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Unformatted text preview: American Political Parties American Lecture Outline Lecture Why a 2-party system? 3rd Parties in America Party Issue Advantages The players in the Republican and Democratic Parties The Politician’s Dilemma – Appeal to core base (the ideologues) or to moderates? Trends toward polarization in American Politics History of American Political Parties American Political Parties American The Basics: – Divided government exists at the national level (Democrats control the Divided presidency and the US Senate; Republicans control the US House); – Unified government under Republican control exists in Texas » The President: Barack Obama (Democrat) » Partisan split in the US Congress (2011) US House: 241 Republicans; 193 Democrats – Rep. Lee (R-NY) resigned after being caught trying to date a woman he met Rep. on Craig’s List. Rep. Lee is married. His seat will be filled in a special election in 2011 election US Senate: 53 Democrats; 47 Republicans – 2 Democratic Senators call themselves Independent Democrats » The US Supreme Court: a 5 to 4 conservative to liberal split » The Governor of Texas: Rick Perry (Republican) Rick All other executive positions in Texas are held by Republicans Texas House: 101 Republicans 49 Democrats Texas Senate: 19 Republicans 12 Democrats » Partisan split in the Texas Legislature (2011) US House Districts in Texas US Examples of Geographically-Enclosed Districts Congressional districts are designed to have about 1,000,000 people One candidate from each district is elected – an electoral system with “single member” districts tends to produce a twoparty system District 14 – Ron Paul (R-TX) holds the seat for Texas District 14 District 18 – Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) holds the seat for Texas Congressional District 18 A Plurality Electoral System – The candidate or party which wins the most votes (not necessarily a majority but a plurality) captures the seat in government. In all scenarios—two parties, three parties, four parties or five parties competing for office, 50% (plus one) would win…Plurality electoral systems tend toward two parties because in a two-party system, 50% (plus one) is more easily achieved In the first scenario below, party #4 would win the seat in government, but… Party #1 Wins 20% Party #2 Wins 20% Party #3 Wins 20% Party #4 Wins 21% Party #5 Wins 19% In the second scenario below, a coalition of parties 1, 2, and 3 would win 50+%. Two voting blocks is the tendency of a plurality system Party #1 Party #2 Coalition wins 60% Party #3 Party #4 Party #5 Coalition wins 40% Third Parties in America Third 3rd parties rarely win but they play an important role in the 3rd American political system American – Not only are 3rd parties shut out of office in a plurality electoral system, there are ballot access laws that make it difficult for 3rd parties there – 3rd parties, however, can occasionally turn an election in favor of one of the major party candidates the » Close calls from recent Presidential Campaigns: Close 2000 – Nader won only 3% of the vote but he hurt Al Gore in Florida and in New Hampshire…Gore would have likely won the 2000 presidential election had Nader not been in the race 2000 1992 – Perot won 19% of the vote…still, the post-election analysis suggests that Clinton would have still beaten Bush41 even had Perot not run 1968 – Wallace won 13% of the vote, swept the southern states, some of which may have gone to Humphrey (or maybe not); still, had Humphrey won some southern states, he would have won the election 3rd Parties in America 3rd Party History » 3rd Parties are the initiators of reform and are sometimes successful in getting the major parties to adopt their issues in Free Soil Party (1848) – advocated the abolition of slavery – The Republican Party captured the slavery issue in the late 1850s, The slavery ended at the end of the Civil War (1865) slavery Prohibition Party (1872-1916) – advocated making alcohol illegal – 18th Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1920, which banned alcohol across the nation alcohol Populist Party (1892-1900) – advocated government activism and political reforms political – Income tax, 8-hour work day, regulation of big business, and political Income reforms (secret ballot, initiative, referendum, recall) – All adopted in early 1900s Progressive/Socialist Party (1904-1932; 1944) – advocates of socialism (i.e., government control of the economy) socialism – Democratic party implemented “watered-down” socialism in the New Democratic Deal: social security, regulation of wages and hours, welfare, 3rd Parties in America 3rd Party History (continued.) – In the modern