Lesson Introduction

| June 19, 2015

Political parties have evolved from early American history and are extra-constitutional institutions. At almost all periods of American history, there have tended to be only two major parties at any given time. Hence, the American political system is often and accurately known as a “two-party” system.
The political parties in the U.S. are the oldest in the world; among democratic nations, they may also be the weakest. A political party is a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with labels—a “party identification”—by which they are known to the electorate. This definition suggests the three political arenas within which parties may be found: 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 executive branches of government. This lesson will cover all three arenas.

ASSIGNMENT:
Essay Questions. Answer the following questions thoroughly. These questions must be submitted for grading. Take your time and completely answer each one. Remember: Do not copy your answers from the textbook. Each answer should be one to two pages long.
1.    Political parties were not provided for in the Constitution, and they were generally feared by most of the founders. Describe the development of political parties in the U.S. (Hint: Describe the founding of the first parties and the controversy which separated them, then continue with a discussion of the evolution of parties in the U.S. and describe the key issue or issues around which each new party emerged.)

2.    Discuss the key characteristics of the American party system: two-parties, fragmentation, moderation, and the role of minor parties in American politics.

3.    What advantages would a responsible party government system offer the U.S. over its present party system?

4.    Discuss the differences between election systems that use proportional representation and those which are winner-take-all arrangements.

5.    Describe and discuss at least three different primaries used in U.S. elections.

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