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Government – Libertyville HS The American Political Process.

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Presentation on theme: "Government – Libertyville HS The American Political Process."— Presentation transcript:

1 Government – Libertyville HS The American Political Process

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

4 Political Parties What is a political party? What is a political party? A group of people … A group of people … … with similar interests & beliefs … … with similar interests & beliefs … … seeking power (through elections) … … seeking power (through elections) … …to control policymaking … …to control policymaking … … which is organized along federal lines (national + 50 states) … 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 In a democratic government, political parties represent the way people participate in the political process Many ways to participate Many ways to participate Join a political party Join a political party Volunteer to help on a political campaign Volunteer to help on a political campaign Take part in demonstrations Take part in demonstrations Vote in election Vote in election Run for public office Run for public office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 American Political System So why does America have a two party system? So why does America have a two party system? Historical reasons Historical reasons American Ideological consensus American Ideological consensus Conduct of elections 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” Left / LiberalRight / Conservative France: Population? Italy: Population? Europeans are dispersed across political spectrum 65 million 58 million [ ][ ]

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

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

19 Europe, by contrast… YIKES!!!

20 SMD vs. PR Country A% of Votes Candidate 140% Candidate 230% Candidate 320% Candidate 410% Country B# of Districts Won Party A40 Party B30 Party C20 Party D10 Single Member Districts Example Who wins? Proportional Representation Example Who wins?

21 SMD v. PR Single Member District characteristics Single Member District characteristics Winner takes all Winner takes all No incentive to come in anything but first place No incentive to come in anything but first place No incentives for third parties No incentives for third parties No incentive to build coalition / compromise 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 Economic Protest Expresses their discontent with the major parties and current economy Expresses their discontent with the major parties and current economy Examples? Examples? Ideological Ideological Based on comprehensive view of social, political, or economic matters Based on comprehensive view of social, political, or economic matters No compromise of beliefs for victory No compromise of beliefs for victory Examples? Examples?

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

24 Contributions of 3 rd Parties Political conventions 1830s – 1 st one held by 3 rd 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 3 rd 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 3 rd party

26 Contributions of 3 rd Parties: Spoiler Election of 1912 TR = Bull Moose / progressive (Split Rs) Taft = R Wilson = D Lesson? Big % to 3 rd party can cost a major party the election Popular vote Wilson: 6,296,284 Roosevelt: 4,122,721 Taft: 3,486,242

27 Contribution of 3 rd 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: 0 ECV / 19,743,821 popular vote

28 Contributions of 3 rd 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 3 rd Parties FL vote Bush = 2,912,790 Gore = 2,912,253 Nader = 97,488 Bush: +537 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: 0 ECV / 2.8 million


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