, p. 43 To cartoonist Joseph Keppler of Puck magazine, the key difference in the presidential race is the burden that the Democratic party imposes on its nominee, General Winfield Hancock. The strong Hancock bravely shoulders the Democratic Donkey, which is blinded by stupidity, earmarked for "soft-money" schemes, saddled with sympathy to the former Confederate cause, and pulled down by the desire for political "spoils" (patronage) of Tammany Hall boss John Kelly, appearing as an Irish leprechaun. Meanwhile, his Republican presidential rival, James Garfield, has the advantage of a gallant white steed, the Republican party, which will carry him swiftly to the White House.

16 What the party symbols mean.
To A Republican Elephant: dignified, strong, intelligent Donkey: stubborn, silly, ridiculous To A Democrat Elephant: bungling, stupid, pompous Donkey: humble, smart, courageous, lovable Adlai Stevenson (Democratic Presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956): “The elephant has a thick skin, a head full of ivory, and as everyone who has seen a circus parade knows, proceeds best by grasping the tail of its predecessor.” The Republicans, of course, refer to the donkey as a “jackass”.

17 History of Party Competition
Republican Dominance “Competitive” Republican Republican “Dominance” Democratic Dominance “Competitive” Democrat Neither party dominant Start of Republican domination? 2006 – Looking toward a competitive 2008? By “dominance” I mean “unified government”. For example, during the period , the Republicans dominated the Congress while the Democrats tried to escape the label of “southerner” which effectively meant “traitor”. Republicans won elections by waving the “bloody shirt”, i.e., reminding the (northern) voters that the south and, by implication, the Democrats were the cause of the Civil War and so many American deaths. The Democrats couldn’t win a national election during this period. 1970 – 2000: Republicans have tended to win the Presidency and the Democrats have tended to win the Congress. Post -9/11 Another “bloody shirt” era? (“Do you support terrorists?”)

18 Realignments and Critical Elections
Each period begins with a “critical election”, a landslide by one party. 1860, 1896, 1932, ??? Each critical election leads to permanent “realignment” of voter preferences Cycle of dominance - about 40 years 1860 to 1896 1896 to 1932 1932 to 1968 What causes these shifts in control? While critical elections have been landslide victories, not all landslides are critical elections. Eisenhower won big majorities in his presidential election victories in 1952 and 1956 but those victories did little to aid Republicans running for the House or Senate. Lyndon Johnson won hugely in 1964 and even swept a large Democratic majority into Congress with him. But 4 years later he was a disgraced president who couldn’t even win re-nomination of his party. Permanent realignment means that a large number of partisans switched their allegiances, their party identifications. For example, in 1932 many Republicans became Democrats as did new voters and these switches stuck in future elections. We haven’t really had that landslide that typically redefines the political universe BUT we have had a slow drift of change take place – esp. in the South – where Republicans have replaced Democrats regionally and this has greatly influenced presidential elections making them very competitive.

19 Modern Politics – Wither the Realignment?
We’ve actually been waiting for the realignment to follow 1932 for about 30 years. We live in a “de-aligned” world. Party is not as important a cue to voting as it once was. What do we get in this world – a change in the way parties compete: Party Eras – “Vote the Party Label!” De-aligned Eras – “Vote the Candidate, not the Party!” What did we do in Colorado this year – we voted for Republican Bush & then for Democrat Salazar. We have a Republican Governor & elected a Democratic state legislature. Some of the reason for de-alignment is that we don’t have that critical experience like the Civil War or Great Depression that causes people who do experience them to see the parties as really different and a vote for one as really mattering. Today it’s not even our parents who had that experience so they can’t easily pass it on to us. What remains is to see if 911 affected this generation so much that the parties really will be remembered for the way they deal with terrorism. Until Iraq started going badly, it lloked like the Republicans might gain. Now it’s uncertain. Time…..Jump to 3rd Parties?

20 The Roles of American Parties
The two party system has been used to resolve political and social conflicts. Mobilizing Support and Gathering Power A Force for Stability Unity, Linkage, Accountability The Electioneering Function Party as a Voting and Issue Cue Policy Formulation and Promotion No one is powerful on their own. There is only strength in numbers.

21 3 Views of the “Political Party”
Party as Organization Party in Government Party in the Electorate The preceding can be organized as providing three views of the Political Party

22 The Party in Government
The Congressional Party The Presidential Party The Parties and the Judiciary The Parties in State & Local Government Within each elected branch of government there are a variety of small organizations that assist the cohesion of political parties. We’ll take about these further as we explore the operation of Congress next week. Parties place little formal role in the federal judiciary but a much larger role in some state governments where judges are elected and elected under partisan labels. When we talk about the federal courts at the end of the semester you will see how party may play a role in the appointment process.