age, 3rd Party movements have lasted only one or two election cycles or » The major parties have become very good at identifying The “problem” issues, and typically absorb 3rd Party issues before “problem” they harm the major parties (this is a type of co-option) they » Only the Libertarian Party (1972-present) has lasted longer than Only one or two election cycles, but it has not done well (averages 1% of the vote) of The Republican Party has a small libertarian component The Ron Paul (R-TX) is a libertarian who is now a member of Ron the Republican Party the – Paul ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 – Paul was the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988 How many elections have been turned by 3rd Party candidates? Probably the elections of 1860, 1912, and 2000 (not shown on table) were turned by 3rd party candidates. The elections of 1848 and 1968 may have also been turned from one major candidate to another, but it’s a closer call in those cases Third Parties in America Third Table. Minority Vote Winners in Presidential Elections Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Year 1824 1860 1912 1992 1968 1856 1892 1848 1888 2000 1876 1880 1884 1916 1996 1844 1948 1960 Candidate J.Q. Adams Lincoln (R) Wilson (D) Clinton (D) Nixon (R) Buchanan (D) Cleveland (D) Taylor (Whig) B. Harrison (R) G.W. Bush (R) Hayes (R) Garfield (R) Cleveland (R) Wilson (D) Clinton (D) Polk (D) Truman (D) Kennedy (D) % Popular Vote 30.9% 39.8% 41.8% 43.0% 43.4% 45.3% 46.1% 47.3% 47.8% 47.9% 48.0% 48.3% 48.5% 49.2% 49.2% 49.5% 49.6% 49.7% % Electoral Vote 32.2% 59.4% 81.9% 68.8% 55.9% 58.8% 62.4% 56.2% 58.1% 50.4% 50.1% 58.0% 54.6% 52.2% 70.4% 61.8% 57.1% 56.4% The Popular Vote in Presidential Elections Note that 18 of 56 presidential winners won with less than 50% of the vote The reason: 3rd Parties win votes that would otherwise go to the major candidates Party Advantages/Disadvantages Party – Republicans have an advantage on national defense and on Republicans getting tough on crime getting – Democrats have an advantage on issues involving welfare and Democrats the environment the – Economic issues are up for grabs, though the tax issue tends Economic to give Republicans more of an advantage than the poll indicates indicates “Power Players” in National Politics Republicans – Religious conservatives » End abortion, family values End (i.e., traditional marriage), ideological and active in the party the – Economic conservatives » Less regulation on Less business, free trade business, – Neo-conservatives » Foreign policy oriented: Foreign aggressively spread democracy in the world democracy – Business interests » Less regulation on business Less (e.g., telecommunications: freeing corporations to own TV, radio and cable) Democrats – Labor Unions » Protectionism (i.e., higher Protectionism tariffs) to keep jobs in America tariffs) – Teachers Unions » Oppose school choice; preserve Oppose public school system public – Trial Lawyers » No limits on court settlements – Minority groups (i.e., blacks, Minority hispanics, Jews, women, gays) hispanics, » Affirmative action to help Affirmative minorities get ahead minorities – Liberals » Ideological and active in the Ideological party, multilateral orientation on foreign policy on Ideology of Party Activists Ideology Party activists are those who work within the party Party organization to build party support and to elect candidates…they are the dominate voting bloc in primary elections elections The Politician’s Dilemma The Party activists tend to be ideological (far right or far left) but Party the general public is moderate and non-ideological the – Primary Elections (when candidates of the same party run against one another): Republican and Democratic candidates have to appeal to their respective ideological bases…or risk losing their core supporters!! respective Example #1: Hillary Clinton (D) voted in favor of authorizing the president to fight war in Iraq (2002 vote), which was very unpopular with the liberal base of the Democratic Party unpopular – Needing a victory in the Texas and Ohio primaries (March 2008), Needing Hillary declared for the first time that she regretted her vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq…this was a move to try to neutralize Barak Obama’s advantage on the war with the liberal base, given that he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning Example #2: John McCain chose Sarah Palin, a pro-life, pro-gun, “gut” conservative as his VP running mate, in part, to please the conservative base of the Republican Party conservative – McCain wanted to chose Senator Lieberman, a pro-war Democrat, or McCain Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican. Instead, McCain