LESSONS FROM A REVIEW OF PARTY HISTORY POLI 360 – American Political Parties Fall 2010 1. American political parties function primarily to control government and to gain power rather than to promote ideology. To prosper and retain viability, parties must adjust to the changing demographic, economic, and social conditions in society. 2. a) While Party demographic composition and issue alignments have persistence and continuity over time, they do change and shift with basic economic and social changes in society. b) In the aggregate, party identity and loyalty are stable reference points. c) They change in numbers sufficient to make the minority party the majority party and vice versa only in stressful, traumatic circumstances. In most cases these changes occur quickly; but in at least one instance the changes took place over several decades (1960s to 2004). 3. a) Social and economic challenges occasionally arise in American society that are so divisive and controversial that neither major party can comfortably accommodate
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