The United States history has been dominated by the existence of two major political parties that started with the formation of the Federalist and antifederalist, the parties have evolved to over the years to the present system of the republican and democratic parties. A political party is an enduring organization through which the labels candidates seek and hold elective positions. The political parties serve various functions that include, the planning and implementing the rules controlling elections, they facilitate in the organization of the government utilities and are also linked to the public utilities such as power companies and water services. The parties' persistence and adaptability are well understood by examining their historical development, in the eighteenth-century parties developed from factions to political parties in the nineteenth century while in the twentieth century the parties have undergone tremendous reforms. This study intends to discuss the evolution of political parties in the United States.
The founding fathers mainly had a negative view of the political parties and had a fear of the rise of factions. Therefore, they created a government that would hinder any group from becoming too influential. In the Federalist, no 10 James Madison warned of the dangers of the domestic political function whereby a huge majority would gain control of the government (La Palombara, 2015). The suspicion of the creation of political parties continued to exist among the political leaders for over a century after the founding fathers. However, despite the feelings shown by the founding fathers, the first political party in the United States was formed in 1789 that was the Federalist Party (La Palombara, 2015). The party was formed over three decades before the political parties were formed in Britain and other western countries. Since the creation of the first party, the United States has only had one short period without parties that is from 1816 to 1827 due to the World War II that lead to the elimination of the Republican and the federalist (Bawn, 2012). Despite the warning by Madison in the Federalist no 10, the first political parties started as political functions. The first president of the united states George Washington was not in any party during his election, and therefore he tried to create an administration that did not support the existence of parties, he feared the formation of political parties would lead to stagnation and conflict in the government(Wattenberg, 2009). However, the president's aim of a government with no political parties was short-lived through the emergence of the United States two-party system that was started by the president's advice that is Madison and Hamilton. The two leaders wrote a federalist paper that was against the political function thus making them the fathers of the party system. The formation of the parties was a split camp where Hamilton led the Federalists, and the democrat republican lead by Madison and Thomas Jefferson was left at the helm of the political functions (Bawn, 2012).
Party Realignment, and Party Dealignment in United States
Political parties in American government have undergone a historical period of strong party performance and dominance. Throughout this eras, the ruling party tends to control both the policy agenda and the policy-making institutions. Therefore the dominance has a historical and political impact. Over the past decades, the United States has been in a session of party dealignment and realignment. Political Party realignment occurs when the less popular party gains popularity and gets stronger than the leading party, this mainly occurs as a result of the minority party leading in a critical election. An example of a realignment occurred when the strong Republican era in the United States politics ended in a critical election that leads to the election of the Democrat Franklin Roosevelt. The Republican president Herbert Hoover had become unpopular due to his policies during the great depression. During the campaign period, the Democrat Roosevelt promised to introduce a new strategy to deal with the great depression, and this resulted in the Democrats winning the critical election (Wattenberg, 2009).
Party dealignment occurs in a situation whereby no political party is dominant over the other; this may exist for example when both the Democrats and the republican hold an equal number of seats in the Congress or the Supreme Court. An example of dealignment in the political parties era occurred in 1968 when the republican Richard Nixon was elected as president of the United States, during the election both the Democrats and the republican did not gain the sane monopoly in politics as in the previous errors this lead to the United States government being a divided government. (La Palombara, 2015).
Given the dominance of the Democratic and Republican Parties, in what ways have third parties both helped and hindered politics and democracy in America?
Third parties in the United States face many challenges since in all states both the republicans and democrats candidates are automatically entered into the ballot while the third party candidates have to acquire thousands of signatures from the population to be listed in the ballot. The third parties tend to both help and hinder both politics and democracy in various ways.
How the Third Parties Help Both Politics and Democracy
First, third parties tend to introduce new idea; they propose most of the federal government practices and policies. For example, the populist's party came up with ideas that had great influence on some economic policies of the new deal (La Palombara, 2015). Secondly, they force the other parties to address the specific problems that may affect the population. For example, in 1992 both George Bush and Bill Clinton did not talk on the issue of the budget deficit during their campaigns until the candidate Ross Perot emphasized it in his campaigns (Bawn, 2012). Thirdly, third parties help in keeping the major parties honest through challenging the two main parties.
How the Third Parties Hinder Both Politics and Democracy
Third parties tend to spoil elections; for example, the third party may cost another major party by playing as the spoiler. If the third party attracts all voters from the major party, it causes the major party to lose the election.
Bawn, K., Cohen, M., Karol, D., Masket, S., Noel, H., & Zaller, J. (2012). A theory of political parties: Groups, policy demands and nominations in American politics. Perspectives on Politics, 10(3), 571-597.
La Palombara, J., & Weiner, M. (2015). Political Parties and Political Development.(SPD-6). Princeton University Press.
Wattenberg, M. P. (2009). The decline of American political parties, 1952-1996. Harvard University Press.
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