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Development of American Political Parties

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1 Development of American Political Parties
Ch. 9.1: Development of American Political Parties

2 The Two-Party System A political party is an association of voters with broad common interests who want to influence or control decision making in government by electing the party’s candidates to public office. Parties pick candidates who agree with their beliefs and try to persuade voters to support those candidates.

3 The Two-Party System Anyone may join a political party; you simply declare yourself a member The U.S. has had two major parties, or a two-party system since 1860. George Washington hoped that parties would not develop. He saw them as factions that would eventually tear the country apart.

4 The Two-Party System Two of Washington’s cabinet members lead the way for the party movement. Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson disagreed strongly about how the government should operate. Hamilton wanted a strong national government and strong president; Jefferson wanted less power for the national government and more power to the states. Two rival political groups would be created

5 The Two-Party System Jefferson’s group was called the Democratic-Republican Party In 1828, the party split, and the new leader Andrew Jackson aligned with the Democratic Party. Hamilton’s group, the Federalist Party, eventually faded away into obscurity.

6 The Two-Party System The Whigs would eventually rise in 1830, to fill the void left by the Federalist Party. Until the middle of the 1850’s, these would be the two major parties in the U.S. In 1854, breakaway Democrats and Whigs who opposed slavery formed the Republican Party. The Whigs lost too much support and faded away; Democrats were still strong enough to survive 1860 Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president; two parties have existed ever since.

7 Third Parties Third parties sometimes challenge the two major parties.
A third party has never won a presidential election and rarely wins other major elections. Can however influence the outcome of elections and may influence policy

8 Third Parties Farmers and laborers formed the Populists in the 1890s.
They called for the direct election of senators and an 8 hour work day; eventually led to the 17th Amendment (1913) Wanted reform in national politics; economic reform to combat deflation in agricultural prices; opposed the gold standard Did not win, but the 2 major parties adopted many of their ideas

9 Third Parties In 1912, former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt ran for president for the Progressive Party, or “Bull Moose Party” Roosevelt was an alternative for conservatives; emphasized worker’s rights, anti-trust laws, and a government funded creation of wildlife refuges for environmentalists He won enough votes away from the Republican candidate, William Howard Taft, that the Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidential election (spoiler)

10 Third Parties Some third parties arise to promote a social, economic, or moral issue. The Prohibitionist Party pushed for laws against the sale of alcohol. Single-issue parties fade when the issue loses importance or a major party adopts it.

11 Third Parties Ideological parties focus on changing society in major ways. The Socialist Labor Party and Communist Party favor government ownership. The Libertarian Party wants more individual freedom, less government interference in everyday lives; The Green Party wants to protect consumers from the power of corporations

12 Third Parties Some third parties form around well-known individuals who cannot get support from a major party. Some parties fade after their candidates’ defeat. Ex. H. Ross Perot 1992 Independent Party 1996 Reform Party

13 Disadvantages to Third Parties
Republican and Democratic candidates are automatically placed on the ballot in many states. Third party candidates must obtain a large number of signatures to even get on the ballot Usually only one candidate can win a district; most voters favor one of the major parties. Third parties have trouble raising enough money to compete with the major parties

14 Other Party Systems Political parties exist in most countries, but two party systems are rare Most democracies have multiparty systems One party rarely wins enough support to control the government, so several parties must work together; Competing interests can create a politically unstable situation Ex. Canada-3 Germany-5 Israel-20

15 Other Party Systems In a one-party system, the government and party are nearly the same thing. In the People’s Republic of China, only the Communist Party is allowed to exist. This is not a democracy There are no rival candidates in the elections; it is a pointless exercise

16 Today’s Major Parties Competing political parties give voters a choice among candidates and ideas. The major parties differ mainly in their belief about how much the government should be involved in the lives of Americans

17 Today’s Major Parties Democrats tend to believe that the federal government should be more directly involved in regulating the economy and providing for the poor Republicans tend to believe that if they help the economy grow, poor people will have a better chance of finding jobs and providing for themselves; less government regulation, let free market operate

18 Today’s Major Parties Both parties try to appeal to as many voters as possible. As a result, they tend to adopt mainstream, moderate positions and avoid the extreme positions Parties are similar because the American people generally agree about many issues

19 Today’s Major Parties The American people can learn about the positions of each party through their platform—a series of statements expressing the party’s principles, beliefs, and positions on issues. Each individual part is called a plank. The platform communicates to voters what the party plans to do if it wins.

