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• Why do the major parties have a decentralized structure?
• How does the national party machinery and the State and local party machinery operates?
• What are the three components of the parties?
• What are the future possibilities for the major parties?
The Decentralized Nature Of the Parties
Both of the major parties are
• The party out of power lacks a strong leader.
• The federal system distributes powers widely, in turn causing the
parties to be decentralized.
• The nominating process pits party members against one another
because only one person can chosen to be the party’s
All five elements of both major parties work together loosely to achieve the party’s goals.
•The National Convention: meet to pick presidential and VP nominee
•The National Committee: found in each state/territory
•The National Chairperson: leader of national committee who have 4-yr term and picked by presidential candidate
•Two Congressional Campaign Committees: in each house of Congress to help reelect incumbents and serve 2 years
•Based on a particular set of beliefs
•Many built on Marxist thought
–Socialist, Socialist Labor, Socialist Worker, and Communist parties
•Ideological Parties seldom win many votes
•Focus on only one public-policy matter
•Free Soil Party
–Opposed the spread of slaver in 1840-50s
•American Party (“Know Nothings”)
–Opposed Irish-Catholic immigration in
•Right to Life Party
–Opposes abortion today
•Most die away as events have passed them by
Economic Protest Parties
•Rooted in periods of economic disaster
•No clear-cut ideological base
•Proclaim their disgust for the major parties
•Greenback Party, 1876-1884
•Populist Party of the 1890s
•Disappear as the nation climbs out of difficult economic periods
•Have split away from one of the major parties
•Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party of 1912
•Robert La Follette’s Progressive Party of 1924
•Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party, 1948
•States’ Rights Party,1948
•George Wallace’s Independent Party of 1968
•Most form around a person who failed to win the major party’s nomination
Why Minor Parties Are Important
•Minor Party, Anti-Masons, first to use a national convention in 1831
•A strong third-party can play a “spoiler role” pulling votes from one of the major parties
•Take clear-cut stands on controversial issues and draw attention to issues the major parties ignore
Most single-issue parties have been
c. rooted in times of economic crisis.
d. centered around a strong personality.
Over time, the ideas first developed by minor parties are often ____ by major parties.
a. ignored c. suppressed
b. borrowed d. attacked
Parties that hold a particular set of beliefs and have often supported Marxist thinking are known as
a. ideological parties. c. splinter parties.
b. single-issue parties. d. economic protest parties.
Answers: A / B / A
incumbent is the current officeholder
faction or conflicting groups
electorate the people eligible to vote
sectionalism emphasizes a devotion to the interests of a particular region
American Parties: Four Major Eras
The Era of the Democrats, 1800 - 1860•Started with Jefferson in 1800
•The were unopposed until the 1820s when the party split into factions
•The Whig party led by Henry Clay were the major opponents until the Civil War
•During the Democratic Era:
–Voting for white males was established
–Huge increase in the number of elected offices
–Spread of the spoils system
The Era of the Republicans, 1860 - 1932
•Started with Abraham Lincoln in 1860
•After the Civil War, the Democrats only hold was the “Solid South”
•McKinley’s victory in 1896 drew a broader range of electorate and helped Republicans to dominate even more
•In 1912 Republicans nominated Taft and not Theodore Roosevelt so he went to the Progressive Party and the vote was split so Democrat Woodrow Wilson won
•The GOP regained its ground winning the next 3 elections
The Return of the Democrats, 1932 - 1968
•During the Great Depression people voted Democrat FDR
•FDR’s New Deal strengthened the Democratic Party and got them the support of the African American community
•FDR won 3 terms until his death
•Eisenhower won for the Republicans from 1952-56
•JFK regained the Presidency for the Democrats in 1960
The Start of a New Era, 1968 - present
•The Republicans regained power in 1968 with Nixon until the Watergate Scandal in 1974
•In 1976 Jimmy Carter won for the Democrats after the Watergate Scandal and pardon of Nixon hurt Gerald Ford
•Republicans won again in 1980 & 84 with Reagan and held it with George Bush in 1988
•Democrats won in 1992 & 96 with Clinton
•Republicans got it back in 2000 & 04 with George W. Bush
-Democrats won in 2008 & 2012 with Barack Obama
The two-party system developed in the United States mainly because
a. the Constitution established a democratic government.
b. conflicts about the Constitution created opposing viewpoints.
c. leaders and voters agreed on the existence of two parties.
d. it was voted on and approved by both houses of Congress.
The era of one-party domination that began in 1968 was different from past eras of one-party domination because
a. the Republican party gained no new members in Congress.
b. the Democratic party gained no new members in Congress.
c. one party controlled Congress while the other controlled the presidency.
d. minor parties interfered with the power of the Republican party.
Answers: B / C