What are the roles and functions of a political party?
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A question like this could be answered in a number of different ways. It would be a good idea to check your textbook to see exactly how it defines the roles and functions of political parties. Different books and different teachers can list these somewhat differently. One way to answer this is to say that political parties:
- Ensure that elected officials are responsive and accountable. If we simply elected a bunch of individuals to Congress, we would not know whom to blame when things go badly. With political parties, we know which party is in power and we can generally blame them and hold them accountable if we do not like how things are going in the country.
- Create broad coalitions. Political parties try to get large coalitions together so they can win elections. Therefore, they are good for us because they bring more people together in common causes.
- Get people more interested in politics. Parties will try to get more people interested in politics so that those people will vote for them. Once people identify with a party, they will also pay more attention because they will have a side that they prefer and they will want their side to win.
- Help people understand politics. There are so many issues that are important in our political system. It is much easier to deal with all of those issues if you know that you generally agree with one party or the other. That means you don’t have to try to understand every single issue perfectly.
- Make government work. The House of Representatives has 435 members. Without political parties, they would be unorganized and it would be very hard to get them to agree on anything. Parties organize them and make it easier for government to get things done.
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