A political party is a group of people who share the same beliefs and common goals that come together and exercise their right to vote for people who will represent them in government

A political party is a group of people who share the same beliefs and common goals that come together and exercise their right to vote for people who will represent them in government. The goal of a political party is to hold the majority in Congress and to win as many elections as possible. All parties develop an ideology that will set up their agenda and how they will achieve their goals. Political parties influence the people by getting their members elected at either the local, state, or national level. Political parties are responsible for gathering citizens, interest groups, and the media to gain information and inform the public of government actions. Political parties are engaged significantly in the lives of all citizens in the United States by determining policy such as healthcare, education, and immigration. Political parties play a critical role in every country; their existence allows people to be able to link candidates to the policies and values they support. Political parties are a standard that can measure a country’s political freedom.
The first two political parties to surface in America were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. During the founding period of the United States, some citizens wanted a strong centralized government that had the power to carryout numerous policies. Businessmen, bankers, and merchants supported the Federalists, they believed in a strong national government and that capital and industry were the basics of a healthy republic. These two political parties were formed because when George Washington took office, Thomas Jefferson believed that the small farmers were not being represented fairly and therefore created the Anti-Federalists which later became knows as the Democratic-Republicans. The Democratic-Republicans believed that government should be limited and most power should go to the state and local governments and should be out of the citizens’ everyday life. Having power at the state and local level instead of the federal level can be seen as positive because it brings the people of those regions closer to their government which ultimately gives them more control over their elected officials and gives the elected officials more responsibility. This established the two party system of America that is still used today; the United States is one of the most distinctive two-party systems in the world. According to Pearson Revel, “… the split between the two major parties is sharp and meaningful, and there is a vast gap between the views of Democratic and Republican voters on issues like health care, abortion rights, and immigration (by contrast, the parties are much less polarized, and indeed are internally divided, on issues like free trade and foreign policy” (Differences Between the Major Parties). This quote illustrates how different the parties used to be compared to now: citizens used to be debating on whether African Americans should have basic rights and freedoms and now were debating universal healthcare. This can be seen as progress for the United States although still containing many flaws within the nation.
Today, the Democratic-Republicans are now known as Democrats and this is due to Andrew Jackson altering the name when he was elected to be President in 1828. Jackson drew support from the Southern and Western states and opposition from others. Although elected to be President, an opposition party against Jackson formed called the Whig Party. A few years after Andrew Jackson came Franklin Pierce, a Democrat who saw the abolitionist movement as a threat to the nation was elected to the Presidency. Pierce demonstrated his favor for slavery by enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. By displaying his favoritism for slavery, Franklin Pierce unknowingly was dividing a nation farther apart towards both ends of the political spectrum, which ultimately altered the political parties. As slavery was debated it was able to overshadow any previous debates or policies that were before Congress. The debate on slavery was able to tear people away from their initial party and into new ones. During this time of turmoil in the United States it is clear why people were changing political parties: this had to do with peoples freedom and basic human rights. In 1854 groups of northern men against slavery urged the creation of a new political party opposed to the continuation of slavery, known as modern day Republicans. Pierce failed to reunited the North and the South setting up the Civil War. After the debate of slavery and the defeat of the South in the Civil War, the two parties were not extremely indifferent until the Great Depression.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, elected in 1932 introduced the New Deal. The New Deal provided programs that issued economic relief measures, social security, laws helping unions, and other bills that the Democrats applauded. On the other hand, Republicans despised the New Deal stating that the United States was becoming a welfare state. Republicans are a big believer in the free market and believe that the government should have a limited role in their lives.
The Democrats and Republicans have alternated in power mainly because they have put forward candidates and policies that appeal to most Americans but third parties have also played a role in American politics. Victoria Woodhull, making history, became the first woman to run for president, she was from the Populist party and drew support from laborers and farmers. Another third party is the Bull Moose Party, the party that Theodore Wilson ran for but ultimately lost to Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. The Bull Moose Party was known for being progressive and opposing big business and expressed the interest of small farmers and laborers known as blue-collar workers. The Southern Democrats created the Dixiecrat party to oppose giving basic rights to African Americans. Along side the Dixiecrat Party was the American Independent Party who also apposed African American rights and racial integration. The Libertarian Party formed in the 1970s to emphasize individual rights of the people. The most prominent third party and one that is still relevant today is the Green Party. The Green Party was created to make the needs and rights of the environment a priority. It is important to have other parties included in politics because not every person will agree on the major parties and it gives the people another option on an elected official that will express their wants and needs.
The way in which citizens elect their officials have had a say on which person is elected to that office which is often done by a direct primary but there can be special exceptions such as the Electoral College. Electing officials to office happens in three different steps: candidate selection, nomination, and election. Candidate selection is the most important step of this process because it narrows down the possible candidates out of many that are eligible and is done by the political party. After, the vote goes to the people for the direct primaries. This shift in power from the high-ranking officials to the people gives the people a bigger role in government. The Electoral College is an exception to the direct primary and popular vote practice in the United States. The Electoral College is comprised of members from each state in numbers equal to their Congressional representation who get together and usually vote for who wins the popular vote in their home state. This can cause confusion and misrepresentation because it is not required in some states for the members in the Electoral College to vote for their states popular vote, which can lead to distrust in the government.
During the beginning years of the United States most people were not allowed to vote. The requirements to vote in the United States were an individual had to be male, white, and own land. This requirement made it difficult for minority voices to be heard, “Also growing during the nineteenth century was the size of the electorate eligible to vote in America. After the revolution, states imposed various requirements that white men had to own property or hold wealth to vote, every state barred women from taking part in most elections, and only a few Northern states granted the franchise to African Americans” (Differences Between the Major Parties). Putting requirements on voting limits the voices heard in the government and will only end up benefitting wealthy white males. Today, everyone that is a citizen of the United States and is above the age eighteen is eligible to vote no matter race, gender or sexual identification. Allowing everyone to vote and have their vote count is the best electoral system that can be implemented because it ensures that everyone can have a say in who is representing them in government.
Political parties are important because they allow the people of a nation to come together and express their views to the government. Without political parties power can easily be shifted and steered away from the people. Political parties also allow for many voices to be heard and not just those that are convenient for the government to hear.