What is the role of political parties in policy formulation?  

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Political parties exist for the purpose of promoting the shared policy positions of their candidates and voting constituencies. When we talk about conservative vs. liberal policies, we are, in a very general way, talking about how the government should pursue its goals. Liberals generally believe that the government should intervene to help solve society's problems, while conservatives prefer to let the free market increase economic opportunity, which, theoretically, helps improve peoples' lives through their own efforts.

In order for the parties to actually put their policy objectives into practice, they have to gain enough political power, usually by gaining electoral office in Congress and/or the White House. Health care is a good example of how this works. When Barack Obama took office in 2008, one of his main goals was to establish a...

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