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Political Parties

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What Are Political Parties?

The constitution of the United States permits the creation of political parties, which are groups of people that have a broad common interest to win political elections and influence government policies.

Who are the main parties? The Democratic Party The Republican Party

Currently in America there are two main parties, which are the Democrats and the Republicans. There are two historical reasons for having a two-party system. Firstly, this country has had a history of having two different parties after George Washington's  second term as President. Secondly, this country has had both Republicans and Democrats since the 1820's.

What do political parties do?

Since their creation, both parties have tried to gain control of the government in order to get their laws and bills passed. Traditionally, the two groups have had very different views on the way that the government should be run.

Typically, the Republican Party supports business interests, high tariffs and conservative policies. The Democrats promote free trade, numerous welfare programs and more liberal policies. Sometimes the two parties agree on issues such as social security, unemployment insurance, foreign policy and civil rights.

Which party do you identify with? Take our quiz to find out.

What binds a political party together?

Members of a political party should have many of the same views as their colleagues, and are expected to vote in a manner that would be advantageous to their party. The idea behind this is that there is strength in numbers, and to gain political backing and money, they must advance their colleagues as their colleagues advance them.

Can more than two parties exist?

In American history there have been many cases of third parties in addition to the major two parties. These are permitted by the US constitution. Some examples of these parties include the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Reform Party. Often when they run for office, they do not have enough support to win, however they can leave their mark on the election by removing enough votes from a more popular candidate to allow a less popular candidate to win. This was the case in the presidential elections of 1912 and 1968 when the Democrat Woodrow Wilson and the Republican Richard Nixon became president, respectively.



How are political parties organized?

Political parties are divided into three different classes: Local, State and National.

National State Government

State Committee

County Committee

Local Party Organization

Power Distribution

Local Party Organization

At the local level people are divided into voting districts of no more than 1,000 people. This is known as a Precinct. At this level people work to find supporters for their party and candidates. Precinct Captains are responsible for getting people to the polls, organizing information, and for the volunteer workers of in the precinct.

The County Committee

The next level up from a precinct is a ward, which is several precincts together. Their purpose is to select representatives to go to the County Committee. This committee is the most organized and has the power to choose a chairperson that decides what candidates will have the support of the party. They help to appoint judges and other officials.

The State Committee

The next level is the State Committee, which has two main jobs. First, they select candidates to run for state offices. Second, they help to coordinate the actions of the local governments.

The National State Government

At the top is the National Party Organization, which is divided into two halves: The National Committee Group and the National Convention.

The first is composed of 50 state organizers, some of congress as well as state and local officials. They are lead by an elected chairperson, who has the task of fund raising for the party and promoting cooperation between the local, state, and national organizations. Also, they can contact business groups and special interests group that will contribute money for their presidential candidates and other elected officials.

The other section is the National Convention, which is composed of National Committee members. This group meets every four years to nominate candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency.


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