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Governance divided between the parties, especially when one holds the presidency and the other controls one or both houses of Congress.
Election of 1860
Critical Election - Republican Party goes from a minority party to a majority party; Democrats become the party of the South (Solid South)
Election of 1896
Critical Election - Republicans remain American's majority party until the Great Depression due to William Jennings Bryan coalition of labor unions and small farmers vs. McKinley's industrialists, monopolists, and small business owners
Election of 1932
Critical Election - Ended Republican dominance and created the New Deal coalition (urban dwellers, labor unions, Catholics, Jews, southerners, African Americans. Party realignment for urban dwellers and African Americans
Functions of a Political Party
Recruiting and nominating candidates for public office, running political campaigns, articulating their positions on issues, critiquing the policies of the party in power, and linking citizens to government
Impact of Divided Government
increased partisanship, difficult to compromise, slowed the confirmation and legislative processes (gridlock), increased political frustration and trust in government
Importance of Minor Parties
Force major parties to adopt their ideas or can play a spoiler role in presidential elections (Nader in 2000 Election)
Providing information to voters about candidates running for office, mobilizing voters to elect party candidates, and raising funds to support party candidates
Effect: significant representation changes to the party→ future conventions more democratic by including more minority representation.
National Nominating Committee
Forums where presidential candidates are given the official nod by their parties.
Obstacles to Minor Parties
winner-take-all format of Electoral College, single-member districts & exclusion from presidential debates
Time period characterized by national dominance by one political party. Examples: Era of Good Feeling, the Republican era following the Civil War, the Democratic era following the election of Franklin Roosevelt, and the Republican era following the election of Richard Nixon.
Group of citizens who organize to win elections, hold public offices, operate the government and determine public policy
party organization that exists on the local level and uses patronage as the means to keep the party members in line. Example: Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall
Voted on by the delegates attending the National Convention; represents the ideological point of view of a political party.
Caused by a critical election where the majority party is displaced by the minority party ushering in a new party era
Different ways an average citizen gets involved in the political process ranging from conventional means (voting) of influencing government to more radical unconventional tools (riots & protests).
Traditional Democratic middle-class voters turning to Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.
Evangelical conglomeration of ultraconservative political activists, many of whom support the Republican Party.
Democratic party leaders and elected party officials who automatically are selected as delegates to the National Convention.
Third political parties
Political parties that can be described as ideological, single-issue oriented, economically motivated, and personality driven. Examples: Free Soil Party, Know Nothings, Populist, and Bull Moose Parties.
Why America has a Two-Party System
Strong commitment to political values, winner takes all - single member districts, expensive elections, legislative dominance of the two parties, tradition
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