20 Ch. 9.2: Organization of American Political Parties
The goal that unites a party’s national, state, and local organizations is to help the party win as many offices as possible. Each party has a national committee made up of representatives from all of the 50 states; headed by a national party chairperson Responsible for raising funds for presidential elections and organizes the party’s national convention

21 National Party Organization
At the national convention, party delegates from all the states write the platform and nominate candidates for president and vice president Each party chooses delegates in the primary elections

22 National Party Organization
Historically, national conventions were suspenseful. Today, primary elections generally decide the nominations before the conventions take place Each party also has a House and Senate campaign committee; responsible for electing as many members of Congress as possible.

23 State and Local Organization
Each party has 50 state organizations that work to elect their party’s candidates for national office. Local party organizations consist of towns, cities, and county committees Each city or county is divided into election districts or precincts

24 State and Local Organization
A precinct is a geographic area that contains a specific number of voters. It may be an entire small town or part of a large city All voters in a precinct use the same voting place. Precinct captain organizes other party volunteers and encourages people to vote

25 State and Local Organization
Several adjoining precincts make up a larger political unit called a ward A volunteer represents the ward at the party’s county committee

26 State and Local Organization
Counties are the largest political units in a state. A county chairperson runs the county committee and has great power if the county is large Could advise higher ups within the party on potential appointments

27 State and Local Organization
Local party people build support at the “grassroots” level. Local leaders must know how their neighbors fell about issues important to them At election time they must “deliver the vote” for party candidates at every level

28 State and Local Organization
In the past, some local party organizations became so powerful that they were called political machines In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Tammany Hall organization ruled New York City. Its leader Boss Tweed, grew rich from bribes and kickbacks. At a time when no social service agencies existed, political machines provided needy citizens with jobs, food, and other services in return for votes.

29 State and Local Organization
Tweed’s Tammany Hall controlled business, politics, and law enforcement Businesses would pay employees “bonuses” to vote for politicians that were supported by Tammany Hall Eventually political machines become unresponsive to the needs of the community because they have become so entrenched; no fear of losing power

30 State and Local Organization
Membership in a political party is not required, but it offers a way for citizens to be involved in politics The only duty is to vote Can contribute money, do volunteer work, or help with election campaigns.

31 Ch. 9.3: Role of Political Parties Today
Political parties are active year-round. They keep people informed and interested in the issues and candidates They try to see that the party’s elected officials are commended for their good job; politically criticize actions of the opposing party

32 Nominating Candidates
Parties select candidates through the nomination process. In direct primaries, voters in each state choose candidates to represent the party in a general election. Often the winner of the most primaries wins the party’s nomination

33 Nominating Candidates
Most states hold closed primaries in which only declared members may vote for the party’s nominees A few states hold open primaries in which voters need not declare a party preference to vote for the party’s nominees

34 Nominating Candidates
For offices open to only one winner, the nomination usually goes to the candidate who receives a plurality—the most votes among all those running. In a few states, the winner must have a majority—a number greater than half of the total If no candidate receives a majority, the party or state holds a runoff election between the two top vote getters

35 Nominating Candidates
An independent candidate may get on the ballot if enough voters sign a petition—a paper declaring support for the candidate

36 Other Party Roles Parties raise money for the campaign and help get the candidates’ views across to the public; do this through campaign pamphlets, speeches, advertising Make sure supporters are registered to vote and actually show up

37 Other Party Roles After an election, party leaders recommend party supporters for top government jobs to be filled by appointment. Plays an important “watchdog” role. Party out of power watches the actions of those in power constantly looking for mistakes and misuse of power. Competition between parties forces the party in power to pay attention to the will of the people.

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