Essay: American Politics Development of Political Parties

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American Politics

Development of political parties in the U.S.

As United States formed its constitution and political processes after Independence, it was always marked by the presence of two distinct parties that had differing ideologies about governance. The original two parties that laid the foundations of American politics are the federalists and the anti-federalists.

The federalists were businessmen who were led by John Adams, the second President of the U.S. while the anti-federalists were mostly workers and farmers. The federalists favored a strong national government, development of business and did not believe in the strict interpretation of the Constitution. On the other hand, the anti-federalists believed that the state governments should have more power than the central government and a strict adherence to the U.S. constitution. The federalists came to power under John Adams, but they did not last long due to the differences between John Adams and another prominent federalist, Alexander Hamilton. As a result, this party had to be dissolved in early 1800s.

From 1800 to 1820, there was only a single party in the U.S. And in 1820, two parties emerged and they are Democrats and Whigs. The democrats consisted of working class people while the Whigs were represented by the businessmen. The democrats wanted the states to have more power with a weak government at the center while the Whigs favored a strong central government.

When slavery began in 1850s, it further altered the political scene in the U.S. The Whigs party became the Republic Party in 1854 and the first President from this party, Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. Despite this victory and the dominance of republican party until 1932, the southern part of the country was a stronghold of the democrats. Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson were the only two Democratic presidents during this period. The Great Depression changed the tables once again and the democratic party came to power to alleviate the economic suffering of people. They dominated the scene till the 1960s and after that the Republicans and the Democrats have been having a fair shot at Presidency.

Political viewpoints of Republicans and Democrats

The democrats and republicans vary in their political viewpoints and beliefs. Most candidates representing either party will adhere to the beliefs of each party and this makes it easy for the voters to decide which candidate should represent them.

Republicans believe that every individual has a certain place in the society and the Government should help the individual with the right opportunities to establish his or her place in the society. They want minimal Government intervention because the individual is thought to have the abilities to establish his or her life. The resources and infrastructure required to help the individual to establish his or her position in the society has to be provided by the Government.

On the other hand, Democrats believe that it is the duty of the Government to provide for its people and this goal has to be achieved at any cost. They have always insisted on a strong central government with comprehensive legislation that take precedence over community oriented solutions to the social and economic problems.

In terms of economy, the Republicans believe that capitalism is the cornerstone of America's success as the leading economic super power in the world. So, they encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and believe that the Government should create the right environment for businesses to operate efficiently. The Democrats, on the other hand, feel that business is too complicated for individuals to handle it alone and so it should be taken care of by the Government with the interest of the people as its top most priority.

From the defense standpoint, Republicans advocate for a strong national army that is prepared to handle any kind of threat emanating from any country or group. The democrats have always wanted to reduce spending on military because they believe that good foreign relations and negotiations are the key to a peaceful and safe country.

These ideologies are contradictory in many ways and this is the main reason for the numerous rifts and political stand-offs that happen in the Congress when there is no clear majority of either party.

Political campaigning during the 1900s

Political campaigning is influenced by many factors and the most important of them are the attitude of the voters and the technology available to best reach out to them. These two factors have a profound influence on the campaigning techniques and strategies used by the candidates.

During the early part of the 19th century, political parties viewed themselves as a military group because many of its members had experience fighting in wars and combats. So, they fought verbally against a known opponent and in case of defeat, they knew how to reorganize themselves to fight the opponent in the next elections. However, both parties quickly realized that garnering maximum votes from the electorate was the single most important step for victory and they reached out to the people in many ways. They spoke about national and community-based issues and how they would provide solutions to it and sometimes even extolled the mistakes of their opponent.

One of the most prominent changes in political campaigning has been the use of technology. When radio was invented, leaders used it as a medium to talk to people and this was followed by the television. Towards the end of the 19th century, Internet became a popular medium because more and more people started accessing them. Today, this is the most powerful medium of political campaigning because of the numerous viewers. It is expected that social media and other advanced forms of communication is likely to take over in the future.

Another change was in terms of financing. In the early part of the 19th century, money for campaigning came from internal sources. The people who volunteered to hold important positions in the party contributed a certain percentage of their salary towards political campaigning. This slowly changed and brought in more and more external sources like businessmen, lobbyists and even ardent supporters of a party.

Elections and the voting process

There are three different kinds of elections that take place in the U.S. The first election is that of the President and he or she is elected indirectly through the electoral college. The citizens of each state vote for their elected representative who can belong to the republican or the democratic party. These elected representatives form the electoral college and they elect the President and Vice-President of the country. Each state has a certain number of electoral seats that is equal to the number of representatives and senators in the Congress. In general, the most popular states have more seats and the number of seats in the Congress is determined by the U.S. census. The number of seats won by the candidates representing either party is calculated and the winner takes all the seats of the state. So, for example in a state that has 21 seats, if the democrats win 11 seats and the republicans win 10 seats, then the democrats get all the 21 seats. So, the winning candidate represents the total number of seats in the state and he or she can elect the President and the Vice-president on behalf of the people of the state. A candidate should get 270 seats or votes from the electoral college to become the President.

The second kind of election is the state election that is used to elect the Governor and the state legislature. Also, the local or county elections help to identify the county representative like mayors, sheriffs and city school board members and this is the third form of election. These elections are held as the same day as the Presidential election as a matter of convenience.

Every citizen of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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