Political parties in the United States | Wikipedia audio article

Political parties in the United States | Wikipedia audio article


Political parties in the United States are
mostly dominated by a two-party system consisting of the Democrats and the Republicans. Though the United States Constitution has
always been silent on the issue of political parties since at the time it was signed in
1787 there were no parties in the nation.==Overview==
The need to win popular support in a republic led to the American invention of voter-based
political parties in the 1790s. Americans were especially innovative in devising
new campaign techniques that linked public opinion with public policy through the party.Political
scientists and historians have divided the development of America’s two-party system
into five eras. The first two-party system consisted of the
Federalist Party, who supported the ratification of the Constitution, and the Democratic-Republican
Party or the Anti-Administration party (Anti-Federalists), who opposed the powerful central government,
among others, that the Constitution established when it took effect in 1789.The modern two-party
system consists of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Several third parties also operate in the
U.S., and from time to time elect someone to local office. The largest third party since the 1980s is
the Libertarian Party. Besides the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian
parties, there are many other political parties that receive only minimal support and only
appear on the ballot in one or a few states. Some political candidates, and many voters,
choose not to identify with a particular political party. In some states, independents are not allowed
to vote in primary elections, but in others, they can vote in any primary election of their
choice. Although the term “independent” often is used
as a synonym for “moderate,” “centrist,” or “swing voter,” to refer to a politician or
voter who holds views that incorporate facets of both liberal and conservative ideologies,
an independent can be of any ideological or political persuasion.==History and early political parties==The United States Constitution is silent on
the subject of political parties. The Founding Fathers did not originally intend
for American politics to be partisan. In Federalist Papers No. 9 and No. 10, Alexander
Hamilton and James Madison, respectively, wrote specifically about the dangers of domestic
political factions. In addition, the first President of the United
States, George Washington, was not a member of any political party at the time of his
election or throughout his tenure as president. Furthermore, he hoped that political parties
would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation, as outlined in his Farewell Address.Nevertheless,
the beginnings of the American two-party system emerged from his immediate circle of advisers. Hamilton and Madison, who wrote the aforementioned
Federalist Papers against political factions, ended up being the core leaders in this emerging
party system. It was the split camps of Federalists, given
rise with Hamilton as a leader, and Democratic-Republicans, with Madison and Thomas Jefferson at the helm
of this political faction, that created the environment in which partisanship, once distasteful,
came to being.===First Party System: 1792–1824===The First Party System of the United States
featured the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party (also called “Democratic-Republican”
or “Jeffersonian Republican”). The Federalist Party grew from the national
network of Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who favored a strong united
central government, close ties to Britain, a centralized banking system, and close links
between the government and men of wealth. The Democratic-Republican Party was founded
by Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who strongly opposed Hamilton’s agenda. The Jeffersonians came to power in 1800 and
the Federalists were too elitist to compete effectively. They survived in the Northeast, but their
refusal to support the War of 1812 verged on secession and was a devastating blow when
the war ended well. The Era of Good Feelings under President James
Monroe (1816–1824) marked the end of the First Party System and a brief period in which
partisanship was minimal.===Second Party System: 1828–1854===The Second Party System operated from about
1828 to 1854, following the splintering of the Democratic-Republican Party. Two major parties dominated the political
landscape: the Whig Party, led by Henry Clay, that grew from the National Republican Party;
and the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson. The Democrats supported the primacy of the
Presidency over the other branches of government, and opposed both the Bank of the United States
as well as modernizing programs that they felt would build up industry at the expense
of the taxpayer. The Whigs, on the other hand, advocated the
primacy of Congress over the executive branch as well as policies of modernization and economic
protectionism. Central political battles of this era were
the Bank War and the Spoils system of federal patronage. The 1850s saw the collapse of the Whig party,
largely as a result of decline in its leadership and a major intra-party split over slavery
