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Old Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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Ahmed Ali Shah Ahmed Ali Shah is offline
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Default political parties









Political parties are group of people more or less organized, working as units and by using their political power aim at controlling the government and carrying out their policies.

Political parties and democracy go hand in hand, as an elected government is essentially party government. Political parties render a very useful service to the cause of democracy. They formulate level and organize public opinion by offering viable solutions to social, economic and political problems faced by the masses. They participate in elections and establish link between the government and people by winning or loosing the elections.

The founding fathers of the constitution were afraid of the masses and political party system. Therefore, they did not include any provisions regarding the political parties. They framed the constitution as a safeguard against the political party system by introducing Presidential system of government in order to keep the influence of political parties and masses away from the executive. However, the political parties still prevailed and grew strong. Now the political parties in U.S dominate the entire political arena by changing spirit of the constitution. The indirect election of the President has today become direct due to the presence of political parties.

It is very difficult to draw a line of differentiation between the office of the President and majority party in Congress. The President makes numerous appointments with the consultation of leaders of his party in Congress, in order to get approval by Senate.

The influence of the political parties over government does not end with the fact that President has to consult his party leaders even at the lower level. It is the party machinery, which selects candidates for various elections, operates election-campaign and brings voter to the polling stations. It is the party platform which creates public opinion in its favor.

Hence, we can say that even though the constitution vests executive power in the President and has freed him from the accountability of the Congress; on non-constitutional and indirect basis he is accountable to congress, especially to the members of his party. If he fails to satisfy party members, especially those in Congress, his approval ratings, chances of 2nd term (if he is in his 1st term) and his survival is in jeopardy.


The founding fathers of the American constitution considered political parties as detrimental to the national unity, yet the parties emerged with the promulgation of the constitution on the issue of strong Federal Government verses State Rights. Since than a two political system has emerged in American politics.

The Philadelphia convention of 1787 had split the political leaders into two major groups – one representing the large states and favoring a strong national government known as Federalists, and other anxious to preserve state autonomy known as anti-federalists. The Federalists were led by Alexander Hamilton and the anti-federalists were led by Thomas Jefferson. From 1796 to 1800, it was Federalist Party that remained in power. In 1800, however it was Thomas Jefferson, leading the anti-federalists, who was elected as President.

Later on the names of the two parties were changed. The Federalist came to be known as “Whigs” and the Anti-Federalists combined under the designation of “Democratic-Republican Party.”


At the birth of America and formation of its constitution, the Federalists were very influential party. After George Washington’s presidency ended, it was a John Adams under the affiliation of Federalists who took the American Presidency. From 1800 to 1840, the Federalists lost Presidency to Anti-Federalists which appeared under the party name of Democratic-Republicans and later became Democrats. The Federalists took Presidency again in 1840, but under the new party name known as “Whig.” W.H. Harrison was the 1st Whig President to be elected than. In 1948, Z. Taylor won Presidency for Whigs. He would be the last Whig member to be ever elected as President. After that Federalist or Whig party ceased to exist. Many of its members and elements transferred to Republicans.


The Democratic - Republican Party held office from 1800 to 1824. The party name was however changed to Democratic Party, dropping the ‘Republican’ in 1828, since than the party has been known by the same name, even today. It supported the interests of States against the Federal Government and had its roots in agriculturists and planters. Since those who owned lands, usually owned slaves as workers, the Democratic Party upheld the slavery system. This support became one of the major reasons for the American Civil War. By the end of the civil war, the party had lost the control and influence over the masses. The party made a come back under Wilson in 1913 and remained in power till 1921. From 1921 the party took place in opposition for 12 years. They again came back to power in 1933 under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, who held Presidential office for four terms. (F.D. Roosevelt is the only President to hold the office for more than two terms; he was cousin to Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, who was also a President of United States but on the Republican Party’s affiliation). After the death of F.D. Roosevelt in the middle of WW-II his vice President, H.S. Truman, continued his remaining term as President. In the next general election H.S. Truman won the Presidency under the affiliation of Democratic Party. After H.S. Truman the party lost the Presidency to Republicans. The party was again voted to power in 1960 and J.F. Kennedy took the Presidency. After the assassination of J.F Kennedy, his vice President Lyndon B. Johnson continued his remaining presidential term under the affiliation of Democratic Party. After Kennedy and Johnson, only two democrats reappeared on Presidential seat. In 1976, J.E. Carter became President, while in 1992 and again in 1996 W.J. Clinton took the designation of American President.


