political parties

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party organisation

  • 1 of the 3 key principles of the United States Constitution is federalism- a system of government by which political power is divided between a national government and state governments, each having their own areas of substantive jurisdiction
  • federalism is a decentralised form of government
  • if government is decentralised, political parties are likely to reflect that
  • for most the 19th and 20th centuries American political parties were much more evident at the state and local levels than at the national level
  • little ideological cohesion between the state organisations of the same party
  • being a democrat or republican meant little outside of the presidential election cycle
  • during the last 3 decades of the last century, a number of factors led to the strengthening of national party structures at the expense of the state and lcoal parties
  • new campaign finance laws meant that money flowed more to the national parties and the presidental candidates rather than being raised locally
  • TV provided a medium where candidates could appeal directly to voters- a role that state and local parties had traditionally played through rallies, whistle stop tours and torchlight processions
  • the emergence of more sophisticated and widely avaiable opinion polls allowed candidates to hear what the voters were saying, without actually meeting them
  • the adoption of new technology allowed the national parties to target voters with political and fundraising messages in their homes through computerised direct mailing and social media
  • parties became more ideologically cohesive and politics became more partisan, resulting in more centralised control of the message and the messengers
  • national parties established systems to recruit and train state and local party candidates, offering them legal advice, media training, financial advice, analysis of voting trends and national advertising campaigns
  • the organisational structures of the 2 main parties are today more top down than they were 4 decades ago
  • there is still a clear divide between the national and state parties

national party organisation 

national committees

  • the only manifestations of permanent party structure at the national level are the national committees of each party
  • the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee
  • both have offices in Washington DC
  • each has a chair, elected by the members of the respective national committee
  • by traditional incumbent presidents recommend the chair of their own national committee
  • after the 2016 elections, Donald Trump nominated Ronna Romney McDaniel, the neice of 2012 republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to be the new RNC chair
  • february 2017- DNC elected former secretary of labor Tom Perez as its new chair
  • beat Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota- seen as a victory for the hillary clinton wing of the party over the bernie sanders wing
  • these national party chairs are mostly anonymous party bureaucrats or former elected officals who are seldom in the public eye
  • raise money, hire staff, coordinate election strategy for their party's candidates for local, state and national office
  • responsible for organising the national party convention that meets during the summer of each presidential election year
  • the national…

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