What are the major functions of the major parties in the United States?

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Different textbooks will give slightly different answers to this so you might want to check in your text to see if there is a specific answer you are expected to give.  In general, political scientists say that the functions of parties are to:

  • Make government work.  If the members of Congress, for example, were not joined together in political parties with leaders and such, imagine how much trouble they would have ever agreeing on anything or how much trouble they would have even getting organized.
  • Help make politics simpler for the people.  There is so much going on in the world that it is hard to keep up on everything and to know what to think about everything.  When it comes to election time, it is hard to know what each candidate thinks about each issue.  Having parties makes things simpler.  We might know that we are Democrats or Republicans and that allows us to know more or less who we will agree with when new issues come up or when there is an election.
  • Get people interested in politics.  Because the parties want to win, they are constantly trying to get more people to vote for them or to agree with them on the issues.  When they contact us through the mail or by phone or when they air ads on TV, they can increase the amount of interest we have in politics.  That is a good thing for a democracy.
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