felt he needed to excite his conservative base with his choice of Palin to The Politician’s Dilemma The Party activists tend to be ideological (far right or far left) but Party the general public is moderate and non-ideological the – General Election – When candidates of different parties run against each other, candidates must appeal to the moderates in the center » Both Republican and Democratic candidates must moderate their Both positions in order to win…the vast majority of the ~130 million voters in America are moderate, not ideological in Example 1: Barack Obama took a slightly harder stand on foreign policy, since the public generally likes “toughness” policy, – Obama promised to continue Bush’s policies of airstrikes inside Obama Pakistan to target leaders of Al Qaeda, even without the permission of Pakistan…Obama positioned himself as the “tougher” candidate on this issue, though “toughness” was not a decisive issue in 2008 this Example 2: Because he is moderate on many issues, John McCain (R-AZ) should have been positioned to do well in the general election for president in 2008 – Though McCain’s “hawkish” stand on the Iraq War hurt him with Though Democrats, and because of his problems with the conservative base, he positioned himself as being “too conservative” for moderates he Once in power, can a politician ignore the party base? – No! A politician must cater to the base (the core ideologues) as well as to the center of the political spectrum (the moderates) the – Ignoring the party base has devastated many presidents » 11 of 43 presidents have lost their own party’s support throughout 11 American history…each was ruined politically American » In the modern era, presidents who lose their party base invite primary In challengers in the next election challengers In the past (1800s), presidents were dropped by the party and were In not re-nominated to run for a second term » Some modern examples: LBJ – Opposition to the Vietnam War invited 3 “peace candidates” to challenge LBJ in the Democratic primaries…LBJ decided not to run for re-election in 1968 decided Gerald Ford – Ford, being too moderate, invited a challenger on his right (Ronald Reagan) in the primaries…Ford beat Reagan but went on to lose to Jimmy Carter in the general election of 1976 went The Politician’s Dilemma The The Politician’s Dilemma The Once in power, can a politician ignore the party base? Carter – Carter, being too conservative for the Democratic Party, invited a challenger on his left (Ted Kennedy) in the primaries… invited Carter lost the general election to Reagan in 1980 Bush41 – After raising taxes and generally abandoning the Reagan domestic agenda (e.g., Bush approved more regulations: clean air act, clean water act, Americans with Disabilities Act), Bush41 invited a challenge on his right from Pat Buchanan in 1992 invited – Bush won the primary elections over Buchanan Bush – It’s not clear whether Perot’s entry as a 3rd Party candidate hurt Bush or Clinton more, but Perot’s candidacy did indicate that neither party was addressing the issue of the budget deficit » Clinton was a rare exception: He never catered to his party base After being out of power for 12 years, Democrats wanted a winner Clinton had no challengers from the left, even though he took quite Clinton a few conservative stands (e.g., welfare reform, deregulation, free trade) trade) » Bush43 had no challenger in 2004: Bush’s base was happy with him Trends Toward Polarization Trends The parties are increasingly polarized The – The causes of polarization: » Personal distaste (even outright hatred) for a political leader Democrats on Nixon – Nixon was a sleaze who wouldn’t hesitate to destroy someone for political gain…Nixon allegedly trumped up charges of communism on Alger Hiss (1948), destroyed Hiss’ career Republicans on Clinton – Clinton is everything anathema to “family values”: a dope head, draft-dodger, “un-American” anti-war protester (in Vietnam), an adulterer, and a habitual liar protester » Intense policy differences (e.g., Vietnam War, Reagan’s escalation of the Cold War, War in Iraq, Obama’s activist agenda on health care) the Democrats on Bush 43 – With the war in Iraq, Bush made America less safe by attracting more terrorists to the cause of destroying America and by distracting from Afghanistan, where the US military should have been focused should Republicans on Obama – Obama is a socialist at heart; he wants America to be like the European social democracies with universal health care, stronger regulation of the economy, and high taxes health Trends Toward Polarization Trends The parties are becoming increasingly polarized – The causes of polarization: » No traction