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- A group of people with common political goals which hopes to influence policy through the election process.
- These run candidates for office who represent the political agenda of party members.
- They therefore serve as an institutional link between the electorate and politicians.
Two-Party (Bipartisan) System
The party system the U.S. has, composed of the Democrats and Republicans.
- A form of election held by the majority of states, during which voters select the nominees for political parties.
- Winners of these appear on the ballot during the general election.
- Third parties that form to represent constituencies that feel disenfranchised from both of the major parties.
- These usually unite around a feeling that the major parties are not responding to the demands of some segment of the electorate.
- For example, the Reform Party, under whose banner Ross Perot ran for president in 1996, was one of these whose constituency was fed up with politics as usual.
- Third parties that form to represent an ideology considered too radical by the mainstream parties.
- These reject the prevailing attitudes and policies of the political system.
- The Socialist and Libertarian Parties are examples.
- Third parties that form to promote one principle.
- The American Independent Party, which sponsered the segregationist candidacy of George C. Wallace in 1968, is an example.
- Candidates who run without party affiliation.
- It is very difficult for them to overcome the money and organization of the two major parties.
- Eugene McCarthy, an anti-Vietnam War candidate in 1968, and John Anderson, a fiscal conservative and social liberal in 1980, are two examples.
- A statement of purpose and policy objectives drafted and approved by political parties at their national conventions.
- These rarely exert much influence on day-to-day politics.
- Occasion at which a political party officially announces its presidential nominee and reveals its party platform for the next four years.
- Today, these are merely media events; nominees have already been determined by primary election results.
- Political donations made to parties for the purpose of general party maintenance and support, such as get-out-the-vote campaigns, issue advocacy, and advertisements that promote the party (but not individual candidates).
- These contributions to political parties were banned in 2002 by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) (also known as the McCain-Feingold Bill).
- Choosing candidates from different parties for offices listed on the same ballot.
- Voters have been more inclined to vote this way in recent decades.
- This trend has led to divided government.
- A recent trend in which voters act increasingly independent of a party affiliation.
- This is partially the result of television because candidates can appeal directly to the electorate without relying on their party.
- One consequence is split-ticket voting, which leads to a divided government in which neither party controls both the executive and legislative branches.
- Occurs when a party undergoes a major shift in its electoral base and political agenda.
- The groups of people composing the party coalition may split up, resulting in a vastly different party.
- These are rare and tend to be signaled by a critical election.
- The last one of these occured during the New Deal, when many working-class and ethnic groups joined together under the Democratic party.
- A government in which the presidency is controlled by one party and Congress is controlled by the other.
- This has become a common occurance in recent decades as voters have begun to act more independent of parties and increasingly vote split tickets.
- An election when a new party comes to dominate politics.
- These signal a party realignment.
- The last one of these took place in 1932, as a result of the Great Depression, when the Republican Party became the minority party and the Democratic Party became the majority party, with overwhelming numbers of Democrats being elected to every branch of government at every level.
- These occur over a period of time and show permanence.
- The New Deal coalition of the 1930s lasted for decades.
- A combination of groups of people who work together to achieve a political goal.
- The one that the Democratic Party rests on, for example, is made up of Northern urban dwellers, Jews, African Americans, and labor unions.
- These also form among legislators who work together to advance or defeat a particular bill.
Amicus Curiae Briefs
"Friend of the court" briefs that qualified individuals or organizations file in lawsuits to which they are not a party, so the judge may consider their advice in respect to matters of law that directly affect the cases in question.
Class Action Suits
- A lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of people, and whose result affects that group of people as a whole.
- Interest groups such as the NAACP often use these as a means of asserting their influence over policy decisions.
- The practice of using personal friendships and inside information to get political advantage.
- For example, former legislators must wait one year before lobbying Congress directly.
- However, they may lobby the executive branch immediately after leaving office.
Federal Election Campaign Act (1974)
An act that allows corporations, unions, trade associations, interest groups, and legislators to form political action committees (PACs) as a means of raising campaign funds.
Political Action Committee (PACs)
A group formed by corporations, unions, trade associations, interest groups, and legislators to raise campaign funds.
- Named after the section of the tax code that allows them.
- A tax-exempt organization that promotes a political agenda, although they cannot expressively advocate for or against a specific candidate.