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Explain why political parties are still important in American politics. What is the major role that political parties play in campaigns and congress?

Political parties remain important for several key reasons. They are the primary means by which people are elected to public office. They provide a framework through which Americans understand politics, and are the main organizing feature through which politics is conducted at the national and state levels.

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Parties politics are the central, even the defining, feature of American politics. The first role of the two main parties in American politics is to get candidates elected. Therefore, parties mobilize voters, raise money, and give their official seal of approval to the candidates they nominate for elected offices at...

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Parties politics are the central, even the defining, feature of American politics. The first role of the two main parties in American politics is to get candidates elected. Therefore, parties mobilize voters, raise money, and give their official seal of approval to the candidates they nominate for elected offices at the federal and state levels. It remains very difficult to get elected to federal office in particular without party alignment. In most states, candidates from the two major parties, along with (occasionally) a handful of smaller party candidates, appear on ballots. Moreover, elective districts in many states are drawn by the party in control of the state legislature, which makes party affiliation all the more important.

Aside from these factors, many Americans understand politics through the lens of political parties. This is especially true during times of intense ideological polarization, which almost always corresponds with partisanship. It is also true in spite of the fact that there is at least some significant ideological variance within each party, and despite the fact that many Americans take a very dim view (or indicate that they do in polls) of partisan politics. Party affiliation is one of the most important factors in determining who a voter will vote for. Beyond getting elected, parties also serve as the means by which legislation is accomplished—or not accomplished—in Congress and in state legislatures. The Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader are both very powerful individuals in that they represent their respective parties in each legislative body. In these roles, and under current procedural rules, they can determine what bills even come to the floor for debate. The position is particularly powerful in the Senate.

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