Chapter 8 - Study Guide

Chapter 8 - Study Guide - POLS101I American National...

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POLS101I – American National Government Hagan Chapter Eight Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns: Defining the Voter’s Choice Learning Objectives Having read the chapter, the students should be able to do each of the following: 1. Describe the role of political parties in democratic political systems. 2. Trace the evolution of the American two-party system and discuss the dynamics of realigning or critical elections. 3. Discuss the role and nature of minor parties in American politics. 4. Explain the endurance of the two-party system and describe the obstacles inherent in the American electoral system preventing minor parties from successfully competing for governing power. 5. Compare and contrast the American two-party system and the more common multiparty system with regard to popular representation and accountability. Discuss the influence of each system on coalition building and public policy formulation. 6. Offer reasons for the organizational weakness of American political parties and the decline in their influence as compared to the powerful role of parties in European politics. 7. Describe the effects of the decline of parties and candidate-centered campaigns on popular influence on government, and list other methods through which segments of the public exert control over candidate nomination, election, and policy implementation. 8. Discuss the role played by parties, money, and media in today’s candidate-centered campaigns. Focus and Main Points The author investigates America’s two-party system and its role in American politics in this chapter. The historical development of political parties in the United States is traced and the role of minor parties and the reasons for the emergence and persistence of the two-party system are examined. The author also discusses the effects of this system on policy and coalition formulation. The main ideas included in this chapter are as follows: Throughout most of the nation’s history, political competition has centered on two parties. This two- party tendency is explained by the nature of America’s electoral system, political institutions, and political culture. Minor parties exist in the United States but have been unable to compete successfully for governing power. To win an electoral majority, each of the two major parties must appeal to a diverse set of interests; this necessity normally leads them to advocate moderate and somewhat overlapping policies and to avoid taking detailed positions on controversial issues. American parties are only likely to present the electorate with starkly different policy alternatives during a national crisis. U.S. party organizations are fragmented and decentralized. The national organization is a loose alliance of state organizations, which in turn are loose associations of autonomous local organizations. This reality is due to American federalism and the nation’s diversity, which have made it difficult for parties to act as instruments of national power. Unlike other democracies, the ability of American party organizations to control nominations and
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This note was uploaded on 10/10/2011 for the course POLS 101 taught by Professor Hamilton,t during the Summer '08 term at College of Southern Idaho.

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Chapter 8 - Study Guide - POLS101I American National...

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