• What is the role of political parties?
• Why does U.S. have a two party
• What do democrats believe?
• What do republicans believe?
• What is role of minor parties?
History and Functions
Brief History of Political Parties
• Founders disliked Factions – Federalist #10
• Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
• Anti-Federalists become the “Jeffersonian-
Republicans” or the “Democratic-
Republicans” after Jefferson resigns from
Washington’s cabinet in order to organize
• By 1816, the Federalist Party is non-existent.
Hamilton v. Jefferson
Brief History of Political Parties
• Era of Good Feeling – No opposition to the
• After the election of Jackson (1828) the
“Democratic-Republicans” become the
• The National Republicans (Later known as
the Whigs) arose during Jackson
administration - opposed slavery – lasted
until the 1850s.
• Former Whigs and Democrats who opposed
slavery formed the Republican Party in 1854.
Four Major Eras of U.S. Political
• The Era of Democrats, 1800-1860
– Only major opponent was Whigs, led by Henry Clay & Daniel
• The Era of Republicans, 1860-1932
– Rise of the party of Lincoln, Democrats relegated to just the
• The Return of the Democrats, 1932-1968
– Great Depression shifted Americans opinions of what the
role of government should be…end of laissez-faire
• Era of Divided Government, 1968-present
– Mostly Republicans in the White House with Democrats
What do political parties do?
• Select, endorse, and support candidates for
• Produce political programs and scrutinize
the other party
• Disseminate information by informing
– Can lead to partisanship…what is that?
• Acting as Watchdog
– Party out of power looks over party in power
Why a two-party system?
• Rooted in history – America began as a
two party system.
– Even though Washington warned against it
• Obedience to the tradition
• Election rules – single-member districts
and winner-take-all elections. (Compare
with proportional representation)
• American Ideological Consensus
– Politically…we are not all that different
• Ideological Parties—those based on a particular set of
– Socialist, Communist, Libertarian Parties
– Long-lived but usually gain few votes
• Single-Issue Parties—focuses on 1 public policy matter
– Free Soil, Know Nothings, Right to Life Parties
• Economic Protest Parties—usually arise out of period of
– Populist and Greenback Parties
• Splinter Parties—those that split from a major party
– Progressive Party, Dixiecrat Party, American Independent,
Green Party, Reform Party
Role of Minor Parties
• “Spoiler Role”—pulling votes from
major parties to prove their issue is
– 1912 election is prime example
• Critic & innovator of major parties
– Bringing new issues to the table
• Libertarian Party—stresses individual liberty, opposes taxes
• Communist Party—wants to restructure the political and
• Green Party—grassroots activists, environmentalists, social
• Socialists Labor Party—seeks the peaceful abolition of
• Natural Law Party—hopes to bring the light of science into the
• Constitution Party—free pursuance of happiness, not
regulation of it
• America First Party—promotes Christian beliefs, opposes
immigration, and free trade
• Prohibition National Committee—advocates national
prohibition of sales, production, and distribution of alcohol
• Why does America have a two-party
• What are the role of minor parties?
• How did the Democrats evolve?
• How did the Republicans evolve?
If you could start a 3rd party,
what would it be?
Mountain Music Party
Create a 3rd Party!
• Make a lists of your political beliefs on one side of a
sheet of paper. This is your party platform.
– What are views on social issues like: abortion, gay
marriage, health care, education, religion, drugs,
environment, and/or gun control?
– What are your views on economic issues like: Welfare &
poverty, the recession (causes & solutions), debt, social
– What are your views on international issues like: Wars in
Iraq & Afghanistan, terrorism, immigration, trade, foreign
• Now create a name, symbol, & slogan for your party
on the other side of your paper.
• Finally, write on the platform side what kind of a 3rd
party you created.