POLS Chapter 8 - Ch 8 Political Parties Politics in Action...

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Ch 8: Political Parties - Politics in Action o The alternating of power and influence between the two major parties is one of the most important elements in American politics. o Party competition: The battle of the parties for control of public offices. o The meaning of party Parties try to win elections. Political party: a team of men and women seeking to control the governing apparatus by gaining office in a duly constituted election. A way of thinking of a political party is as a “three-headed political giants”: The party on the electorate: the largest component of an American political party. Americans may register as whatever they want, but their registration is not legally binding. The party as an organization: has a national office, a full-time staff, rules and bylaws, and budgets. It also maintains state and local headquarters. The party in government: consists of elected officials who call themselves members of the party. In the US, it is not uncommon to put personal principle or ambition above loyalty to the party’s leaders. If a party is to translate its promises into policies, the job must be done by the party in government. Tasks of the Parties Linkage institutions: translate inputs from the public into outputs from the policymakers. 4 main institutions: parties, elections, interest groups and media. Parties pick candidates: a party’s endorsement is called a nomination. Parties run campaigns: through their national, state and local organizations, parties coordinate political campaigns. However, TV has made it easier for candidates to campaign on their own. Parties give cues to voters: just knowing whether a candidate is a Republican or a Democrat provides crucial info to many voters. Parties articulate policies: within the electorate and within the government, each political party advocates specific policy alternatives. Parties coordinate policymaking: parties are essential for coordination among the branches of government. Parties, voters and policy: the Downs model Anthony Downs Rational Choice theory: popular theory that explains the actions of voters and politicians. Assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of possible alternatives.
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o Argues that voters want to maximize the chance that policies they favor will be adopted by the government and parties want to win office. So a wise party selects policies that are widely favored. The long history of the American party system has shown that successful parties rarely stray far from the midpoint of public opinion. Occasionally, a party may take a risky stand on an issue, but in order to survive in a system where the majority of the opinion is middle of the road, parties must stand fairly near the center. The party in the electorate
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POLS Chapter 8 - Ch 8 Political Parties Politics in Action...

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