Unlike Democratic Party, Republicans did not arise through evolution. Many people think that Republicans evolved from the Federalists or the “Whigs.” However, that is not the case. It was a third party founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1854 and replaced the Federalists or Whigs from the American political scene. Lincoln became 16th President of USA and boosted the prestige of Republican Party to great extent. He pledged to abolish the slavery in America. By the end of Civil War, the Republicans were thoroughly entrenched in U.S politics. The Republican Party dominated the American political system for next 60 years, solely as preserver of union. From 1932-33 Democratic faces held more influence. However, in 1952 to 1960, Republican Party took over the Presidency again, under the leadership of former military General, D.D Eisenhower, who led America to victory in WW-II. But the office was immediately lost in the next general election to the Democrats as J.F.K became President. But in 1968 and 1972 Richard Nixon won Presidency under Republican affiliation. The 1980s whole decade was dominated by the Republicans as in 1980 and 1984; R.W. Reagan won Presidency as a Republican followed by his Vice-President George Bush who took Presidency in 1988 to 1992. Again, after a gap of 8 years, George Bush’s son G.W. Bush took American Presidency twice in 2000 and 2004.


The only member to win American Presidency as an independent candidate was George Washington. He took Presidency in 1789 and again in 1792, both times unopposed. Thus he became the 1st as well as 2nd President of USA. He refused the offer of 3rd term in the office. Although independent, he is believed to be more leaning towards the Federalists. After his stepping down, his vice President John Adams became affiliated with Federalists and won the Presidency.


Following are the main features of American political party system:

1. Two Party System
2. No different Ideological Basis
3. Not Identical
4. Decentralized Parties
5. Regionalism
6. Spoil System


Although it is not some sort of a law in U.S to only have two parties, yet strong two party systems has emerged since the creation of American Federation. Almost all the Presidential elections has witnessed clash between the candidates of Republican Party and the Democratic Party, hence the political power has either remain in hands of Republicans or Democrats.

Some minor parties also emerged in US, but could not put any impact upon American votes. No small party member has ever taken a seat in the White House.


Both Democratic and Republican party have no different ideological basis, they just adjust their policies to current circumstances. They cannot be classified as ‘Right and/or ‘Left’ and ‘Conservative and/or Progressive’. They both are conservative and progressive having no fundamental doctrinal differences. The core program and policies of both parties are usually similar and identical. During cold war both parties stood against communist ideologies to protect their capitalist ideology and they still continue to do so. Their foreign policies also don’t differ much either.

In recent years Democratic Party seems to have adopted more liberal attitude than Republicans. However, the chances of this liberal attitude to turn into a policy, when democrats take power, are grim.


In spite of there being no difference in their ideologies and organization, both parties are not identical. Political leaders of respective parties make policy statements which differ from each other in general.

With regard of Internal policies, the Republican are usually said to be the moral conservative and stand for; decentralization, State’s rights, interests of farmers and no-State interference in the economic life of nation. On the other hand, Democrats emphasize upon a strong Federal Government, Pro-Labour policies, Welfare of State, and no-discrimination against the Negroes.

With regard of Foreign Policy, the Republicans stand for isolation; while Democrats stand for internationalism.


The main job of political parties in American is to choose candidates for Presidency, to campaign for their respective candidates and stimulate the public interest in governmental affairs. The national committee exercises very little disciplinary control over their members. Although, both the parties are formed of people with varying attitudes and interests, yet the party discipline is not rigid and is decentralized.


Both the parties of America believe in regionalism and are dominated by the local bosses. The local leaders decide on who will get the party tickets in the elections. They finance the party machine in their States or areas. There is very little central control upon local units of these parties. All the local party units are controlled by local leaders. There are States which are completely under the control of either Democratic or Republican Party. They are further distinguished by the economic interests that dominate them. The industrial and commercial sectors are with Republicans, while the planters and farmers always support the Democrats.


Both parties believe strongly in the spoil system. When one party comes to power, it dismisses all the employees appointed by the previous party and replaces them with their own.


