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Political Parties & Political Climate In America

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Releasing the Elephant and the Donkey

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” – George Washington, Farewell Address.

Partisanship within the United States has created a visor of biased allegiance to two political parties: The liberal Democrat, or the conservative Republican. Because of the differences in values and policies these groups hold, be it not allowing people of different sexual orientation to marry, or deciding what to do about an unborn child, the United States has always been at war with itself ever since. The political climate in America is only a breeding ground for hatred of difference and absence of camaraderie in deciding the future of its own people.

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With the tension so present, it has become easier for politicians and the like to become increasingly astute in manipulating this nationwide division to assist in determining elections, whether a policy gets enforced, those that determine the leader of the free world, and ultimately, our political freedom; A fear even the father of the country had expressed. Since political parties have become these detrimental devices that are ever so closer in producing a black and white society, it is necessary to jettison the nation of them as a whole.

Political parties have existed within the United States as early as a year after the nation claimed its independence. Many historical and political pundits typically identify six eras of party systems within the United States (Horger.) Initially, the two groups were the Federalists, and the Jeffersonian Republicans, and had both emerged as the core economic values of the Washington administration, providing methods of chartering the first national bank, which had created opposition in the South and mid-Atlantic (Horger.) Despite implicit bias, the Jeffersonians at the time did not consider themselves a party and saw their own as political servants who saw Jeffersonians as an obstruction faction (Horger.).

Jeffersonians had expressed their own contempt towards the Federalists, reducing them as cynical aristocrats and figures who only wanted to destroy American Liberty (Horger.) The two sides held the belief that the Republican American experiment was threatened by the fact that an opposing faction even existed, regardless of their differences, much like in modern politics now. Another strong factor is that these new identities were nothing more than embodiments of labels, in which those who voted saw economic beliefs overlap significantly with their own biases, an occurrence that would repeat itself to the present day.

The Second party system consisted of the Jacksonian Democrats, and the Whigs, again both groups were created out of national disagreement in regard to a strong executive (Horger.) However in this political era there were two significant differences than the first. Around the 1830s most states had gotten rid of economic voting tests, which in turn allowed more citizens to vote and so the voter turnout had increased exponentially (Horger.) Because women still could not vote, the nation’s politics were very much literally defined as being a white adult man, in which partisanship became strongly linked to masculinity (Horger.).

It is evident that the two-party system in the U.S. has shifted from what it originally was in 1792, yet the binary conflict remained and became deeply embedded in the nation. It was not until 1932 that the nation would move closer to its current era political system. The fifth party system, in which the Democrats had been saved by the great depression, was distinguished by Franklin Roosevelt’s unprecedented interventions as a response to the economic crisis (Horger.) It is unknown by many historians when the sixth political party system was initially conceived, but the shift was most prominent in 1964 when the Democrats committed to civil rights (Horger.)

Many had supported this legislation in the region than the party itself, as many northern republicans had supported it (Horger.) However, after arch-conservative Barry Goldwater, a Senator from Arizona, had voted against the Civil rights act and captured the Republican Presidential nomination, the southern conservative whites had started to move out of the Democratic party (Horger.) Goldwater lost horribly but had gained significant traction in the south. African-Americans had voted for Lyndon Johnson 9 to 1, and had voted Democratic ever since (Horger.) The political shift in the United States was obviously not an instantaneous one, however after the 1960s, the nation had inevitably remodeled itself and its parties into the current Conservative Republican and Liberal Democrat.

Since party systems were constantly established and assessed throughout the nation’s history, it became more apparent that party identification was a core factor in electoral behavior. Author and Political Scientist, Russell Dalton, reports that “Party Identification is an early-socialized, enduring, affective, psychological identification with a specific political party.” Political parties are typically inherited and passed on by previous generations who have previously formed an allegiance to any one party due to the prior generation believing a particular party would appropriately encompass their families’ values. Dalton also reports that “Children often receive a consistent string of partisan cues as their parents openly discuss the news of the day or the events in an election.”

With this obvious influence, it does not take long for a child to eventually decide where their own beliefs and biases would fall on the political spectrum and thus a party loyalty is formed by association. The Bipartisan system in the U.S. has always proven to be its own meter of stability, being few factors are more important for national elections than citizen’s individual party identities (Dalton.) These party identities establish critical divisions in electoral strength where the competition of a campaign occurs. These allegiances are a significant factor in ensuring stability of the party system itself (Dalton.) The motives of party identity are of main importance in accounting for behavior within the political climate. It is imperative to bring to attention the close relation our bipartisan system shares with the Electoral College System.

Works Cited:

  1. “Weak Structures, Strong Parties.” The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations before and after Reform, by Marty Cohen, University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 81–100.
  2. Dalton, Russell J. “Party Identification and Its Implications.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, 16 May 2017, politics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-72.
  3. Gripp, Andrew, and Georgetown University. “Why We Need Political Parties, and More of Them.” IVN.us, 18 Mar. 2015, ivn.us/2015/03/18/we-need-political-parties/.
  4. Fields, Jessie, et al. “The Case for Abolishing Political Parties in the U.S.” IVN.us, 2 Oct. 2016, ivn.us/2016/09/26/abolish-political-parties/.
  5. “What Is The Electoral College?”National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html.
  6. Horger, Marc. “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: America’s Love Affair with the Two-Party System | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective.”
  7. Top Ten Origins: White Supremacist Violence | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, 10 July 2013, origins.osu.edu/article/breaking-hard-do-americas-love-affair-two-party-system.
  8. “Political Action Committees (PAC).” FEC.gov, transition.fec.gov/rad/pacs/FederalElectionCommission-RAD-PACs.shtml.

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