as a result of the Compromise of 1850. In addition, the fading of old economic issues
removed many of the unifying forces holding the party together.===Third Party System: 1854–1890s===The
Third Party System stretched from 1854 to the mid-1890s, and was characterized by the
emergence of the anti-slavery Republican Party (nicknamed “GOP” for “Grand Old Party”), which
adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs, such as national banks, railroads,
high tariffs, homesteads and aid to land grant colleges. Civil war and Reconstruction issues polarized
the parties until the Compromise of 1877, which ended the latter. Thus both parties became broad-based voting
coalitions and the race issue pulled newly enfranchised African Americans (Freedmen)
into the Republican Party while white southerners (Redeemers) joined the Democratic Party. The Democratic coalition also had conservative
pro-business Bourbon Democrats, traditional Democrats in the North (many of them former
Copperheads), and Catholic immigrants, among others. The Republican coalition also consisted of
businessmen, shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted
to the party’s modernization policies.===Fourth Party System: 1896–1932===The Fourth Party System, 1896 to 1932, consisted
of the same interest groups as the Third Party System, but saw major shifts in the central
issues of debate. This period also corresponded to the Progressive
Era, and was dominated by the Republican Party. It began after the Republicans blamed the
Democrats for the Panic of 1893, which later resulted in William McKinley’s victory over
William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election. The central domestic issues changed to government
regulation of railroads and large corporations (“trusts”), the protective tariff, the role
of labor unions, child labor, the need for a new banking system, corruption in party
politics, primary elections, direct election of senators, racial segregation, efficiency
in government, women’s suffrage, and control of immigration. Most voting blocs continued unchanged, but
some realignment took place, giving Republicans dominance in the industrial Northeast and
new strength in the border states. Historians have long debated why no Labor
Party emerged in the United States, in contrast to Western Europe.===Fifth and Sixth Party Systems: 1933–present
===The Fifth Party System emerged with the New
Deal Coalition beginning in 1933. The Republicans began losing support after
the Great Depression, giving rise to Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the activist
New Deal. They promoted American liberalism, anchored
in a coalition of specific liberal groups, especially ethno-religious constituencies
(Catholics, Jews, African Americans), white Southerners, well-organized labor unions,
urban machines, progressive intellectuals, and populist farm groups. Opposition Republicans were split between
a conservative wing, led by Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft, and a more successful moderate wing
exemplified by the politics of Northeastern leaders such as Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob
Javits, and Henry Cabot Lodge. The latter steadily lost influence inside
the GOP after 1964.Experts debate whether this era ended (and a Sixth Party System subsequently
emerged) in the mid-1960s when the New Deal coalition died, the early 1980s when the Moral
Majority and the Reagan coalition were formed, the early 1990s when Third Way emerged among
Democrats, the mid-1990s during the Republican Revolution, or if the Fifth system continues
in some form to the present. Since the 1930s, the Democrats positioned
themselves more towards liberalism while the conservatives increasingly dominated the GOP. However, new voter coalitions emerged during
the latter half of the 20th century, with conservatives and the Republicans becoming
dominant in the South, rural areas, and suburbs; while liberals and the Democrats increasingly
started to rely on a coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics and white urban progressives.===Minor parties and independents===Although American politics have been dominated
by the two-party system, several other political parties have also emerged throughout the country’s
history. The oldest third party was the Anti-Masonic
Party and was formed in upstate New York in 1828; the party’s creators feared the Freemasons,
believing they were a powerful secret society that was trying to rule the country in defiance
of republican principles.==Modern U.S. political party system==
The modern political party system in the U.S. is a two-party system dominated by the Democratic
Party and the Republican Party. These two parties have won every United States
presidential election since 1852 and have controlled the United States Congress to some
extent since at least 1856.===The two major parties=======Democratic Party====The Democratic Party is one of two major political
parties in the U.S. Founded as the Democratic-Republican Party in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson and James
Madison, it is the oldest extant voter-based political party in the world.The Democratic
Party at its founding supported a different set of issues than it presently supports. From its founding until the mid-20th century,
the Democratic Party was the dominant party among white Southerners, and as such, was