The party organization has two distinct parts; the Permanent Organization and the Periodic Organization. Both forms of organizations are further divided into various forms of committees and convention. They can be explained as followed:


The permanent party organization includes the following tiers:--


At the apex of each party stands its National Committee, which consists of about 100 members. It has a chairman nominated by the Presidential candidate and elected by the committee. He becomes the campaign manager and directs national head quarters. He is assisted by an Executive Committee and Campaign Committee to conduct the election campaign. When the party wins the election, the chairman usually becomes the post-master general in the Presidential Cabinet.


A senatorial campaign committee and a congressional campaign committee are maintained by each party to direct the election campaign of respective party to direct the election campaign of respective house.

The campaign committee functions chiefly during campaign, trying to maintain and increase the seats held by the respective parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each committee has a small number of permanent staff. The committees compile the voting records of sitting members analyze political possibilities in the various states and districts and prepare it self for elections of both houses.


Each party has a central committee in each state; which direct the campaigns for states officers and senator-ship and mobilizes state effort. The state committeemen are chosen by election or by nomination representing the legislative districts and sub-divisions. Its membership varies from State to State.

Most State committees are not assigned with significant powers regarding the convention or primary nomination, but they delegate powers and duties to an executive group which makes the effective decisions. Some State committees have authority to fill vacancies occurring after convention.

Some times the chairmen of the State Committee are political figures of importance, more commonly they are stronger men of their respective groups.


Each county has separate committee of each party; which coordinate the work of all lesser bodies and deals in important matters with State Central Committees. There are over 3,000 counties; virtually all are organized by both parties.

Country Organization stands between state and local levels. They are setup in state senatorial representative, congressional, and state judicial districts. Their position varies from State to State and from urban to rural area, in their respective party’s structure.


The local organization is established in each precinct or polling district which is the basic units of the party organization. Its size is determined by the number of voters (from 100 to 500 voters are included in the average precinct). The chairman of the party precinct is responsible for party’s direct contacts with voters and provides his personal service to them.

In urban areas, ward committees are usually next level of organization. The committee coordinates the work of precinct units and deals with local political problems, especially with municipal-council politics. A city committee oversees the ward and precinct levels and attends to the municipal problems.

In village areas, village-committee brings together precinct representatives and plan party activities in relation to local governments.


The organization consists of nominating system for selecting candidates for public office by a party. At 1st convention system was adopted for selecting the candidates. This was criticized for its unrepresentative nature and corrupt practices. Thus the convention system was replaced by the direct selection method. However, the convention system has been retained for the nomination of Presidential Candidates by both the parties.

Some well known tiers of periodic organization are:


It is a method by which registered voters make nominations for the candidates for the forth-coming general elections. There are two methods of direct primary periodic organization:


In this, the voters may participate in nomination and he is allowed to decide in which party’s primary he wishes to vote irrespective of his affiliation with certain party.


In this each voter may participate, only in the nominations of candidates for the party, with which he is affiliated.


In spite of democratic nature of direct primary system, there are some serious draw backs of it. Example:

1. It undermines party loyalty and destroys party organization and unity.

2. A man may become the candidate of a party without subscribing to its principles and programs.

3. It is expensive system.

4. It suits only the urban areas, where the voters can easily assemble for polling but in the rural areas it is impracticable.

5. The party bosses have not yet been eliminated by the direct primary system.


The main function of this convention is to nominate candidates for presidency and vice-presidency; usually done by polling methods. If a candidate can not acquire the required number of votes in the 1st attempt, than a 2nd polling is held. In the vice-presidential contest, the presidential nominee can play important role, as he chooses his own running mate.


The senatorial committee is chosen by the senators; while the congressional campaign committees are chosen by the representatives of the party concerned. These committees work day and night to insure the victory of their candidates. They manage funds and speakers for their party.


A few minor parties also exist in USA and their numbers vary from time to time. These minor parties have no importance in the political arena of US. Many times it so happens that either these minor parties merge with major political parties or they vanish from the political scene of the country as they are not capable of facing the challenges posed by major political parties and players. Many minor parties usually come to existence for a certain purpose and issue and when the issue is resolved and their purpose is served, the ceased to exist. Once Prohibition Party existed, which advocated for the prohibition of the manufacture and import of liquors. There also used to be Socialist Labour Party. Today there is also a communist party, but has no voice in the legislature.

[COLOR="DarkRed"][B]17th amendment is mockery of our constitution !. May those who have implemented it burn in hell ![/B][/COLOR]
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