Chapter 22: Political
Parties on Our Democracy
Social Science
Political Parties
 A political party is an organization of citizens who wish to influence and
control government by getting their members elected to office
 Political parties nominate, or name, candidates to run for public office
 Some public offices, especially at the local level, are nonpartisan, meaning
that the candidates do no declare themselves to be members of political
party
 Each party has a platform, a statement of the party’s officials stand on
major public issues, that are made up of planks, position statements on
each specific issue in a party’s platform
 Planks turn into government programs based on the party’s ideals
 Parties provide leadership to citizens and to seats in government
How Parties help Citizens
 Parties use persuasive tactics to make sure the
public knows when a party in power is not
doing its job
 Parties help provide a way for citizens to be
heard
 Parties also provide citizens with information
about news and programs that the party is
organizing
 Arrange meetings and canvass, or go door-to-
door handing out information and asking
people which candidates they support
 Parties also provide ways in which citizens can
get involved for their cause
The Two Party System
 Political parties started during Washington’s
presidency
 Sparked from disputes between Alexander
Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, they created the
Federalist and Democratic-Republican party
 Our two party system developed in 1854, with the
Republican Party developing from the Whig Party
and the Democratic Party developing from the
Democratic-Republican Party
 Even though political elections have been
dominated by two parties, a third party may arise
to support a cause or to back a candidate
 Can be difficult to form and run on a ballot, but if
successful, can change the course of an election
by taking votes away from other parties or by
presenting new ideas
Characteristics of Political Parties
 The Democratic Party supports taking
responsibility for social programs, tax
increases, and labor unions
 The Republican Party supports reducing
the power of the federal government
and that the state and local government
should take responsibility for social
programs
 Despite differences, political parties are
similar because they generally have the
same values and need to attract wide
support from the public
Organization of Political Parties
 Political parties are organized at the local level in
the same way through precincts, or voting
districts
 Each precinct has fewer than 1,000 voters, and
each party has a chairperson or captain that
organizes volunteers to try and get as many
members as possible
 Precincts elect city and county committee leaders
 Political parties are organized at the state level
through party committees, who organized state
conventions and nominate candidates for office
 Each party holds a national convention every four
years, where they nominate a candidate for
President and Vice-President
Changes in Party Strength
 Political parties have made their strengths in a combination
of three elements:
 Patronage-a system in which party leaders perform favors for
loyal supporters of the party
 Parties in Campaigns-nominees in campaigns can either depend
in the party for support and funds or can create their own
 Voter Loyalty-voters can either vote on a straight ticket, or a
ballot cast for all the candidates of one party, or a split ticket, or
voting for candidates of more than one party on the same ballot
 One reason for declining loyalty is that some Americans choose
their party membership and preferred candidates for different
reasons
 Some voters are independent voters, or voters who do not support
a particular party, so the key to gain their attention is through
promotion
Choosing Candidates
 The simplest way to become a candidate is through self-nomination, or
declaring that you are running for office
 Can declare themselves a candidate and pay a filing fee, become a write-
in candidate, or asks voters to write their name on the ballot, or can file
a nomination petition
 Other ways of becoming a candidate is through nomination at a
convention or through a caucus, or a meeting of party leaders to discuss
issues or to choose candidates
 Most candidates for state or federal offices are chosen through a direct
primary, or an election in which members of a political party choose
candidates to run for office in the name of the party
 Use either a closed primary, or a primary in which a voter must be
registered as a party member and may vote only in that party’s primary,
or an open primary, or a primary in which voters do not need to declare
a party before voting, but they may vote in only one party’s primary
Choosing Presidential Candidates
 In presidential primaries, candidate raise money,
mainly from individuals
 Each individual can only give $2,000 to each candidate
per election
 Candidates can raise up to $31 million for their
campaign
 Delegates are chosen in either a presidential
preference primary election or a statewide caucus or
convention
 In January and February of a presidential election year,
the primary is held in New Hampshire and the caucus is
held in Iowa
 In a presidential year, each party holds a national
convention, where they discuss the candidates, vote
on which candidate will run for President, and
approve the party platform which the candidate will
run on
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Chapter 22: Political Parties on Our Democracy