AP American Government: Chapter Seven: Political Parties

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Chapter 7: Political Parties Parties—Here and Abroad I. A political party is a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with a label by which they are known to the electorate. A. This definition suggests that three political arenas within which parties may be found. B. A party exists as a label in the minds of the voters, as an organization that recruits and campaigns for candidates, and as a set of leaders who try to organize and control the legislative and execu
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  Chapter 7: Political PartiesParties—Here and Abroad I. A political party is a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them witha label by which they are known to the electorate.A.This definition suggests that three political arenas within which parties may be found.B.A party exists as a label in the minds of the voters, as an organization that recruits andcampaigns for candidates, and as a set of leaders who try to organize and control the legislativeand executive branches of government.C.A powerful party is one whose label has a strong appeal for the voters, who organizationcan decide who will be candidates and how their campaign will be managed, and whose leaderscan dominate all or one branches of government.II.American parties have become weaker in all three arenas. As a set of leaders who organizegovernment, especially Congress, political parties remain somewhat strong. As organizations thatnominate and elect candidates, parties have become dramatically weaker since the 1960s.A.In most states parties have very little control over who gets nominated to office.III.In Europe, almost the only way a person can become a candidate for elective office is to benominated by party leaders. Campaigns are run by the party using party funds. Once in office theelected officials are expected to act and vote together with the other members of their party.IV.The federal government in the US decentralizes political authority and thus decentralizes political party organizations.A.Federalism meant that political parties would acquire jobs and money from local sourcesfighting local contests. This, in turn, meant that the national political parties would be coalitionsof local parties and the national party leaders rarely had as much power as the local ones.V.Political authority in the US has of late come to be far more centralized: the federal governmentnow makes decisions affecting almost all aspects of our lives. Yet the political parties have not become more centralized as a result.A.One reason for this paradox is that in the US political parties are closely regulated bystate and federal laws, and these regulations have the effect of weakening the power of partiessubstantially.VI.In the great majority of states, the party leaders do not select people to run for office, these peopleare chosen by voters in the primary election.A.Though sometimes the party can influence who will win a primary contest, in general people running for state or national office owe little to party leaders.VII.If an American political party wins control of Congress it does not also win the right to selectthe chief executive of the government, as is the case in Europe.A.The president chooses his subordinates from among the persons out of Congress. Shouldhe pick a representative or senator for his cabinet, the Constitution requires that person to resignfrom Congress in order to accept the job. Thus an opportunity to be a cabinet member is not animportant reward for members of Congress, and so the president cannot use the prospect of thatreward as a way of controlling congressional action.B.This weakens the significance and power of parties in terms of organizing thegovernment and conducting its business.Political CultureI.The attitudes and traditions of American voters reinforce the institutional and legal factors thatmake American parties relatively weak.A.Political parties have rarely played a part in the life of the average citizen.The Rise and Decline of the Political PartyThe FoundingI.The Founders disliked parties, thinking of them as “factions” motivated by ambition and self-interest.A.The hostility towards parties was understandable: the legitimacy and success of the newlycreated federal government was still very much a doubt.B.Before political parties could become legitimate, it was necessary for people to be able toseparate in their minds quarrels over policies and from disputes over the legitimacy of the newgovernment.II.The first organized political party was made up of the followers of Jefferson, who, beginning inthe 1790s, called themselves Republicans. The followers of Hamilton kept the label Federalist.A.These parties were loose caucuses of political notables in various localities, with NewEngland being strongly Federalist and much of the South Republican.B.In 1800 Adams’s bid to succeed himself intensified party activity even more.III.So successful were the Republicans that the Federalists virtually ceased to exist as a party.Political parties seemingly disappeared.
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