on policy – Neither Republicans nor Democrats can move the country to the right or left because the margins between them are close country Why is this? Polling and focus group testing allows the parties to Why adjust positions quickly (i.e., co-opt issues that favor the opposition) adjust – As a result, a possible realignment of the parties becomes more remote… no big changes in policy are possible if no one party can garner a no significant edge significant – Examples: Clinton co-opted Welfare Reform, which was an issue that Clinton favored Republicans; Bush43 co-opted prescription drugs for the elderly, which is an issue that favors Democrats which This lack of traction on policy has led to very high frustration levels… increased bitterness » Given the (financial) crisis atmosphere today, Obama has had traction, but Given he too has faced stiff resistance, especially on health care he Still, frustration levels remain high on both sides today because the two Still, parties remain very competitive (there is no one dominant party today) parties History of American Political Parties Political Major Parties Democrats and Republicans have been the major parties in America since 1856 3rd Parties Third party challenges have occurred often throughout US history History of American Parties History Parties sometimes change positions to cater to certain Parties elements of the public elements – The goal: Maintain the support of a constituency which has changed positions or to attract new support from another constituency positions – The Republicans » Republicans changed positions on “free trade” to maintain Republicans business interests within the party business Republicans opposed “free trade” when businesses were less global in Republicans scope (up until the 1950s), but switched to a “pro-free trade” position when business expanded internationally when » Republicans attracted conservative Democrats by adopting a more Republicans conservative stance on social issues, particularly on civil rights (race) but also on abortion, (anti-) gay rights and war (race) Republicans were the “liberal” party on civil rights (equity for blacks) Republicans between 1860 and 1960, but then became more conservative in the 1960s between Republicans attracted conservative Democrats on the issue of war and the Republicans use of force by becoming more “hawkish” during the Vietnam era use Republicans attracted religious conservatives on the social issues (e.g., Republicans pro-life on abortion and anti-gay rights) in the 1970s & 1980s pro-life Parties sometimes change positions (continued) History of American Parties History – The Democrats » Democrats have appealed to a more secular (less religious) Democrats constituency, beginning in the 1970s constituency, The Democrats have attracted those who are pro-choice on abortion and The pro-gay rights and generally more tolerant regarding personal freedoms (that some consider to be immoral) (that The religious element of society was once evenly divided The between the Republican and Democratic Parties (1950s-70s) between – In the late 1800s & early 1900s, Democrats even catered to the most In religious element in society: there was a “religious left” movement that was socially conservative (advocated banning alcohol) but very liberal on economic issues (promoted socialism) liberal » Democrats championed civil rights (equity for blacks) in the 1960s Minorities (especially blacks but Hispanics, Asians and even women also) Minorities have tended to vote more for Democrats since have Prior to Vietnam, neither party held an advantage on being “tough against Prior America’s enemies,” but Republicans do now, which has hurt Democrats America’s » Democrats became more “dovish” during Vietnam History of American Political Parties History Political Parties have Disappeared – The Federalist Party » The Federalist Party disappeared after the War of 1812 Federalists in the New England states were discredited for Federalists considering secession in opposition to the war considering – The Whig Party » Whigs failed to address the slavery issue…Republicans, as a 3rd party, seized the issue and displaced the Whigs as a major party in 1850s seized The Republicans were the only 3rd Party in US history to displace a major party major Will either the Republicans or Democrats disappear? » Highly Unlikely: The parties today monitor public opinion so closely The that they can adjust their positions on the issues quickly, to avoid the mistake the Whig Party made on the issue of slavery mistake To divert support away from a rising 3rd party, one of the major parties will simply adopt popular 3rd party issues parties ...
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