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Why do we have political parties? What purpose do they serve? Have they outlived their...

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lashsh | Student, College Freshman | Honors

Posted February 4, 2010 at 9:04 PM via web

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Why do we have political parties? What purpose do they serve? Have they outlived their usefulness? How are they involved in the elections process?

Serious answers only please!

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 4, 2010 at 9:14 PM (Answer #2)

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To me, the major reasons that we still need political parties are as follows:

  • They are needed for organizing things in Congress, especially.  If there were no political parties, how would Congress be organized?  Who would appoint the committees?  Who would try to set an agenda?  It would be chaos.
  • They are useful for the electoral process.  The two parties serve as a pretty good way of getting like-minded people together.  If they were not there, it would be much harder to identify good candidates, get them to run for office, support them, etc.
  • They serve as an opposing factor to the interest groups.  If it were not for parties, the interest groups would be unopposed.  The parties try to pull people together in broad coalitions.  The interest groups try to pull them apart on single issues.
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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 5, 2010 at 5:49 AM (Answer #3)

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Political parties were originally designed to give voice to a group of people's interests.  The notion of collectivizing individual interests into one faction of strength would help to ensure that those preferences and beliefs are not discarded in the democratic process.  In the final analysis, it might be a bit on the illogical side to suggest that they have no use.  The two primary political parties in the American system of government play an extremely important role in determining the legislation that government passes and the course that it shall run.  It seems that that the two political parties are so very strongly embedded in our political discourse that their reality is almost undeniable as they possess economic and intellectual capital which nearly every candidate for political office requires in order to mount a serious bid for electoral consideration.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:43 PM (Answer #4)

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Political parties evolve because the like minded wish to have representation.  The Constitution correctly states nothing of how parties should be organized, leaving that process to the people to define for themselves. Having all political parties present their candidates and policies for public analysis allows voters to have the maximum amount of choice to determine which candidate most closely matches a voter's dispositions.  Sadly, this is now not the case -- bylaws in Congress have tilted the field in favor of the two traditional established parties; any third party has an onerous task to even field a candidate and is forced to adhere to restrictions that the major parties do not.  In disallowing true opposition, or even disallowing different viewpoints, the major parties have sown the seeds of their own destruction over the long term.  Part of the reason Congress is politically paralyzed is because its activities are centered around "party" politics, with representatives not truly addressing the needs of their constituents.   The major parties may come to find out soon that they have outlived their usefulness as people grow increasingly weary of the timeworn, ineffective and irrelevant arguments of Demipublicans and Republicrats; political parties must adapt or die, and let new parties emerge that more closely and truly reflect the candidates and constituents they represent.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 8, 2010 at 12:11 AM (Answer #5)

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Political parties are association of people formed for the specific purpose of influencing the way a countries is governed. Generally a political party controls or seeks to control a government, and in democratic countries political parties compete against one another for control of government. However, in many cases the political party may, at least in short term, only seek to influence the attitudes, and behavior of people to achieve specific political goals such as independence for a country.

Political parties are absolutely necessary for democratic system of government. political parties facilitate involvement of the people in government in various ways. First of all inform the people about various issues affecting the governance of the country. Then they help to identify suitable people to represent the people. They also formulate policies to govern the countries. When elected to form the government they help to implement these policies, and when in opposition they keep a check over activities of government in power to prevent acts against interest of people. Finally they mobilize funds and other resources for conducting all these activities.

In countries that have two or more political parties, each party selects its candidates for various posts to be filled by elected candidates. The people then cast their votes in favour of candidates of their choice. Among the various candidates contesting for a post, one that wins a specified proportion of votes is then appointed for the post.

Such election are held periodically so that people have the option to evaluate the performance of elected members and parties from time to time and change their choice for voting. In an election the political part or a coalition of parties having maximum number of its party members elected to a governing body such as parliament then forms the government, while all other parties form the opposition.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 26, 2010 at 10:39 PM (Answer #6)

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Originally our political party system was to protect against many different interests splintering off into small, squabbling groups.  Washington called this the "danger of faction".  Remember that at the time our Constitution was being ratified, the French Revolution was going on, and it terrified the Federalists in the United States.  They feared mob rule, and they thought political parties could unite enough of those factions to protect against something similar happening here.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM (Answer #7)

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I think that we have come to a point where political parties are damaging the democratic system. James Madison wrote about this in his Federalist Paper on factions. He was afraid factions would freeze the government. Recently, the United States lost its AAA credit rating, citing a dysfunctional government.

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