The American Two Party Political System Essay — страница 2

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with great political strength. The Democrats were seen as the party of slavery and secession. Republican control of the national government lasted for 72 years except for the 16 years when Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson were in the White House. The Great Depression of the 1930s had a powerful influence on American politics. The economic disaster helped Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, get elected as President in 1932. His first administration developed what has been called the New Deal coalition. Because of the New Deal social programs, millions of Americans were attracted to the Democratic Party. Blacks, whose loyalty had been with the Republicans since the days of Lincoln, shifted their support to the Democratic Party. In spite of the upheavals caused by slavery, the

Civil War, and the Depression, the Democrats and the Republicans remained the two major parties. This Democratic Party continued to dominate the Presidency for seven years after Roosevelt’s death and, except for two sessions in 1947-48 and 1953-54 the Democrats controlled Congress through 1980. The New Deal coalition diminished, but did not destroy Republican power. Beginning with the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, the Republicans regained much of the public loyalty that was lost during the New Deal years. In 1980, Ronald Reagan, the Republican nominee was elected President. The American two party system is unique from other two party systems. In Britain, for example, elections are held for members of Parliament. After the election, the leader of the winning party is

named Prime Minister. This individual serves both in Parliament as a legislator and in the Cabinet as an executive and policy maker. This cannot happen in the United States because of the constitutional separation of powers. A President cannot serve in Congress while in office. It is therefore possible for the Presidency and the Congress to be controlled by different parties, a situation that cannot occur in Britain. This control of the Congress by one party and the Presidency by another has generally been the case since World War II. The disadvantage of the American system is the deadlock that can develop between the President and the Congress over policy when each under the control of a different party. The Democratic and Republican parties in the United States are unlike

parties elsewhere in the world. It is because our party system is very decentralized in structure and does not contain rigid discipline and hierarchy. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that the United States does not have two parties but 100, two in each state. The parties among themselves are very diverse and their agendas vary from state to state. At the base of each party are those loyal to their party, that is those who regularly vote for their party candidates. The next level consists of local party officials. These officials choose the party’s state officers. Each state organization then names their states party representatives to a national committee. An executive committee is then selected from the members of the national committee. The national committee is

headed by the national chairman, who is chosen by the party’s nominee for President, but must be approved by the national committee. Elected officials from the local to the national level exert considerable influence on the operations of local, state, and national party machinery. In spite of the political domination of Democrats and Republicans, there have been several other party movements. Third parties have never succeeded in winning the Presidency or the control of Congress. There are several reasons why third parties have difficulties in building a strong following and getting elected. The most obvious is the strong hold of the other two. As a rule people resist change, and the positions the third parties advocate are usually later adopted by one or both of the major

parties. The larger two parties have become a melting pot of ideas and trends. They have done this to reinforce their strength, and build support. The legal obstacles in getting a name on the ballot also adds to difficulties. In most states it is required to have a significant percentage of the registered voter?s signatures, well in advance of the election, to get a candidate on the ballot. With the winner take all philosophy that most states have adopted for the Electoral College, it is virtually impossible to get even one of the state?s electoral votes for a presidential candidate. Even if a third party candidate was to get the popular vote in a few districts, all the electoral votes for that state will go to the candidate that won the most precincts or districts. The election