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POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections

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1 POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections




5 It’s hard to tell who is more to blame—the political zealots who have turned partisanship into nothing more than a muckraking war, or all the people who are so terrified of thinking for themselves that they allow a political party to do it for them. The simple fact of the matter is that all of us are influenced by different things. Our political opinions come from different places and for different reasons. But partisanship leaves us all blind. Partisanship tells us that if you're a Democrat, you believe A, B and C. If you're a Republican, you believe D, E and F. Period. Does that sound like a free thinking society to you? —Chris Bellamy Undergraduate at the University of Utah

6 To me, America is the epitome of freedom, and we haven’t been showing it.  We haven’t been led by men who have that as their top priority.  Worst of all, most of the men who have been leading recently have wanted nothing but their own goals.  It’s why I hate political parties.  It fosters hostility, distrust, and selfishness.  This is not American. So, for all of you, this is what I’m fighting for.  I’m fighting for America.  I’m not a terrorist, a mob war starter, or a crazy person.  I’m a vigilante and a patriot. I just happen to fight for America, not a party. —Conner Wesselman, 16

7 I hate political parties
I hate political parties. It seems like all they are is a way to turn us against each other… I don't think its healthy to bunch everyone in one group or the other… I mean look at this election, I don't remember ever seeing so much mudslinging and constant attacking between the two parties. And the sad thing is that you can't even rely on a candidate to practice what he preaches. —Kyle Thompson, 21 Gamer and graphics designer

8 Political parties ruin politics and what they stand for all together
Political parties ruin politics and what they stand for all together.  The concept is more about getting into office than anything else.  Rather than represent the people and do work for them, the party politicians seem to always fight for a way to get into or stay in office…  Political parties have put democracy at stake and with each election the situation only worsens. —David Cano

9 I hate political parties. Seriously, I do.
People ask me why I registered as an Independent, and I usually answer “It was the lesser of many evils.” My reasoning behind this is that I hate Republicans and I hate Democrats. Each party is evil in their own way. I’m not a party voter - I don’t blindly vote for my party line out of loyalty. That is a bull---- way to vote and a bull---- way to think. I vote on the issues as they pertain to me and everyone around me. —Tasha Costa Blogger at

10 That is why I hate political parties
That is why I hate political parties. They don't exist for the good of the nation. They exist to get people elected. —Jason Sigger A defense policy analyst in the DC area

11 Why I Hate Political Parties
Parties are divisive and polarizing Parties and narrow and rigid in their ideology Parties are self-interested and self-serving in their pursuit of elections Parties are obstructionists. Their petty squabbling hinders the government’s ability to get things done

12 Did the Founding Fathers Agree?
“Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party...”

13 “Tripartite” view of American political parties
Party-in-government Party-as-organization Party-in-the- electorate

PARTIES-IN-GOVERNMENT Provide a short-hand cue for voting Recruit, train, and fund political candidates Provide stable rules and procedures for handling conflict in Congress Mobilize voter turnout Run party primaries and caucuses to winnow down the list of potential candidates Craft party platforms that help guide policy decisions Provide common ground between different branches and levels of government

15 Two Opposing Views Parties are dangerous and divisive
Parties are absolutely indispensible

16 Imagine a world without parties…

17 The Responsible Party Model
Notice that each of these questions presents a TESTABLE HYPOTHESIS. Does the “responsible party model” work in practice? Parties have a clear platform of issue positions. All candidates run for election on the basis of their party’s platform. Voters cast ballots based on the issues presented in the platform. Once elected, the majority party enacts their platform Voters hold the majority party accountable for the outcome.

18 But… Do parties have clear issue positions?
Do voters accurately understand party differences? Do campaigns focus on parties and issues, or candidates? Do candidates run as party members, or as individuals? Do voters hold elected officials accountable for outcomes?

19 A World Without Parties
Special interest groups and PACs gain Wealthy and celebrity candidates gain Incumbents gain The news media, and television news in particular, gains Political consultants gain

20 Parties in Decline? Technological change
Proliferation of interest groups The importance of money New electoral techniques Presidential primaries


22 The American Two-Party System
The institutional explanation Duverger’s Law The Electoral College Ballot access restrictions Campaign finance laws Downs and the median voter model Voter socialization Historical and cultural explanations

23 Advantages of the Two-Party System
Winners usually get a majority of the vote, which creates the sense of legitimacy necessary for governing. Tendency to incorporate but not empower radical ideas. Drives outcomes towards the median voter (compromise, coalition-building) Offers clarity of choice Enhances electoral accountability

24 Disadvantages of the Two-Party System
Slow to accept change. Lower voter turnout not all views are represented. Electoral rules allow for a “spoiler” effect. Virtual two-way elections encourage negative campaigns. Forces voters to engage in tactical voting, not voting based on conscience.

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