A political party is an organization of voters that advocate specific public policies. Its objective is to elect officials who support similar civic strategies. To accomplish this goal, a political party put forward candidates for public office. In addition, it comes up with opinions on issues such as taxes, war and education. A political party, therefore, helps voters to easily identify a candidate’s stand on certain issues (Scholastic, 2008). How Does A Political Party in the United States Work? Major political parties in the United States are well-organized.
The smallest local division of a political party is called a precinct. County and state committees are the associations tasked with managing political parties. Committee members may be chosen at state conventions, appointed by party officers or elected at primaries. Main US political parties likewise have national committees, which are composed of one woman and one man from each of the each of the country’s 50 states and territories (Scholastic, 2008). Political parties in the US hold national conventions every four years. These conventions are held mainly to nominate a presidential and vice-presidential candidate.
Political parties also draft their respective platforms during national conventions. The platform is the most integral component of any political party – it is both an avowal of what a party stands for and a guide for the actions of the elected officials of the winning party (Scholastic, 2008). The Political Party: An Evolution of Democracy Although the ancient Greeks were the pioneers in developing democracy, they had no concept of the modern political party. The ancient Romans, meanwhile, had a senate that was composed of the Patricians and the Plebeians.
The Patricians represented the nobility, while the Plebeians stood for the middle class and the wealthy merchants. Despite frequent interaction with each other, these two groups usually voted as parties or factions when it comes to matters that were relevant to the sectors that they speak for (Scholastic, 2008). After Rome fell in 476 AD, the people of Europe were politically voiceless for centuries. Political parties during their time were merely factions that supported the continent’s various noble families. The current model of the political party only emerged when representative assemblies began to gain power over the aristocracy.
In England, for instance, the Popish Plot of 1678 turned the modern version of the political party into an important part of its government (Scholastic, 2008). Political Parties in the United States The creators of the US Constitution did not include a provision for the inclusion of political parties in the governmental structure. They believed that political parties were conducive to corruption and hindered people from freely judging issues on their own. James Madison, for one, argued that “factions” (his term for political parties) have the capacity to usurp the government.
Former US President George Washington, meanwhile, showed his disdain of the ideological homogeneity of political parties by appointing men possessing various political policies and philosophies in his Cabinet (MSN Encarta, 2008). Early Political Parties in the United States. Despite the aforementioned objections, informal political parties eventually developed in American politics. One faction, the Federalist Party, is composed of officials such as Vice President John Adams and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
The platform of the Federalist Party included a Treasury Department that played a crucial part in the nation’s economy, a foreign policy in favor of the British and an active federal government. The Democrat-Republican Party (the forerunner of today’s Democratic Party), the other faction, was associated with Madison and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. The Democratic-Republicans were popular with artisans, Southerners and debt-ridden farmers because of their platforms of minimal state intervention in economic affairs, a foreign policy in favor of the French and a limited federal government (MSN Encarta, 2008).
The American Civil War. The Democrat-Republican Party went on to dominate American politics for 28 years after former President Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated in 1801. However, the Civil War put their political supremacy at a standstill. The issue of slavery divided Democrats into Northern and Southern branches. Southern Democrats were not only staunch supporters of slavery; they likewise asserted that a state has every right to leave the Union should the national government attempt to obstruct slavery (Scholastic, 2008).
Strong antislavery sentiments among voters won Republican Abraham Lincoln the presidency in 1861. The Southern Confederacy’s defeat further weakened the Democrats – voters associated them with the Southern cause. As a result, the Republicans dominated American politics for many years between the Civil war and the turn of the century. While the Democrats supported free trade, they supported high tariffs and business interests (Scholastic, 2008). The Great Depression.
The Great Depression was another major event that deeply divided the two parties. Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) assumed the presidency in 1932, bringing with him his New Deal reforms. His fellow Democrats lauded the New Deal, claiming that the federal government has a duty to help those who were reeling from the detrimental effects of the Depression. The Republicans, on the other hand, objected the New Deal’s alleged interference with private enterprise and transformation of the country into a welfare state (Scholastic, 2008).
Conclusion At present, the Democrats and the Republicans share similar views on issues like unemployment insurance, social security, civil rights and basic foreign policy. However, they disagree more often over means rather than goals – maintaining a strong national defense, environment protection, keeping the economy afloat, etc. Most Republicans still do not adhere to state intervention in national problems. On the other hand, Democrats in general still espouse government interference as a means of ensuring the common good.
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