I. The Role of Political Parties

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1 Political Parties

2 I. The Role of Political Parties A. What is a Political Party? 1. A political party is an organization that tries to elect its members to office in order to promote its political goals. 2. The fundamental goal of a political party is to win elections and control the direction of government.

3 I. The Role of Political Parties B. Party Ideology 1. Liberals (left) Democratic Party a. Generally support government action to promote equality in political, social, and economic policies. 2. Conservatives (right) Republican Party a. Generally support limited government, lower taxes, and traditional social values. 3. Moderates hold middle ground between both parties. a. Supporters may also be classified as independents.

4 I. The Role of Political Parties C. Parties Three Main Roles 1. Political parties control the nomination process for naming candidates to run for political office. a. Each major political party generally nominates one candidate to represent that party in each federal, state, and local election. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama competed against each other for the Democratic Nomination for the 2008 Presidential Election.

5 How is a bouquet toss similar to a party nomination battle?

6 I. The Role of Political Parties C. Parties Three Main Roles (continued) 2. Political parties aid the voting population by: a. educating voters and aligning them on major political issues. b. providing voters with a sense of political orientation. c. helping citizens register to vote and participate in politics. d. being watchdogs and monitoring the behavior of officeholders. Mitt Romney emerged victorious among the field of candidates to earn the Republican Nomination for the 2012 Election.

7 I. The Role of Political Parties C. Parties Three Main Roles (continued) 3. Political parties help to run the government and provide unity among government officials that share common ideologies. Left: President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Right: Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

8 II. The American Two Party System A. American Political Parties 1. The United States has a two party system; which is exceptionally rare among other democracies throughout the world. 2. Some countries have a single party system (ie: communist countries) and others have a multi party system (with 6 8 legitimate parties).

9 II. The American Two Party System A. American Political Parties (continued) 3. The Federalists and Democratic Republicans emerged as America s first two political parties Alexander Hamilton Federalist Believed in a powerful central government, a strong manufacturing base, and large cities Believed that the nation s strength was in its agricultural base and citizens living in rural areas Thomas Jefferson Democratic Republican

10 II. The American Two Party System A. American Political Parties (continued) 6. Although Republicans and Democrats dominate American politics, third parties often emerge. a. A third party is any political party other than the two major ones. b. America s winner take all election system makes it incredibly difficult for third parties to survive for long periods of time. Former WWF wrestler, Jesse The Body Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998 as a member of the Reform Party.

11 Just a few Third Parties in the United States

12 2012 Presidential Election Results (including Third Parties) Source:

13 II. The American Two Party System A. American Political Parties (continued) 7. Independent candidates are not affiliated with any political party. a. Most independents are former members of a political party. b. Sometimes, candidates adopt the label of independent after losing their party s nomination or being expelled by their party.

14

15 III. Party Organization A. National Parties 1. Each party is headed by a national committee. a. The Democratic National Committee is known as the DNC. b. The Republican National Committee is known as the RNC. 2. Each national party is also headed by a national chairperson. 3. National parties focus on getting their members elected to Congress and the presidency.

16 III. Party Organization B. State Parties 1. Like the national parties, each state party is also made up of a state committee and a party chairperson. 2. Party leadership works to promote the party s candidates in federal, state, and local elections (especially presidential elections). Website: Democratic Party of Virginia Website: Republican Party of Virginia

17 III. Party Organization C. Local Parties 1. These parties mimic the national and state parties; each city/county party has its own committee and chairperson. 2. At the local level, these cities/counties are divided into precincts. a. Precincts are small political units which are used for voting. Website: Democratic Party of Suffolk Website: Republican Party of Suffolk

18 Map of Suffolk s Precincts (27 total)

19 IV. Political Parties and the Public A. Benefits of Political Parties 1. Parties help to provide voters with a brand name to make decisions; especially for those who are unfamiliar with the political process. 2. Parties reach out to voters and unite those who share similar beliefs. Democrats tend to be.. Good Females Minorities People living in urban areas Supporters of labor unions Members of the working class Republicans tend to be.. White males Religious conservatives People living in rural areas Corporate business owners Members of the upper class

20 IV. Political Parties and the Public Good B. Criticisms of Political Parties 1. Party officials may become more loyal to their parties than to the offices which they were elected. 2. Party officials may become more concerned with personal success (ie: gaining profit or seeking re election) than serving the public good. 3. Parties often gridlock and refuse to compromise with one another.

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