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The American Political Process

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Presentation on theme: "The American Political Process"— Presentation transcript:

1 The American Political Process
Government – Libertyville HS

2 What is Politics? Formal definition: “The conduct of public affairs”
Realistically, it’s all about the pursuit and exercise of power What is political power? Influencing others’ (political) behavior Acquiring and exercising power to make rules, laws & policies that everyone is required to follow

3 Politics is not evil or “dirty” – it is the core of any government

4 Political Parties What is a political party? A group of people …
… with similar interests & beliefs … … seeking power (through elections) … …to control policymaking … … which is organized along federal lines (national + 50 states)

5 Political Parties In a democratic government, political parties represent the way people participate in the political process Many ways to participate Join a political party Volunteer to help on a political campaign Take part in demonstrations Vote in election Run for public office

6 Functions of Political Parties
Parties are the link between people & government Essential to operation of a democratic government Read and review the five functions of political parties in your textbook (pp )

7 Functions of Political Parties
(2) “Information and stimulator” function Inform people & stimulate their interest and participation in public affairs HOW??? Campaigning Taking stands on issues Criticizing opposition

8 Functions of Political Parties
(3) Bonding Agent Function Ensure good performance of its candidates & office holders Asks the questions of its candidates: High qualifications? Good character? Failure = political damage (ex – Watergate) (4) Watchdog function Party out of power keeps an eye on conduct of party in power

9 Function of Political Parties
(5) Governing function Government is run by the party in power Basis for conduct of government in America The political party is the primary agent through which the legislative, executive branches cooperate

10 Party Membership Purely voluntary No dues paid
BUT people can contribute $ No duties in exchange for membership BUT you can volunteer to work for a campaign Broad based & multi-class (economic, social) in nature

11 Party Membership: Democrats
Farmers Union workers African Americans Ethnic minorities Environmentalists Political liberals (“progressives”) Catholics, Jews Entertainment industry Big business Graduate degree holders (MA, PHD)

12 Party Membership: Republicans
Fiscal conservatives Small business Evangelical Christians Military Eastern European immigrants Slightly more males than females Married couples Higher income voters College graduates Elderly

13 American Political System
So why does America have a two party system? Historical reasons American Ideological consensus Conduct of elections

14 Historical Reasons: Republican Party Evolution
1780s: Federalists (x=1800) 1820: Whigs (x=1850) 1854: GOP formed (today)

15 Historical Reasons: Democratic Party Evolution
1780s: D-Rs 1800: “TJ-Ds” 1830s: “J-Ds” Today’s Ds

16 “American Ideological Consensus”
France: Population? Italy: Population? 65 million 58 million Left / Liberal Right / Conservative [ ] Europeans are dispersed across political spectrum

17 “American Ideological Consensus”
Left / Liberal Right / Conservative Americans are concentrated towards center of ideological spectrum [ ] Why?!?!

18 “American Ideological Consensus”
US has two oceans to E, W US has friendly neighbors to N, S Americans less polarized b/c they are safe! Nice Water Water Nice

19 Europe, by contrast… YIKES!!!

20 SMD vs. PR Single Member Districts Example
Proportional Representation Example Country B # of Districts Won Party A 40 Party B 30 Party C 20 Party D 10 Country A % of Votes Candidate 1 40% Candidate 2 30% Candidate 3 20% Candidate 4 10% Who wins? Who wins?

21 SMD v. PR Single Member District characteristics
Winner takes all No incentive to come in anything but first place No incentives for third parties No incentive to build coalition / compromise Proportional Representation characteristics No losers, only degrees of winners Greater representation of ideas and issues More extreme ideas represented in process Coalition building required

22 Third Party Types Economic Protest Ideological
Expresses their discontent with the major parties and current economy Examples? Ideological Based on comprehensive view of social, political, or economic matters No compromise of beliefs for victory

23 Types of 3rd Parties Single Issue Party Splinter Party
Motivated and focused on one overriding public policy issue Example? Splinter Party Splits off from one of the major parties Electoral “Kiss of Death” for major party – why? Splits support of 1 party between 2 candidates

24 Contributions of 3rd Parties
Political conventions 1830s – 1st one held by 3rd party Every 4 years, 1 for each party Nomination of President, VP Today, primaries, caucuses precede convention Also develop Party Platform Still relevant? Show differences between parties 1 week of being ‘on message”

25 Contributions of 3rd Parties
Address issues major parties don’t want to discuss Example: Ross Perot & NAFTA Ralph Nader and big money in politics Disappoint in Ds, Rs = support for 3rd party

26 Contributions of 3rd Parties: Spoiler
Election of 1912 TR = Bull Moose / progressive (Split Rs) Taft = R Wilson = D Lesson? Big % to 3rd party can cost a major party the election Popular vote Wilson: ,296,284 Roosevelt: 4,122,721 Taft: 3,486,242

27 Contribution of 3rd Parties: Spoiler
Election of 1992 Clinton = 43% Bush = 38% Perot = 19% Lesson: major parties have to protect their flanks! Result Clinton: 370 ECV / 44,909,806 popular vote GHW Bush: 168 ECV / 39,104,550 popular vote Perot: ECV / 19,743,821 popular vote

28 Contributions of 3rd Parties
2000 election Need 270 ECV to win Gore = 267 EC (+500k PV) GW Bush = 246 ECV FL = 25 ECV (Nader) (Gore) (Bush) w/o Nader, voters would have either stayed home or vote for Gore

29 Contributions of 3rd Parties
FL vote Bush = 2,912,790 Gore = 2,912,253 Nader = 97,488 Bush: votes Who says your vote doesn’t count? What would Nader say about criticism by Ds? Those were votes for him and against Gore / Ds Results Bush: 271 ECV / 50.4 million Gore: 266 ECV / 50.9 million Nader: ECV / 2.8 million

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