Thursday, October 7, 2010

Which Party Are You Going To?

In today's politics, many people decide to join a political party. A political party is defined as a political organization subscribing to a certain ideology or formed around very special issues with the aim to participate in power, usually by participating in elections. The United States has what is for all practical purposes a two-party system, with the two largest political parties dividing a great majority of the vote between themselves in most elections. This is partly a consequence of the first-past-the-post election system but is also due to restrictive ballot access laws imposed on the other political parties. There have been many political parties other than the two dominant ones, but most third parties are generally considered to be of only minor and short-lived political significance. Before even deciding to join a political party, it is important to know the history of the party you plan on joining.

Republican Party

The Republican Party (often GOP for Grand Old Party) is one of the two major political parties in the United States. Organized in Ripon, Wisconsin on February 28, 1854, as a party opposed to the expansion of slavery into new territories, it is not to be confused with the Democratic-Republican party of Thomas Jefferson or the National Republican Party of Henry Clay. The first convention of the U.S. Republican Party was held on July 6, 1854, in Jackson, Michigan. Many of its initial policies were inspired by the defunct Whig Party. Many of its early members came from the Free Soil Party and American Party. Since its inception, its chief opposition has been the Democratic Party.

John C. Frémont ran as the first Republican nominee for President in 1856, using the political slogan: "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Frémont." Although Frémont's bid was unsuccessful, the party grew especially rapidly in Northeastern and Midwestern states, where slavery had long been prohibited, culminating in a sweep of victories in the Northern states. The ensuing election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 ended the domination of the fragile coalition of pro-slavery southern Democrats and conciliatory northern Democrats which had existed since the days of Andrew Jackson. Instead, a new era of Republican dominance based in the industrial north ensued.

Democratic Party

Its origins lie in the original Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1794 (today, this party is usually referred to as the "Democratic-Republican Party" for the sake of convenience; but such usage is anachronistic). After the disintegration of the Federalist Party, the Republicans were the only major party in American politics. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson, however, destroyed the unity of the Party, with the Jacksonians forming the Democratic-Republican faction, opposed by the National Republicans, led by John Quincy Adams. The Jacksonian "Democratic-Republicans" soon became known as simply "Democrats." From 1833 to 1856, the Democratic Party was opposed chiefly by the Whig Party. From 1856 onward its main opposition has come from the modern Republican Party.

The Democratic Party was formed from the Andrew Jackson-led "Democratic-Republican" faction of the old Republican Party (now, referred to as the "Democratic-Republicans" for convenience). Following his defeat in the election of 1824 despite having a plurality of the popular vote, Jackson set about building a political coalition strong enough to defeat President John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828. The coalition that he built was the foundation of the subsequent Democratic Party.

So now that you know a little history and some basic information about our two major political parties, which party are you going to? Remember, there are numerous political parties in our nation, but the two above divide a great majority of votes between themselves in most elections. Do you have a political party you belong to? Shout out to us and share your thoughts and info on the party you belong to!

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