24 terms

Chapter 9: Political Parties

political parties
Organized groups that attempt to influence government by electing their members to government positions with the goal of determining public policy.
This word is often used in a negative sense to describe someone's behavior. If someone is criticized for being partisan it means that their party affiliation is so strong it prevents them from honestly considering other viewpoints, trying to reach a compromise, or even playing by fair rules. A partisan is someone who may be very biased (ex: talk radio personalities). Bi-partisanship refers to cooperation, compromise, and fair play between the two major political parties.
two-party system
A political system in which only two parties have a realistic opportunity to compete effectively for power within government. The United States has a two-party system that has been dominated by the Democratic Party and Republican Party since the Civil War.
party organization
The formal structure of a political party, including its leadership, members, and paid staff. Political parties in the United States are decentralized, which means that their main level of organization is at the state level. There are 50 state parties united by a national committee.
national convention
The party organization that brings all 50 state parties together to write and adopt an official party platform and nominate official candidates for president and vice president. The national convention is hosted by the national committee.
party platform
An official party document, written at the national convention, stating the party's philosophy, principles, and policy positions.
The resources available to elected officials to make partisan political appointments and grant special favors to supporters. Some of the jobs in the federal bureaucracy are filled through appointment so the president or Cabinet secretaries can reward supporters with jobs.
party machines
Do not exist anymore. Strong, disciplined, and hierarchical party organizations in the late 19th and early 20th century led by a "boss" who used the party machine to control city government through often unethical means (lots of corruption). Today, party organization is much weaker, but certain politicians still have a "boss" style that tends to get them into legal and ethical quandaries.
policy entrepreneur
An individual who identifies a problem as a political issue and introduces a policy proposal into the political agenda. (Ex: grassroots activist or party leader offers a new idea to solve a new problem).
majority party
The party that holds the majority of legislative seats in a legislative chamber.
minority party
The party that holds the minority of legislative seats in a legislative chamber.
party identification
An individual's psychological ties to a political party. Similar to party affiliation, which is also influenced by party image. Voters identify with a party whose image they are attracted to. At a very basic level some voters may identify with the Republican Party because they perceive the party's image as being about individual freedom, while other voters may identify with the Democratic Party because they perceive the party's image as being about equality or diversity.
party activists
Partisans who contribute time, energy, and money to support their party and its candidates. Party activists are often referred to as the "grassroots" or the "base" of the party. They often have the strongest, most passionate beliefs and participate in the political process more often than others. The high participation rate of party activists also contributes to party polarization.
The movement of voters away from the major political parties; a decline in party identification and affiliation. In American politics, the increasing number of Independents is an example of dealignment.
The movement of voters from one party to the other, thereby altering which party is dominant. Realignment coincides with the destruction of an existing majority-coalition and the emergence of a new majority-coalition. In the United States, this has tended to occur roughly every 30 years. Note: there has been no long-term realignment in American politics since 1968 when Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" began to court southern Democrats.
divided government
This is a descriptive term. The government is "divided" whenever the presidency is controlled by one party while the other party controls at least one chamber of Congress.
unified government
This is a descriptive term. The government is "unified" whenever one party controls both the presidency and Congress.
America's first political party. The Federalists supported a strong national government that would encourage manufacturing and financial development.
America's first opposition (minority) party. Also referred to as Jeffersonian Republicans. They had their roots in the Anti-Federalist concern for preserving state power against the growth of federal power. They also favored agriculture over finance and France over Great Britain. They became the dominant, majority party beginning in 1800.
Democratic Party
America's first mass political party organized at the local, state, and federal level. Founded in 1828, it is the oldest political party in the world today. The Democratic Party emerged out of the Democratic-Republican Party. It supported expanding the right to vote and expanding the institution of slavery.
Whig Party
Opposition party during the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. Eventually split over the issue of slavery.
Republican Party
Founded as anti-slavery party in 1850s that first came to power in 1860. The election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, prompted the secession of many Southern states fearful that slavery would limited, regulated, or abolished. The Republican Party would remain the dominant, majority party until 1928, while the Democratic Party remained essentially a southern party (Solid Democratic South) until the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement.
third parties
Parties that organize to compete against the two major political parties. In the United States, the design of the electoral system makes it very difficult for third parties to win elections. They can, however, influence the party platform of major parties by generating support for new policies. (Ex: Libertarian Party influences Republican economic policy, Green Party influences Democratic environmental policy).
Tea Party (Freedom Caucus)
The Tea Party is not actually a third party, but a faction (caucus) within the Republican Party. It arose in 2010 in opposition to George W. Bush's Wall Street bank bailout and Barack Obama's health care reform. The Tea Party believes that many Republicans are too moderate and that the party needs to elect more conservatives. Elected officials that are members of the Freedom Caucus are the most conservative in Congress and focus mainly on fiscal and budget issues (reducing national debt, entitlement spending, etc.).