United States Government and Politics Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

evolution of political parties from the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans to the political parties that exist today.

The binary differences between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans led to the formation of the first political parties in the United States, and essentially created the norm for a two-party system. Even as the names and ideological platforms of American political parties changed over time, a two-party system has persisted and continues to characterize American politics.

The early Federalists stood for a strong central government to create a more unified system of governance and economics, and also to create more consistency in law, politics, and finance. On the other hand, the earliest Republicans favored states' rights and mistrusted a strong centralized government. By the early 19th century, though, the Federalists and Republicans fell apart. Two new political parties emerged: the Democrats and the Whigs. The Whigs assumed many of the political platforms that the Federalists once held, such as favoritism for a strong central government. The Democratic party of the middle of the 19th century favored states' rights.

As abolitionism became a major political issue in the 19th century, a radical transformation of American political parties ensued. The Democrats continued to espouse a states' rights vision of slavery being permitted according to each state's sovereign law. Opposing the rights of states to allow slavery, the Republican party under leaders like Abraham Lincoln became increasingly interested in a stronger anti-slavery platform.

The early 20th century witnessed further transformations in American politics. A new Progressive Party promoted labor rights and civil rights in general. Republicans became more closely associated with capitalism as a core platform. The Democrats, once the pro-slavery party, had morphed into a more populist party concerned with social welfare under the leadership of FDR. Since FDR and particularly after the Reagan administration, the Democrats have retained a stronger interest in social justice and civil rights, with the Republicans becoming the party most opposed to social change or socio-economic justice.

2. Discuss the structure and role of party organizations. Mention each level of party organization -- local, state, and national -- including what the function is of each in modern politics.

Party organizations function on local, state, and national levels. At the local level, political parties are less formal than they are at the state and federal levels. However, at none of these levels are American political parties highly structured. Political parties…

Sources Used in Document:


Patterson, T. (2013). The American Democracy. 11th Edition. McGraw-Hill.

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