American Government and Politics Today Chapter 8 Political Parties What Is a Party? • What is a party? There are many ways to describe a party, according to Frank Sorauf. –Voters, a majority of whom consider themselves Democrats or Republicans. –Party leaders, outside of government, who handle the party apparatus and can use it as a power base. –Party activists, who perform the dayto-day, grass-roots work. What Is a Party? – Party leaders in government who include the president, leaders in Congress, and state and local leaders. – A major party is a broad-based coalition that seeks to gain control of government by winning elections. – Political parties are less powerful today because PACs, campaign managers, and interest groups have taken over many duties parties used to perform for candidates. Political parties in a democracy are different from those in totalitarian systems. What Is a Party? –In democracies, parties help manage the peaceful transfer of power in government. •a. In totalitarian systems, power is not relinquished without force. •b. Parties in the United States serve other functions for the political system: –i. They manage the succession of power. –ii. They offer competing candidates for office, and policy alternatives. –iii. They operate the machinery for nominations, campaigns, and elections. What Is a Party? –They help mobilize demands and support (inputs) for the system and participate in developing policy (outputs). –The party in power defends the status quo, and opposing parties describe a need for change. •Parties channel public support or opposition. •They hold officials accountable to voters. •They recruit candidates. •Parties hold officials accountable to the voters. What Is a Party? – Parties are different from interest groups. Parties run candidates for office, interest groups do not. • Interest groups are oriented toward narrow issue concerns. – Parties try to form winning coalitions by creating combinations powerful enough to govern. • Winning parties reconcile conflicting groups to get broad enough support to win elections. • Their victorious presidential candidate appoints cabinet, staff, and other department heads to run the executive branch. • He appeals to legislative branch members of his party for party loyalty to get his program through. • This linkage in the governmental process helps to organize and run government down to the state and local levels. What is a Political Party? – Definition: a group of political activists who organize to win elections, to operate the government, and to determine public policy. • Parties versus interest groups – Functions of parties • • • • Recruiting candidates to run for elective offices at all levels of government Mobilize citizens to vote and participate in elections Bear the responsibility of operating government at all levels Providing organized opposition to the party in power is an essential role for a party that does not control one or another branch of the government. Party Structure • American political parties are more loosely organized (decentralized). • Rather than a system with power flowing down, it is a series of layers of a party, with each layer concerned first about elections in its area. National Political Parties • National party organization is the trophy bestowed on the winner of the nomination and election for president. • Lose the election, and you must relinquish the party apparatus to someone else. • The national convention, which nominates the party's candidates for president and vice president, writes the platform, settles disputes, writes party rules, and elects the national committee. National Political Parties • The national chairperson, formally elected by the national committee, is in practice picked by the winning presidential nominee. • The national committee is the governing body of the party. Members are chosen from each state. • In the past, the committees were little more than the permanent offices of the party that house the national chairperson and the staff. – Recently, they have been involved between presidential elections in public relations, patronage, research, and fund-raising. National Political Parties • Presidential nominees largely ignore the national committee, preferring to build a personal organization to run the campaign. • Further decentralizing the parties is the practice of having congressional and senatorial campaign committees in Congress, chosen by the party members in Congress, and not tied to the national committee. These committees help members with their reelection efforts with money, speakers, campaign advice, and assistance. State and Local Parties • Laws governing parties vary widely from state to state. • State parties are under the control of the governors, with mayors of large cities carrying clout in many northern industrial cities. • When the other party has the governorship, the party chairperson has more personal influence; but in some states the party is run by a single party boss-either an elected government official or party officer. State and Local Parties • David Mayhew classified many states as having "traditional party organizations" that are independent and highly organized, seeking to nominate candidates to a wide range of offices. They offer rewards to loyal followers. • There are great variations in party politics from state to state. The Democrats in Alabama are very different from the ones in Michigan. • Some state parties have big city versus the rest of the state cleavages, as in Cook County (Chicago) and downstate Illinois. State and Local Parties • The possibility of riding into office on a winning presidential candidate's coattails can tie state parties to national ones. • The state committees are below the national committee on the party flow