23 The Party-In-The-Electorate
The party-in-the-electorate is the mass of potential voters who identify with specific party. American voters often identify with a specific party, but rarely formally belong to it. I emphasize “identification” because this is how most of us think about parties. We are Republicans or Democrats because if someone asks us we say R or D. It’s not that we pay dues or carry a card that says we’re an R or D. The extent to which we might “formally belong” to the party is in our declaration of party affiliation when we register to vote. States with closed primaries require that you register with the party in order to vote in their primary election. Some states have open primaries in which you can vote in either party’s primary election.

24 Third Parties in America
What do these parties stand for? Check their web sites! Each offers an alternative to the policies of the two major parties. And some day each may play a bigger role than it does now. Consider the Republicans again. It only took 6 years from their first meeting in 1854 until Lincoln became the 16th President of the US. But what issue might capture the attention of enough Americans? Taxes, Abortion, Economics, Social Security, War, Environment? The major parties have positions on these issues. How do 3rd parties make a difference?

25 Historical Parties Contemporary Parties American Independence
Progressives Bull Moose Free Soil Anti-Masons Socialist Contemporary Parties Libertarian Party Green Party Reform Party American Nazi Socialist Labor Socialist Worker American Constitutional The modern American 3rd parties are not the only third parties in American political history. Many have played roles since Hamilton and Jefferson realized that we can’t all get along on every issue.

26 Third Parties: Their Impact on American Politics
Rarely win elections. Rarely last long. But, they bring new groups and people into politics who often stay involved. Two-party system discourages extreme views. Wrestler Jesse Ventura was a successful but short lived phenomenon as Gov. of Minnesota without a party base. The two party system organizes government. Unless third parties win enough seats to matter they have no power at all in Congress. The attraction of the median voter and the bell curve of opinion on most issues means that major parties gain voters by moving to the center while disenfranchising only the “fringe elements”.

27 Third Parties: Electoral Impact
Minor parties are not a threat to the two major parties today (although they may influence who wins). Only eight third parties have won any electoral votes in a presidential contest. The third parties that have had some “success” (aside from Ralph Nader in 2000) include… (2000: Ralph Nader and the Green Party) 1996 and 1992: Ross Perot’s Reform Party 1968: George Wallace’s American Independent Party 1924: Robert LaFollette’s Progressive Party 1912: Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party 1856: Millard Fillmore's American Party

28 1996 and 1992: Ross Perot’s Reform Party 18.9% 0EV
1968: George Wallace’s American Independent Party 13.5% 46EV 1924: Robert LaFollette’s Progressive Party 16.6% 13EV 1912: Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party % 88EV 1856: Millard Fillmore's American Party % 8EV

29 Impact of 3rd Parties on Issues
Prohibition (Prohibition Party) Women’s Right to Vote (Prohibition & Socialist Parties) Immigration Restrictions (Populist Party) Child Labor (Socialist Party) 40 Hour Work Week (Populist & Socialist Parties) Progressive Income Tax (Populist & Socialist Parties) Social Security (Socialist Party) Crime Control (American Independence Party) 3rd parties, while short-lived, have had policy successes! Many of their proposals were adopted by the major parties and enacted into law. Power of major parties is their ability to roll with the punches and “steal” good ideas from minor parties if they seem to be popular. Some parties have local effects and not just national policy effects. The Progressive Party from 1890s to the 1920’s affected the way in which many local governments were elected and organized, instituting non-partisan city elections, professional city manager governments, and merit system employment to replace patronage jobs. (“There is no Democratic or Republican way to pave the roads” Oh, yes there is -- Indiana road crews – “for Republicans only”)

30 The Republicans as a 3rd Party
Of course, despite modest electoral successes and policy impact via “adoption”, most third parties aspire to share or hold power. Some make it. The Republicans did not start as a major party but became the beneficiary of the 1850’s battle over slavery between Whig and Democratic Parties. Add story of 1850’s realignment (Sundquist, )

31 Q: How do our parties enhance democracy and government effectiveness?
Four Answers: The responsible party model The retrospective voting model The median voter model Overcoming the separation of powers We’ve already seen the first 3 – which are the ways in which they create pressures for competitive elections. Responsible Parties – Presentation of Real Choices Retrospective Voting – Party as Critic of Incumbent Performance Median Voter – Parties as responsive to moderates in order to capture office But parties are critical for organizing government too. Parties are the glue that holds the various branches of government together and working toward the same goals.

32 Proposals to improve the parties
Make the party elements stronger Strengthen ties between elements of the parties More power to the party centers; more hierarchical Make better ties to the public; party sentiments strengthened in the public. Elements – National, state and local organizations Ties – Linkage/coherence Hierarchy – Top-Down model of organization. Again to encourage/ensure coherence of policy goals A Role for the Public – prevent parties from become too elitist in their orientation. (Perhaps a Top- Down model should give way to a Bottom-Up model in which local committees do more to establish goals)

33 Critics: Reactions to Party Reform
Parties are already too strong; increases public discontent. Proposals to strengthen parties are by those who want big govt.

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