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POLI 360, Week 13

by: runnergal

POLI 360, Week 13 POLI 360 001


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These notes cover what was discussed in class during the week of 4/11/14.
American Political Parties
David C. Darmofal
Class Notes
political science, Government
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by runnergal on Thursday April 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 360 001 at University of South Carolina taught by David C. Darmofal in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 32 views. For similar materials see American Political Parties in Political Science at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 04/14/16
POLI 360 – Lecture 19  Parties in the Courts o Courts are viewed as above partisan conflicts and partisan politics; American  citizens feel judges make decisions based on facts and the Constitution alone. o Party affiliation, however, does shape judicial decisions. o Justices are often registered members of political parties. o In fact, some justices are elected to their positions, although those elections are  technically not partisan. o The President and Congress use parties as recruitment sources for judges. o Judges are often active in their respective parties. For example, Chief Justice  Rehnquist was a Republican poll watcher before he became a Supreme Court  judge. o Party organizations, however, do not shape judicial decisions; rather, it appears  that partisanship shapes decisions because Republicans and Democrats naturally  have different views about different issues. o Democratic justices tend to vote in favor of the government in tax cases and  business regulation; in favor of plaintiffs in workers’ compensation,  unemployment compensation, and automobile accident cases; and in favor of  defendants in criminal cases. Republican justices tend to vote the opposite way in  all of the examples stated above.  Responsible Parties o The founding fathers designed a governmental system with separation of powers  in order to decrease factions’ influence. o In contrast, the American Political Science Association’s Committee on Political  Parties found that some people would prefer more effective party government.  This committee was formed in the 1940s with the start of the Conservative Coalition.  It presented its findings in 1950 with a report titled “Toward a More  Responsive Two­Party System,” which promoted a move toward party  government with responsible parties that would allow more legislation to  get enacted. o Elements of Responsible Party Government 1. Parties develop specific statements of policies they pledge to carry out if  elected. 2. Parties nominate candidates loyal to the policies, and the candidates  commit to enacting those policies if elected. 3. Parties campaign for office on their policies, as opposed to a candidate’s  personal characteristics, in order to make observable distinctions to the  voters. 4. Parties hold officeholders responsible for those policies’ enactment. o Advantages of Responsible Parties 1. Increased Accountability: voters understand what the parties represent  and can hold them responsible if the policies that the parties propose are  not enacted. 2. Increased Effectiveness: Unified parties can govern more easily. o This definition of responsible parties favors policy enactments. o This responsible party model is closer to the parliamentary model. o Even if this model was enacted, the U.S. government would still need to  coordinate its actions across all three branches. Additionally, some positions  would still have staggered terms that are not governed by elections, and all  officeholders have different geographic constituencies; both of these  characteristics would create a lack of cohesiveness. o Essentially, this model would work best in a mass parties system, not the  American modified cadre party system. o Candidates still have incentives to create identities based on personal  characteristics that are separate from the party identity.  Ideology o The responsible party system implies favoring ideological parties, where parties  are easily distinguishable from each other. o All voters, however, are not ideological. o In fact, Converse (1964) found that U.S. citizens do not think of political parties  in ideological terms.  People do not think of ideological labels.  People have no ideological belief system that ties beliefs together across a  vast range of issues.  People’s preferences are not consistent with ideological labels.  Ideology in the U.S. Electorate o Later studies have shown that U.S. citizens are more ideological that previously  thought, especially as political parties have become more distinct from each other. o Generally, U.S. citizens are still less ideological than citizens in other countries;  this begs the question of whether U.S. citizens even want more responsible  parties. o Instead, it seems that U.S. citizens prefer moderate pragmatism (which focuses on policy results) than the responsible party model.  Other Ways to Strengthen Parties o The responsible party model is unlikely to work in the U.S. because there are too  many institutional and citizen­based obstacles. o Any changes that strengthen parties will have to occur with the approval of party  elites.  The Party Era of the 1800s o The late 1800s was a period of the greatest party strength in the U.S. with very  great voter turnout and slight split­ticket voting. o Parties’ connections with voters’ identities increased party strength. o Party identity was connected to religious identity.  Pietism vs. liturgists = Baptists and Methodists that focused on personal  purity were more likely to identify as Republican, while Catholics that  focused on church services (liturgy) were more likely to identify as  Democrats.  Democrats favored limited government; they did not want to use the  government to enforce moral codes, such as drinking. (Catholics did not  regard drinking as a moral sin.)  Republicans wanted to use the government to enforce moral codes; they  supported the temperance movement and Protestant prayers in public  schools. o The U.S. probably will not return to semi­religious party identification, especially  since U.S. citizens’ identities are comprised of more characteristics than pure  religious affiliation now.  Partisan Mobilization o Voter mobilization strengthened parties. o Party contacts increased voters’ attachments to parties. o Party mobilization has increased recently; this probably will increase party  distinguishability and voter identification with parties. o Partisan strength in government, organizations, and voters has increased recently  as well.


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