charts. • Below the state committees is the county level: county chairs, district leaders of various sorts, precinct and ward captains, and party workers. State and Local Parties • Patronage jobs for the party workers help hold the party organization together and link it with government. • Although big-city machines still exist, the political "boss" of the 19th and 20th centuries really no longer exists. State and Local Parties • The urban machines drew power from vast waves of immigrants. – The machines offered help-from food baskets to city jobs-in return for votes. – Since the 1930s, federal social programs undercut the city machines. – The establishment of the direct primary and party reforms also contributed to the destruction of boss systems like Carmine De Sapio's Tammany Hall and the last of the city bosses, Richard J. Daley of Chicago. State and Local Parties • Still, people participate at the grass-roots level for a number of reasons that aren't merely economic: –For the sheer excitement of being involved in a presidential campaign. –Being a precinct captain in some places is prestigious. –Being a party worker might help you go to the quadrennial national party convention. State and Local Parties • Two kinds of activists are the most common at various levels of the party and at the national conventions. – Activists are volunteers who are committed to a particular issue or candidate. – Activists supporting particular candidates for high office. – Only about 10 percent of the population could be called politically involved. – In 2000, only 18.3 million made campaign contributions, 10.2 million attended political events, and 6.1 million did political work. History of Political Parties – The Formative Years: Federalists and AntiFederalists – The Era of Good Feelings – National Two-Party Rule: Whigs and Democrats – The Civil War Crisis – The Post-Civil War Period •“Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” •The Triumph of the Republicans – The Progressive Interlude – The New Deal Era – An Era of Divided Government •In the years after 1968, the general pattern was often a Republican president and a Democratic Congress. •2000 & 2004 Presidential Election History of Political Parties Era of Divided Government 1896 Electon 2000 Election 2004 Election The Roots of Dualism • America has always been a two-party nation. • Tradition and history. – Dualism is as old as the nation. It is accepted, in part, because it has always been there. • The electoral system. – The system of elections favors two parties. – In a single-member-per-district Congress, the winner takes all. The Roots of Dualism – A presidential candidate with the most popular votes in a state usually gets all of the state's electors. – Minor parties lack the strong geographic base needed to win and instead disappear. – State election laws often make it difficult for minor parties to get on the ballot. • Patterns of belief. – Ideological differences in American voters are not so intense that we have as many ideological parties as exist in Western Europe. The Two Major Parties Today – The parties’ core constituents – Economic beliefs •Recent economic convergence? •Republican and Democratic Budgets – Democrats have the reputation of supporting the lesswell-off, and Republicans the prosperous. – Cultural Politics •Cultural Politics and Socioeconomic Status •The Regional Factor in Cultural Politics – The 2004 Election: Economics and National Security The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence • Fading party loyalties among voters have become evident in recent years. • Ladd and Hadley contend the drop-off has been dramatic over the last decade to the point that the public is indifferent to it. • Martin Wattenberg found a large part of the public views parties with indifference. The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence • Austin Ranney has observed that an almost "no-party" system has developed in presidential politics. – GOP candidate Ronald Reagan won 58 percent of the vote, while less than one-third of the voters identified themselves as Republicans. – Non-party candidate Ross Perot got nearly one of five votes cast in 1992. The Decline of Party Loyalty and Party Influence • Various reasons have been suggested for the decline in party ties: – A more educated electorate with less need for guidance from a party. – Increased split-ticket voting. – Increasing importance of television and news media, and the breakup of old alignments within major parties. – Professionals now provide services once provided by the parties. Functions of the party have been taken over by PACs, campaign managers, and interest groups. – Decline in urban political machines. Candidates no longer rely on parties to run campaigns. Fig. 8-4 Republican Issues and Democratic Issues The Three Faces of a Party The Three Faces of a Party (cont.) 1-Party organization • National – Convention delegates – National Committee – National Chairperson • State party organization • Local (grass roots) organization – Patronage and City Machines – Local Party Organizations Today 2-The Party in Government • Divided Government • The Limits of Party Unity • Party Polarization The Role of Minor Parties in U.S. Politics – Ideological Third Parties – Splinter Parties – The Impact of Minor Parties •Influencing the Major Parties •Affecting the Outcome of an Election The Most Successful Third Party Campaigns Since 1864 Mechanisms of Political Change •Realignment: a process in which a substantial group of voters switches party allegiance, producing a long-term change in the political landscape. •Dealignment: a major drop-off in support for the parties. – Independent Voters – Not-So-Independent Voters •Tipping Questions??
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