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Political Parties and the Electoral Process, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Differing Ideologies

The ideological differences between the two major party platforms in the United States, being the Democratic and Republican Party platforms, are often striking, especially related to the economy, job growth, social issues, corporate influence, and disability and human rights. For example, the Democratic platform concerning the influence of corporations states declares that the current American political system “is under assault by those who believe that special interests should be able to buy whatever they want in our society” via specific decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court which has “welcomed the new flow of special interest money with open arms;” in contrast, the Republican platform states that like individual voters, corporations have the right to “devote one’s resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports” and that

“We oppose any restrictions or conditions that would discourage Americans from exercising their constitutional right to enter the political fray or limit their commitment to their ideals” (Issues That Matter: A Comparison of the Democratic and Republican Party Platforms, 2012, pp. 1-2).

However, when it comes to disability rights, both platforms agree that “No one should face discrimination based on disability status” and that the Democratic Party “will continue to lead efforts to facilitate the access of Americans with disabilities” related to employment opportunities and leading a productive lifestyle;” likewise, the Republican platform declares that “In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on disability (as) unacceptable and immoral” while also supporting all anti-discrimination statutes,” laws and regulations set up by the U.S. federal government (Issues That Matter: A Comparison of the Democratic and Republican Party Platforms, 2012, p. 2).

In addition, the Democratic and Republican platforms share almost the same ideologies in relation to human rights. For instance, the Democratic platform declares that all human beings have basic rights when it comes to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, even for individuals that have been deemed as terrorists. It also avows that since “gay rights are human rights, the President and his administration have vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct or ignore abuse.” However, the Republican platform does not even mention gay rights but in a roundabout way agrees to “advance the rights of persecuted peoples” (Issues That Matter: A Comparison of the Democratic and Republican Party Platforms, 2012, p. 3).

Third Parties

Over the course of the history of the United States, numerous so-called third parties have attempted to break the deadlock at the Presidential level, meaning that despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in campaigns in get a third-party candidate elected as President, all have failed miserably. Exactly why these third-party candidates have failed to achieve success is complex, but according to Kevin Liptak of CNN, the main stumbling block is the “inability to coalesce around a candidate” which indicates the “difficulty of breaking into a system heavily weighted to favor Republican and Democratic politicians,” not to mention the problems associated with “attracting mainstream candidates that are willing to forgo” the two traditional parties for an independent run as President (2012).

As Liptak points out, there are several major reasons why a third-party Presidential candidate has never won the office of the President. First of all, candidates that are not supported by a major political party “face challenges like not being allowed to appear in presidential debates” and “convincing a skeptical media that their candidacies are serious.” Also, the problems linked to qualifying at the state level via ballots “can be expensive and require hundreds of thousands of petition signatures” (2012). Secondly, there is the lack of name recognition, especially when the candidate is not well-known throughout the U.S. and has only been politically successful in his/her state or district (Liptak, 2012).

The Campaign Process and the Two-Party System

It would appear that the current campaign process leans heavily toward the two-party system for several important reasons. First, every candidate that wishes to run for the U.S. Presidency must have support from a strong political organization via the endorsement of a major political party which today is either Democratic or Republican. A good example is Barack Obama’s endorsement by the Democratic Party which led to his election as President (Parties and Candidates in the Electoral Process, 2013). Secondly, major political parties possess many advantages related to raising funds for their endorsed candidates, such as from “private donors, political action committees, 527 groups, and the Internet.” This would include funds for advertising, conducting public polls, doing market research, staff employment, and maintaining a headquarters (Parties and Political Campaigns: Citizens and the Electoral Process, 2009). One good example is the immense funding that went into electing Bill Clinton over his rival George Bush, Sr. in the early 1990’s. Therefore, a candidate for the Presidency must be endorsed by a major political party with the means to raise huge amounts of capital that is then utilized throughout the candidate’s Presidential campaign.

References

Issues that matter: A comparison of the Democratic and Republican Party platforms. (2012). Retrieved from http://afjactioncampaign.org/wp- content/uploads/2012/09/Party-Platform-Comparison.pdf

Liptak, K. (2012). Fatally flawed: Why third parties still fail despite voter anger. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/21/politics/third-party-fail

Parties and candidates in the electoral process. (2013). Retrieved from http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/pc/pcc/onePage

Parties and political campaigns: Citizens and the electoral process. (2009). Retrieved from http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072965479/student_view0/chapter9

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