then the party most associated with the defense of slavery. However, following the Great Society under
Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic Party became the more progressive party on issues of civil
rights, while losing dominance in the Southern states to the Republicans. The Democratic Party since 1912 has positioned
itself as the liberal party on domestic issues. The economic philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt,
which has strongly influenced modern American liberalism, has shaped much of the party’s
agenda since 1932. Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition controlled
the White House until 1968, with the exception of the two terms of President Eisenhower from
1953–1961. Since the mid-20th century, Democrats have
generally been in the center-left and currently support social justice, social liberalism,
a mixed economy, and the welfare state, although Bill Clinton and other New Democrats have
pushed for free trade and neoliberalism, which is seen to have shifted the party rightwards. Democrats are currently strongest on the East
and West Coasts and in major American urban centers. African-Americans and Latinos tend to be disproportionately
Democratic, as do trade unions. In 2004, it was the largest political party,
with 72 million registered voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation. Although his party lost the election for president
in 2004, Barack Obama would later go on to become president in 2009 and continue to be
the president until January 2017. Obama was the 15th Democrat to hold the office,
and from the 2006 midterm elections until the 2014 midterm elections, the Democratic
Party was also the majority party in the United States Senate. A 2011 USA Today review of state voter rolls
indicates that the number of registered Democrats declined in 25 of 28 states (some states do
not register voters by party). During this time, Republican registration
also declined, as independent or no preference voting was on the rise. Democrats were still the largest political
party with more than 42 million voters (compared with 30 million Republicans and 24 million
independents). But in 2011 Democrats numbers shrank 800,000,
and from 2008 they were down by 1.7 million, or 3.9%.====Republican Party====The Republican Party is one of the two major
contemporary political parties in the United States of America. Since the 1880s it has been nicknamed (by
the media) the “Grand Old Party” or GOP, although it is younger than the Democratic Party. Founded in 1854 by Northern anti-slavery activists
and modernizers, the Republican Party rose to prominence in 1860 with the election of
Abraham Lincoln, who used the party machinery to support victory in the American Civil War. The GOP dominated national politics during
the Third Party System, from 1854 to 1896, and the Fourth Party System from 1896 to 1932. Since its founding, the Republican Party has
been the more market-oriented of the two American political parties, often favoring policies
that aid American business interests. As a party whose power was once based on the
voting clout of Union Army veterans, this party has traditionally supported more aggressive
defense measures and more lavish veteran’s benefits. Today, the Republican Party supports an American
conservative platform, with further foundations in economic liberalism, fiscal conservatism,
and social conservatism. The Republican Party tends to be strongest
in the Southern United States and the “flyover states”, as well as suburban and rural areas
in other states. One significant base of support for the Republican
Party are Evangelical Christians, who have wielded significant clout in the party since
the early 1970s. President Donald Trump is the 20th and the
current Republican to be elected to the office of President of the United States. Since the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans
have held a majority in the United States House of Representatives, and since the 2014
elections, the Senate.==Major third parties=====Libertarian Party===The Libertarian Party was founded on December
11, 1971. It is the largest continuing third party in
the United States, claiming more than 511,277 registered voters across all 50 states. They currently have about 223 elected officials,
more than any of the other minor parties, including 4 state legislators.The 2012 Libertarian
Party nominee for United States President was former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson. He achieved ballot access in every state except
for Michigan (only as a write-in candidate) and Oklahoma. He received over one million votes in the
election. In 2016, Johnson ran again, receiving over
four million votes, or 3% of the popular vote. The Libertarian Party’s core mission is to
reduce the size, influence and expenditures of all levels of government. To this effect, the party supports minimally
regulated markets, a less powerful federal government, strong civil liberties, drug liberalization,
separation of church and state, open immigration, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic
relations, free trade and free movement to all foreign countries, and a more representative
republic. As of 2016, it is the third largest organized
political party in the United States.===Green Party===In the United States, the Green Party has
