During the nation’s founding, parties were widely considered to be dangerous to good government and public order, especially in republics. In such an intellectual climate, no self-respecting leader would openly set out to organize a political party. The pervasive fear of parties reflected both historical experience and widely held eighteenth-century beliefs. People in authority saw themselves as agents acting on behalf of the whole community; any organized opposition was therefore misguided at best, treasonous at worst. Accepting the same perspective, rivals justified their opposition by imagining that those in power were betrayers of the community’s trust. When the leaders of the new government took the steps that led to the creation of the first political parties. When the leaders of the new government took the steps that led to the creation of the first political parties, they did not expect or want party competition to become a permanent feature of American politics. Rather, their aim was to have the common good-their version, naturally-prevail and their opponents consigned to oblivion. The first parties were created as temporary expedients.
• Are parties included in the Constitution?
The Constitution contains no mention of political parties. During the nation’s founding, parties were widely considered to be dangerous to good government and public order, especially in republics. In such an intellectual climate, no self-respecting leader would openly set out to organize a political party.
• What are some incentives for building political parties? Why are they important?
The political incentives that spawned parties are transparent. In any ...
... middle of paper ...
...ticos who depended on them, one way or another, for their livelihood. That dependence ended in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, when reforms largely destroyed the patronage-based party organizations. Today, full-time activists are mainly amateurs who volunteer their time.
• Why do third parties not like a system that gives only the top vote getter the office?
Third-party and independent candidates have a hard time with the winner-take-all electoral system. Even with considerable popular backing, these candidates may get few votes if their supporters believe they cannot win and vote instead for one of the major-party candidates. In the end, then, only those third parties (or independent candidates) that manage to supplant one of the two reigning parties as a viable option in voters’ minds gain rather than lose support from strategic voters.
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