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Us Political Parties Notes

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US POLITICAL PARTIES The US has a two party system - due to their first-past-the-post electoral system

Democrats and Republicans

History of the two main parties The form of government At the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, the states were divided between two schools of thought - the Federalists wanted a more centralised form of government - and the AntiFederalists wanted a more decentralised form of government Federalists - party of George Washington and John Adams - represented the commercial and business districts of the new republic Anti-Federalists - party of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - represented the agricultural and land owning interests

Democracy The founding fathers established a modern form of democracy - the House of Representatives was to be directly elected by the people (the Senate indirectly elected)

Andrew Jackson renamed the Democrat-Republicans the Democrat Party to emphasise their democratic credentials

Slavery Originally the Democrat party was the party of the South and preached the virtues of slavery
- Dred Scott vs. Sandford ruled that slavery could not be limited to the southern states

Lincoln beat Douglas in 1860 election and the defeated southern states announced they were leaving the union and forming their own confederacy

The Civil War (1861-65) - fought by Lincoln's federal army form the north against the confederate army of the south

Defeat of the south was humiliating for the democrats - out of 12 elections between 1864 and 1908, democrats only won twice

For 100 years, people 'vote as they shot' and therefore the southern states was solidly democrat

The economy The Great Depression (1920s) did to the republicans what the civil war had done to the democrats

The republicans presided over a federal government and 'big business' when all the boom turned into bust

The desperately squalid camps of the unemployed were named 'Hoovervilles' after President Hoover

1932 Franklin Roosevelt - promised the 'New Deal' for the American people - alphabet agencies and other schemes to create employment and lift Americans out of the depression New Deal Coalition - 1930s to 1970s, made up of southern white workers, northern-eastern liberals, city dwellers, and blue-collar workers, Catholics, Jews and ethnic minorities (Republicans got support mainly from WASPs)

Civil Rights Brown v Board of Education, 1954 - Supreme Court ruling that segregated schooling was unconstitutional (against 14th amendment) - this decision ended the 100 years of the solid south and blew apart the New Deal Coalition

Democrats began to favour policies such as affirmative action and appointed judges who would make decisions in favour of such policies - represented racial minorities within America

Role of federal government President Ronald Reagan planned to hand back power to the states and curbs the power of the federal government

Reagan put an end to the era of big government - with Senate Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton

Party Support Democrat Party


Low income/Super rich


Ethnic minority

Urban dweller

Coastal areas


Republican Party





Rural dwellers

South (Bible-belt and Mid West)


Party Ideology Democrat

1. Liberal stance on many social issues - 'Guns, gays God'

Believe in pro-choice, therefore allow the law of abortion within America

Support gay marriage

Against the use of guns - want tighter gun control

Support stem cell research

2. Very supportive of environmental policies - 'Green' way of life and taxation of pollutants that are harming the environment

Renewable energy policies

3. Want government intervention in terms of welfare - 'Obamacare' and taxation of the rich to benefit the poor

4. Dovish foreign policy - very patriotic, supporting the 'American cause' and prepared to negotiate with foreign organisations

Obama proved himself to be not too dovish in his foreign policy with the finding and assassination of Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda

5. Softer line on immigration - believes in a 'path to citizenship' and wants to promote the rights of ethnic minorities within the US


1. Conservative stance on social issues - large religious faction within the party

Anti-abortion - believe in the right to life

Against same sex marriage - believe that it is against the Christian faith

Pro-guns - believe it is an infringement of liberties not to have guns

Against the use of stem cell research

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