G Pages 806/807

GITELSON CHAPTER 6:  Political Parties (E3)


Political parties – coalitions of people organized formally to recruit, nominate, and elect candidates to public office; link the public and government officials G154

Decentralization – Power is dispersed, the party is regulated at the state level, and no single individual controls the system G155

Primaries– an election in which party members select candidates to run for office under the party banner; takes place before the general election G162

Major parties- parties that frequently win elections

Minor parties – parties that almost never win elections

Independent- someone who registers to vote without a party identification G168

Political parties – coalitions of people organized to recruit, nominate, and elect candidates for public office; they link the public with government officials G154


I. Political partiescoalitions of people organized to recruit, nominate, and elect 
   candidates to public office

A.     Link the public with government officials

B.  Seek to get-out-the-vote (GOTV) G170


II.  Kinds of political parties

A.   Major parties–parties that frequently win elections; U.S. has two of them

1.   Majority party–the U.S. major party that has more than 50% of the     
      registered voters, votes, and/or available seats

2.      Minority party–the U.S. major party with less than 50% of the

      registered voters, votes, and/or available seats

            B.   Minor parties (third parties)–U.S. parties that rarely win elections

                   Sometime act as spoilers for the majority candidates, e.g., 1912 election

1.      Republican (majority party then) incumbent President. Taft

2.      Former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt,

                             then with the Bull Moose Progressive Party

                       3.   Democrat (minority party then) Woodrow Wilson winner


III. Major parties today and their histories

A.     Democrats--originally called Anti-Federalists/Democratic-Republicans—nicknamed “Republicans” by Thomas Jefferson. Later Andrew Jackson renamed the party Democrats, now the oldest existing political party in the world

1.   Became the majority party during the New Deal

2.   Supported by many African Americans and Hispanics, Catholics and
      Jews, women, laborers, and people over the age of fifty. G156

B. Republicans (G.O.P.) Grand Old Party--Lincoln was its first president. G 164.

1.     Founded before the Civil War when it attracted primarily white Protestants.  After 1865 received most African-American’s votes.
Was the majority party after the Civil War until the New Deal.

2.  The minority party in registered voters since F.D.R. and the

     New Deal; supporters are often white, middle class to wealthy

     Protestants G 157


IV. California’s minor parties/third parties

A.     Green Party G168, 171

Nominated Ralph Nader; author of Unsafe at any Speed, in 1996 and 2000. Its main focus is environmental protection and social justice.

B.     Reform Party G168, 169f, 171

Founded by Ross Perot G168 in 1996 he received only 8 % of the popular vote; however running as an independent he received almost 20% of the popular vote in 1992. Former wrestler Jesse Ventura became one of the few minor party governors when he was elected Minnesota governor G169f

C.     American Independent party (AIP)/Taxpayers Party G168, 171

Founded in 1968 in order to end Vietnam War; former Democratic Alabama governor George Wallace was its first presidential nominee.

D.     Libertarian Party G154, 171

Founded in 1972 to advocate its ideology of individual liberty by elimination of most laws, including laws about immigration, environment, and business.

E.     Natural Law Party

Founded in 1992 to advocate the application of the meditation techniques of the Margarita Mahesh Yogi to eliminate social problems.

F.     Peace and Freedom Party

Founded in 1968 to advocate withdrawal from the Vietnam War; to advocate civil rights and the rights of farm workers. Nominated Dr. Benjamin Spock for vice president in 1972 and for president in 1976.


V.  Roles of political parties

            A.   Developing public policy

1.   Parties write platforms, which are statements of party goals and
      specific policy agendas. G 159

2.   Republican and Democratic platforms differ greatly. e.g. Republican
      platform supports a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution
      to outlaw abortion. Democratic platform is pro-choice. G160  

B.   Winning elections-

Party organizations offer candidates training and support, help them raise funds, and encourage voter turnout on election day (GOTV) G170

            C.   Organizing the three branches of the federal government

Parties organize the legislative and executive branches of government.  through elections.  They then seek to appoint their members to the judicial branch.


VI. Single–member districts (SMD)/winner-take all (WTA) compared with

      multi-member districts (MMD)/proportional representation (PR) systems

A.  In single member districts the winner takes all. Only one legislator serves a
     district and a candidate wins with only a plurality.      G166  

B.   In proportional representation an electoral districts have a number
      of legislative seats assigned to party candidates in proportion to the
      number of votes they receive. G167