Political Parties and the Electoral Process

Question

Write a three to four (3) page paper on the relationship between political parties and the electoral process in which you:
Note: Please insert each question before each answer.
1. Identify three to four (3-4) ideological differences between America’s two (2) major political parties.

2. Analyze key reasons why third parties have never been successful at the presidential level.

3. Determine the role of the campaign process in maintaining the two-party system. Use examples to support your response.

4. Use at least four (3) quality academic resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites to not qualify as academic resources.
Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:
• Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.

• Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required page length.
The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are to:
• Infer a theory why the U.S. has only two major political parties.

• Develop reasoned written and spoken presentations on issues and questions involving the U.S. government and national political processes using the information in the course.

• Use technology and information resources to research issues in the field of U.S. government and politics.
Write clearly and concisely about the U.S. government and politics using proper writing mechanics.

Answer

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  1. Identify three to four (3-4) ideological differences between America’s two (2) major political parties.

Ideological differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are evident in three main issues: intervention by the federal government, economy, and immigration (Levendusky, 2009). Republicans advocate for a limited role of the federal government as a way of promoting the rights of individuals and states. This explains why they oppose the establishment of a minimum wage as well as public healthcare at the national level. Republicans feel that the federal government ought to delegate its role to the states. On the other hand, democrats advocate for a governance system where the government is responsible for caring for all individuals. In the Democrats’ view, large welfare schemes at the federal level are as important as increased employee benefits.

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Regarding the economy, republicans favor free enterprise while democrats advocate for regulation of the economy by the government through programs such as stimulus packages. This belief is also demonstrated through Democrats’ support for a rise in the federal debt ceiling. On immigration, republicans favor strict policies, including instant deportation. In contrast, Democrats tend to support policies that make it easier for immigrants to qualify for American citizenship.

  • Analyze key reasons why third parties have never been successful at the presidential level.

The main reasons why third parties have never succeeded in presidential elections include institutional barriers, a skeptical media that favors a two-party system, domination by the main party machine, a difficult process of nominating presidential candidates, and lack of name recognition. Institutional barriers arise mainly through the Electoral College system, which has historically served to reinforce the two-party system (Hirano & Snyder, 2007). Whenever third parties enter the presidential race, most Americans dismissed them as “spoilers”, thereby depriving them of the support they desperately need to achieve electoral success (Sifry, 2003). Moreover, the way Electoral votes are distributed in most states gives smaller parties no chance of gaining support without seeming to align themselves with either of the two major political parties.

Similarly, the American media remains highly skeptical of third parties, and this explains its tendency to promote the perception that America does not need a third party. At the same time, domination by the main party machine comprising of Democratic and Republican parties makes it virtually impossible for smaller parties to break through the firmly established political system. For example, third party candidates are often prevented from appearing in presidential debates simply because their parties lack name recognition at the national level. Lastly, the process of nominating candidates and registering verified supporters is difficult and highly expensive. This challenge hinders many would-be third-party presidential candidates from getting approval to run against Democratic and Republican contenders.

  • Determine the role of the campaign process in maintaining the two-party system. Use examples to support your response.

The campaign process greatly contributes to the entrenchment of the two-party system because all candidates are encouraged to draw out their campaign strategies based on the “winner-take-all” mentality. The candidates are always made aware of the fact that there will be nothing for them if they finish second. To avoid this fate, parties become preoccupied with ensuring that they become as big as possible while at the same time seeking to smooth over differences among voters and candidates. In other words, the campaign process fails to provide an incentive for the formation of a political party that gets votes but is unable to win an election. Over time, this situation has ultimately led to the domination of the American political system by the largest political parties: the Republicans and the Democrats.

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In this regard, the party aggregation theory can be used to explain how the campaign process in the United States continues to maintain the two-party system (Hedrick&Kettler, 2011). According to this theory, major political parties tend to promote fiscal centralization, thereby creating incentives for voters and candidates to cooperate with a view to decrease the number of political parties that consistently play a dominant role in a jurisdiction(Hedrick &Kettler, 2011). The explanation provided in this theory is closely related to that of smoothing over differences among voters and candidates during campaigns in order to increase the chances of winning an election. The tendency by candidates and voters to participate in the campaign process through a dominant party whose chances of winning an election has played a paramount role in maintaining the two-party system.

References

Hedrick, J. &Kettler, J. (2011). Party Aggregation and Political Consolidation in the American States. Bloomington, IN Midwest Political Science Association.

Hirano, S. & Snyder, J. (2007). The Decline of Third-Party Voting in the United States. The Journal of Politics 69(1), 1-16.

Levendusky, M.(2009). The partisan sort: How liberals became Democrats and conservatives became Republicans. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Sifry, M. (2003). Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America. New York, NY: Routledge.

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