Do you think that political parties are good for American politics? Why or why not?

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1 The Constitution makes no mention of political parties, but the first ones formed during the early years of the republic. Today, the United States has several political parties, although two the Democrats and the Republicans dominate American politics. Section 1: Development of Political Parties Political and economic institutions evolve to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. The United States has had a twoparty system since its early days as a nation. Political Parties Do you think that political parties are good for American politics? Why or why not? Political parties play a vital role in our democratic system. Political parties form to win elections and influence government. U.S. historically a two-party system. G. Washington warned against forming political parties Political Parties (cont.) Jefferson and Hamilton s differing viewpoints: Jefferson supported limited federal gov t Hamilton called for a strong national gov t Political Parties (cont.) Jefferson - Democratic-Republican Party Hamilton - Federalist Party Federalist Party died out Dem-Rep Party split by 1828 Evolution of American Political Parties 1

2 Political Parties (cont.) Whig Party Republican Party 1854 Abraham Lincoln 1 st Republican president Do you agree that the United States should have a two-party system? A. Agree B. Disagree Third Parties Throughout American history, additional parties have arisen to influence politics. Third parties party that challenges the two main parties Populist Party -direct election of senators and 8-hour work day Progressive Party The direct primary The initiative The referendum Leading Third-Party Candidates Single-Issue parties: Promote a social, economic, or moral issue Prohibitionist Party - to ban alcohol Usually do not last long Ideological parties: Support a set of beliefs or political doctrine Socialist Labor Party, Communist Party USA, and the Libertarian Party 2

3 Support independent candidates Obstacles Two-party tradition raising money Other countries Multiparty system: 3 or more parties compete Parties often must work together Politically unstable - competing interests One-party system Party and gov t nearly the same thing Elections held not relevant Ex. China, N. Korea, Cuba How the Parties Differ differ on the way gov t should be involved Americans lives. Dem. fed. gov t more involved regulate economy, housing, income, educ. Rep. less gov t regulation Party platform made up of planks Do you think party platforms help voters decide which candidate to vote for? A. Yes B. No Section 2: Role of Political Parties Today Political and economic institutions evolve to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Political parties play a large role in the decisions made by government. 3

4 Organization of Political Parties Do you agree that it s important for state representatives to help determine a national party s presidential candidate? A. Agree B. Disagree Democrats and Republicans are organized into 50 state parties and thousands of local parties that operate independently of the national organization. The two major parties are organized at the local, state, and national levels. The national committee of each party: Reps from each state Raises funds for presidential elections Organizes national convention National party chairperson Organization of Political Parties National Convention: Held once every 4 years Delegates nominate candidates for Pres. and VP Party delegates: Chosen through presidential primary elections and caucuses Write the party platform Nominate Candidate usually decided already 4

5 Campaign committees: Members of Congress raise money to help elect party members State organizations of a party: Elect party candidates to state offices Elect party candidates for national offices Local organizations of a party consisting of city, town, and county committees Precinct: Geographic voting area Voters cast ballots at the same place Run by precinct captains Several precincts make up a ward County committees: Counties are the largest political units within a state County chairperson has political power Precinct and ward leaders building the party at the grassroots level Political machines: Strong local party organizations NYC Tammany Hall - Boss Tweed Political machines served useful purpose in the past Political machines considered harmful today At which level do you think it s most important for a political party to try and reach voters? A. National B. State C. Local D. Grassroots 5

6 Nominating Candidates (cont.) Political parties hold primaries to nominate candidates for office Direct primary: Voters chose candidates to represent each party in a general election Nominating Candidates (cont.) closed primary - only declared members of a party allowed to vote open primary Voters need not declare their party preference to vote for party s nominee Caucus: Voters meet in small groups and choose which candidate they support Nominating Candidates (cont.) Arguments for and against the closed primary For vote for other party weak candidate Against Independent voters can t vote Not truly secret (declare party) Nominating Candidates (cont.) Winning a primary: Plurality of votes Majority of votes Winner becomes party candidate in the general election Unaffiliated candidates added to ballots by petition Other Party Roles (cont.) Do you agree that closed primaries are a fair way to nominate candidates for office? A. Agree B. Disagree Political parties perform many functions that allow citizens to communicate with the gov t. 6

7 Other Party Roles (cont.) Functions of political parties: Campaign Inform citizens Carry the people s message Operate the gov t Act as a watchdog Link different levels of gov t What is the most important function of political parties? A. Acting as a watchdog B. Operating the government C. Campaigning for candidates D. Informing citizens 7

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