US Political parties

  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 09-04-13 16:48
Were political parties mentioned in the Constitution?
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How were political parties seen by the Founding Fathers?
As damaging institutions that stifled debate & independent thinking & encouraged factionalism.
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What was the practical reality of political parties?
The practical reality of running election campaigns & understanding a candidate's platform meant that parties soon emerged.
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Parties have re-aligned on several occasions - what does this suggest?
That they are fundamentally pragmatic rather than ideological institutions.
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What are the two major parties in the US?
Republican and Democrats.
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What are umbrella parties?
Parties representing a diverse group of people.
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By the twentieth century, what were the Republicans the party of?
Business, restraint to change & to government intervention in the economy. Although on the whole attracting conservatives, as the party that abolished slavery, they also had a liberal wing.
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Who did the Democrats attract?
Right-wing Southerners who opposed the Republican abolition of slavery, but they also had a liberal wing, mainly in the cities of the North.
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What did the Democrats' New Deal Coalition of the 1930s do?
Bought together these factions in addition to blacks, including Catholics, Jews & immigrants.
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What are the factors leading to a non ideological 2 party America?
No parties originally - founding fathers hated political parties; separation of powers, states rights.. no national political body, no whip; different groups - factions within parties; huge diverse nation 'umbrella parties'
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What happened in 2010 regarding the South?
The South switched from being solid Democrat from 1960s to Republican.
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What has happened to Liberal Republicans and Conservative Democrats?
Liberal Republicans have switched to Democrats & Conservative Democrats have switched to Republican.
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What does redistricting mean?
Where boundaries of districts are withdrawn means that states have as many safe seats as possible. This means congressmen only have to represent 1 party than treading both lines - making America more partisan.
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Split-ticket voting has declined between 1952-2008, what does this suggest?
That America is more bipartisan.
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What does the rise of technology & social media mean for the electorate?
Means people are more informed, which divides people even further.
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What are the Republican Party Factions?
Neo-Conservative; Social Conservatives; Fiscal Conservatives; 'Navist' factions.
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What do Neo-Conservatives focus on?
The importance of foreign policy & feel that the USA has a responsibility to challenge regimes hostile to its values.
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What do social conservatives believe in?
That everyone needs clear moral guidance, strong effective leadership & disentives to give in to selfish desires.
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What do Fiscal conservatives argue?
That excessive government intervention undermines incentives & creates a culture of dependency resulting in economic decline.
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What do 'Navist' factions focus on?
Strongly focus on opposing large-scale immigration.
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What are the factions of the Democratic Party?
Blue Dog Democrats; The Democratic Leadership Council; Liberal Democrats; Progressive Democrats & 'Internet Left'
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What do Blue dog Democrats tend to believe in?
Pro-gun & Anti-Abortion
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Who are the Democratic Leadership Council often associated with?
The Clintons - they are more liberal on social issues.
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What do Liberal Democrats advocate?
Free trade, a less militaristic foreign policy & more forceful promotion of civil liberties.
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What do progressive democrats support & oppose?
They oppose the Iraq war & corporate influence in government. Support universal healthcare and greater social & economic equality generally. i.e Obama.
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What do the 'internet left' believe in?
That the party should actively fight against Conservative policies, especially on moral issues.
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What tends to be associated with Democrat policy?
Affirmative action; Tax rises in order to increase spending on education; healthcare reform for all, based on greater government provision; a large increase in federal gov spending in order to pull the US economy out of recession
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What tends to be associated with Republican policy?
Restrictions on availability of abortion; Unilateralism - where the US takes action across the world without first securing the agreement of traditional allies; an amendment to the US constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage; school vouchers
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How was Ross Perot significant in the 1992 election?
He campaigned in the presidential election on a platform focused on balancing the federal budget; gained no EC votes in spite of attracting 19% of the popular vote; both major parties then adopted the policy of deficit reduction
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How was Ralph Nader significant in the 2000 election?
Successfully forced the environmental issue onto the political agenda; polled more than 97,000 votes in Florida, likely that most of these would otherwise have gone to Gore & handed him the presidency
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How was Chuck Baldwin significant in the 2008 election?
He took votes away from the Republican Party; was on the ballot in 37 states; won 200,000 votes in the 2008 election, which is a record of any constitution party presidential/vice-presidential race.
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What are the difficulties facing minor parties?
Rarely win a sizeable proportion of votes; first past the post system; 'matching funds'; state ballot access laws; media coverage; ideology (see mindmap)
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In 2008, what was the combined popular vote of minor parties?
Less than 1%
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How do third parties qualify for matching funds?
By winning 5% of the vote in a previous election. Only 3 candidates have achieved this: Wallace (1968); Anderson (1980) & Perot (1992 & 1996)
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Where is the power at state-level organisation of parties?
Considerable power is vested in the state governors & mayors of big cities.
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How do congressional committees take part in the structuring of major political parties?
By Overseeing policy & campaigning.
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What do the national committees of both major parties do?
The Democratic National Committee & The Republican National Committee; organise National Convetions - made up of between 2,000 & 4,000 people, meeting for only 4 days every 4 years
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How can it be argued that parties aren't organised?
Because congressmen aren't forced to toe the party line.
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Evidence of a 2 party system:
2 major parties who regularly win at least 8-% of the popular vote in general elections; regularly win atleast 90% of seats in legislature - in 2008, only 2 members of senate were not sitting as either Democrat or Republican; Alternately control exec
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Why is there a 2 party system in the USA?
First-past-the-post system unfair to national third parties; major 2 parties encompass such a wide ideological spectrum, there is no room left for any other parties to attract substantial support
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Who do protest votes tend to go to?
Third parties.
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How have parties lost control over presidential candidate selection?
In the 60s, candidates were chosen by 'party bosses' in 'smoke-filled rooms' but now they are chosen by normal voters in presidential primaries.
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How has the way politicians communicate to the electorate changed?
Politicians used to communicate via a party rally, this gave an opportunity for formal question & answer session. Now politicians use TV to communicate with voters & they 'speak back' via opinion polls.
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How are TV campaigns now centred?
They are now more candidate or issue centred rather than party-centred. Voters tend to vote for the candidate or to an issue they are espousing rather than party.
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What has split ticket voting caused a rise in?
Independent voters (although it has declined in recent years... 38% in 1992 & 29% in 2008)
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Evidence that party renewal is active:
The 2 major parties controlled the White House, Congress & the vast majority of state governorships throughout the entire 20th century. As the century closed, only 2 seats in congress & 2 state governorships were not controlled by the 2 major parties
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How does the modernisation of national party structures suggest party renewal?
Republican Brock reforms significantly strengthened the standing of the Republican National Committee over the past 2 decades. In the 1990s, DNC chair Charles Manatt, developed computerised direct-mail facilities & a permanent headquarters in W/DC
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What has happened to 'soft money'
Money has stopped going directly to candidates thus enhancing party renewal.
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How has nationalising electoral campaigns enhanced party renewal?
Republicans in 1994 campaigned around Contract with America. Again in 2002 which resulted in W/H gaining seats in both houses of congress in a mid-term election for 1st time since 1934. Democrats 6 for 06 allowed them to retake control of both houses
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Evidence of party renewal through increased levels of partisanship:
In 1995 - record of partisanship in senate since 1922 & in house highest since 1910
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


How were political parties seen by the Founding Fathers?


As damaging institutions that stifled debate & independent thinking & encouraged factionalism.

Card 3


What was the practical reality of political parties?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Parties have re-aligned on several occasions - what does this suggest?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What are the two major parties in the US?


Preview of the front of card 5
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