The role of political parties in the united states

A political party offers candidates for public office.

The role of political parties in the united states

The role of political parties in the united states

Polin, professor of government and politics at St. He has contributed occasional articles to The Freeman for the past twenty years. The Constitution of the United States of America nowhere mentions political parties or otherwise indicates their utilization in the American system of government.

But political parties are instrumental in moving that governmental system, which derives nationally from the emergence of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist parties, respectively in support of and against ratification of the Constitution.

And that governmental system could not operate according to its past and present character without political parties. For that governmental system is one that political scientists term party government. The matter becomes more comprehensible when we distinguish between the form and the character of the American system of government.

But the unwritten constitution that supplements our written Constitution provides a democratic character to the American system of government, and it does so by the manner in which American political parties operate and the functions they perform.

Democracy and Republic Explained We may note at this point, therefore, that American constitutionalism consists in faithful adherence to both our written Constitution and to a traditional set of principles and practices, some of which were already in place and some of which developed after ratification to implement the Constitution.

We may note here, also, that this American system of constitutional government has evolved as a democratic republic, and that most Americans do not understand precisely the meaning of these two terms and how they may be found either in combination or one without the other.

Policy and structure

But what is a republic? Very simply, a republic is a form of government not headed by a king and where a public office cannot be The role of political parties in the united states or owned. In the eighteenth century, a republic was usually thought of as a representative form of government with a legislature elected by qualified male citizens.

Thus, a republican form of government neither precludes nor entails democracy.

The role of political parties in the united states

Limited, Constitutional Government Under a governmental system that is characterized by constitutionalism and democracy—be it a republic such as the United States of America or even a monarchy such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, or Sweden—an essential feature is that the authority and processes of government are limited by constitutional provisions, tradition, institutional practices, and various groups.

Among these counteracting groups are such different organized and unorganized types as are brought to mind when we mention the media, political parties, civic-action associations, labor, industry, agriculture, religion, education, and the scientific community.

Where permitted to operate, they all serve as counterweights that limit government by tending to restrain it from acting harmfully to them and to constrain it to act beneficially to them.

Free media are leading performers of such a dual negative-watch-dog and positive-creative role in an open society. Free political parties are quite similar to free media in that both are initiators and communicators of proposals: As is also the case with our free enterprise economy, they are free because they are not, in general, operated by government or unduly subject to its control.

Political parties play an additional role in maintaining democratic, constitutional government, however, in that they are involved in effective action as well as discussion: Observe the use of the plural here—political parties—for where only one political party is permitted, there is neither constitutionalism nor democracy.

There may be a republic, but it will certainly be a case of authoritarian pseudo-constitutional-ism and pseudo-democracy if it be a one-party system of government. Authentic constitutionalism and authentic democracy require that there be an adversary system of political parties that operate freely in the interest of the public, their members, and their clients, but not a party that is a controlled instrument of the government.

Fewer Party Jobs and Favors In the past, American political parties were customarily looked to for jobs and favors by the party faithful and contributors. Because of the development of a merit system for the civil service that is based largely on competitive examination and the dispensation of welfare and unemployment benefits by government agencies instead of by party bosses, many who formerly clung to the party and tried to keep in its good graces now look directly to government for such help and ignore party channels.

As a result, party control over its adherents has greatly lessened, and its influence in neighborhoods has also gone down as community-action and civic-improvement groups have stepped up their activities.

In addition, party discipline over legislative members has obviously decreased: But those seeking to advance their interests still make substantial contributions to political candidates, parties, and action committees, especially in this time of super-expensive television campaigns.

Nonetheless, the system of party government prevails and flourishes in America: In modern national states where limited, constitutional government is practiced, there is either similar control by one party or control by a coalition of parties, which is simply an alternative model of party government.

In both cases the central idea of party government is represented: Two-Party System Workability Although complaints are heard that the American two-party system is too narrow in its representation of the electorate, a number of important points in its favor may be listed.

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It is less confusing to the voter. It makes it easier to arrive at a legislative working majority and decisions instead of having intra-house stalemate. The two major parties make overlapping appeals to the same middle-of-the-road largest section of the electorate; therefore the two-party system neither leads to polarization and eventual head-on conflict of political segments nor to disturbing, extreme alteration of governmental policies and behavior when the opposition is voted in.

The average citizen usually finds himself in agreement on enough items with either victor and not sufficiently threatened to become subversive or violent. Also, he knows the time of the next election that will give him an opportunity to vote for a change of results.

The two-party system in America therefore undeniably produces desiderata of the highest order: Dynamic equilibrium may be described in this sense as keeping government in pace with new conditions by bringing about rational adjustment or change in its policies and activities.

Perhaps this criticism may bring about some improvements in the way we elect our public officeholders. Nonetheless, abandonment of the present system of elections and party government is not favored by more than a very few.Political factions or parties began to form during the struggle over ratification of the federal Constitution of Friction between them increased as attention shifted from the creation of a new federal government to the question of how powerful that federal government would be.

Nov 17,  · Republican Party, byname Grand Old Party (GOP), in the United States, one of the two major political parties, the other being the Democratic Party. During the 19th century the Republican Party stood against the extension of slavery to the country’s new territories and, ultimately, for slavery’s complete abolition.

Political Parties in the United States The leaders of the American Revolution did not like the idea of parties and political battles between parties. Upon his retirement from public life in , George Washington warned Americans against "faction" (parties).

parties in Congress because it focuses on the role of the individual congressman and not on the political party as a whole. AP ® UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS.

THE ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE UNITED STATES "Hey, isn't your eighteenth birthday next week?" Marta asked Tony. "That's right," Tony replied. "Great. That means you can vote in the next election if you register soon enough. The United States Constitution does not mention political parties, primarily because the Founding Fathers did not 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 .

The Origins and Functions of Political Parties | Scholastic