been active as a third party since the 1980s. The party first gained widespread public attention
during Ralph Nader’s second presidential run in 2000. Currently, the primary national Green Party
organization in the U.S. is the Green Party of the United States, which has eclipsed the
earlier Greens/Green Party USA. The Green Party in the United States has won
elected office mostly at the local level; most winners of public office in the United
States who are considered Greens have won nonpartisan-ballot elections (that is, elections
in which the candidates’ party affiliations were not printed on the ballot). In 2005, the Party had 305,000 registered
members in the District of Columbia and 20 states that allow party registration. During the 2006 elections the party had ballot
access in 31 states. In 2017, Ralph Chapman, a Representative in
the Maine House of Representative switched his association from Unaffiliated to the Green
Independent Party. The United States Green Party generally holds
a left-wing ideology on most important issues. Greens emphasize environmentalism, non-hierarchical
participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace and nonviolence. As of 2016, it is the fourth largest organized
political party in the United States.===Constitution Party===The Constitution Party is a small national,
conservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers Party
in 1992 by Howard Phillips. The party’s official name was changed to the
Constitution Party in 1999; however, some state affiliate parties are known under different
names. The Constitution Party is strongly pro-life
(i.e. opposed to abortion), and supports gun rights, and restrictions on immigration. It calls for protectionist trade policies. In 2006, Rick Jore of Montana became the first
Constitution Party candidate elected to a state-level office, though the Constitution
Party of Montana had disaffiliated itself from the national party a short time before
the election. In 2010 former Congressman Tom Tancredo was
the Constitution Party candidate for governor of Colorado coming in second with 617,030
votes, 36.4% and ahead of the Republican candidate, Dan Maes, with 11.1%. The Constitution Party’s 2012 presidential
nominee was former Congressmen Virgil Goode of Virginia. Tennessee Attorney Darrell Castle was the
2016 Constitution Party nominee for President of the United States and Scott Bradley of
Utah was the nominee for Vice President. As of 2016, it is the fifth largest organized
political party in the United States.==Issues==Because American political parties are more
loosely organized than those in other countries, not all members of a party subscribe to all
of the officially held positions in their respective party’s platform. The usual degree of variation generally is
higher for the larger parties. Party members may hold different views on
legislation to be enacted at the state or federal levels, and an elected official once
in office may act contradictory to many of his or her party’s positions (this has led
to terms such as “Republican In Name Only”). Furthermore, the modern American political
spectrum, and the usage of left–right politics, differs from the rest of the world. For example, the Democratic Party, the primary
left-of-center party in the country, generally supports a social liberal position rather
than a social democratic one.==References====Further reading==
Critchlow, Donald T. American Political History: A Very Short Introduction (2015)
Dinkin, Robert J. Campaigning in America: A History of Election Practices. Greenwood (1989)
Foley, Edward B. Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States
( Oxford University Press, 2016). xiv, 479 pp. Kleppner, Paul, ed. The evolution of American electoral systems
(1981) experts review the 1st to 5th party systems.. Schlozman, Daniel. When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments
in American History (Princeton University Press, 2015) xiv, 267 pp.
Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur Meier ed. History of American Presidential Elections,
1789–2000 (various multivolume editions, latest is 2001). For each election includes history and selection
of primary documents. Essays on some elections are reprinted in
Schlesinger, The Coming to Power: Critical presidential elections in American history
(1972) Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. ed. History of U.S. Political Parties (1973) multivolume
Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure
in American Political History, 1775–2000 (2001), collection of new essays by specialists
on each time period: includes: “State Development in the Early
Republic: 1775–1840” by Ronald P. Formisano; “The Nationalization and Racialization of
American Politics: 1790–1840” by David Waldstreicher; “‘To One or Another of These Parties Every
Man Belongs;”: 1820–1865 by Joel H. Silbey; “Change and Continuity in the Party Period:
1835–1885” by Michael F. Holt; “The Transformation of American Politics: 1865–1910” by Peter
H. Argersinger; “Democracy, Republicanism, and Efficiency: 1885–1930” by Richard Jensen;
“The Limits of Federal Power and Social Policy: 1910–1955” by Anthony J. Badger; “The Rise
of Rights and Rights Consciousness: 1930–1980” by James T. Patterson, Brown University; and
“Economic Growth, Issue Evolution, and Divided Government: 1955–2000” by Byron E. Shafer

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