As in most countries, political parties of the United States are the citizens’ groups organized on the basis of specific mutual views on how the country should be ruled. The efforts of the party structures are intended to bring and support their candidates on the senior government posts. Political parties of the United States play an important role in the political system and the life of the country despite the fact that the Constitution does not specify their particular function. The history of the U.S. political system testifies a bilateral political influence of the Republic and Democratic parties. Problems in different spheres of the American society have been the catalysts of the ruling political parties losing their past power and influence.
Rationales of the Loss of Political Power
The loss of political influence and power by the political parties of the US was caused by their critical vision of the most crucial and actual problems of the American society. The Democratic Party has always had long disputes with the Republic Party. Their conflicts have interfered with the promotion of multiple reforms and making final decisions in collaboration with the President. Society’s expectations are not met, so the actions of political parties cause frustration and irritation, which reduces the level of voters’ confidence. The issue has nothing to do with democracy; instead, the weakening position of the parties is a result of such a performance.
The number of points, on which both parties have the same opinion, is much smaller than the common ground. Thus, the discrepancy between the parties’ views extends to the issues of the abortion restriction, legalization of gay marriage, universal health care, progressive taxation, possession of firearms, among some others. It should be noted that these parties are antagonistic in nature that is obvious at least in their composition and political convictions. The Democratic Party pursues liberalism and progressivism whereas the Republican Party is guided by conservatism and neo-conservatism as its upgraded form.
The Republicans are more likely to advocate lower taxes on businesses while the Democrats, as a rule, lobby for an increase in the taxes for the rich. In a more general context, the Republicans often act on the side of entrepreneurs while the Democrats are on the side of those who largely depend on social programs and other resources redistributed by the state. The Republicans create the conditions for the growth in the production of the power and national wealth of the country. Meanwhile, the Democrats are primarily concerned with the issues of the further distribution of this national wealth.
In terms of ideology, there are some considerable variations between the parties that are conditionally marked as the difference between the conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Almost all Liberals belong to the Democratic Party or actively cooperate with its activists. On the other hand, conservative Americans are much more likely to join the Republican Party or, at least, vote for its candidates. The Republicans hold conservative positions on the issues of marriage and family, as well as religious and other traditional values of the nation. The Democrats usually advocate the opposite viewpoints. The Liberals, as the most faithful activists of the Democratic Party, promote equal rights (including the related level of all formal procedures) of the same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. The Conservatives of the Republican Party do not agree with this approach; they offer alternative solutions. For example, the Republicans believe that in the case of the economic benefits of the propagation of the historically established state for a traditional family among same-sex couples, it would be possible to legalize the so-called partnership between the same-sex couples living together. The absolute majority of Christian believers vote for the Republicans while non-believers and atheists tend to favor the Democrats.
The recent war conflicts have revealed the difference in the views of the political parties and a number of mutual intrigues. The Republican administration has engaged in a military confrontation with the Islamic forces for several times; in some cases, such decisions were widely discussed and considered a wrong decision by the society. These issues have affected the Party’s reputation. On the other hand, the Democrats engaged in the settlement to the conflict with the Orthodox Serbs, taking the Muslim side. The Democratic administration dragged the US into the war in Vietnam and veered the Republican administration when they came to power and were not able to extinguish the Vietnam conflict quickly. Racial differences significantly influence the sentiments of the U.S. citizens. Most voters of the Republican Party are from the white population of the country. The Democratic Party generally gains, among others, about 90 percent of the Blacks’ votes and 80 percent of the American Jews’ votes.
The weakening power and influence of the political parties is caused by the fact that they replace each other from time-to-time, thus, protecting the interests of the ruling class. The regularity of conflicts and the negative effects of the each political party’s governance have weakened the faith of Americans in the belief that their country will not be involved in another conflict or plot. During election campaigns, there always is an outwardly showy political duel that is usually supported by both parties. The monopoly bourgeoisie controls and directs the activity of both parties through the official party apparatus. Nevertheless, due to the massive financial support, the Democrats decide on the existence of other parties that usually do not play any considerable political role for various reasons. Through the Democratic forces, the ruling classes seek to prevent the creation of the third influential party, which would be the true voice of the people. Despite the unity of the positions of these two parties on the main issues of the domestic and foreign policy of the United States, they do have some differences in political tactics, tools, and methods, to which their leaders and functionaries resort in an attempt to secure a victory over their opponents. Thus, because of the political game of the parties, the country’s policy makes mistakes that affect the life of the American society.
The electoral process causes difficulties in terms of the political power execution. President Obama believes that the US has systemic political problems that reduce the effectiveness of the authorities. Politicized cutting of constituencies has led to a situation when the population of certain districts is either 80% Democratic or 80% Republican that excludes the competition. This issue leads to the greater polarization in Congress and exacerbates the political state of the American society.
The weakening political influence of the parties is associated with the evolution of the ideological and political systems of the two major U.S. political parties, or in other words, the search for a new identity in new the social and political conditions. Researchers note that most Americans do not trust political parties and question their role. Moreover, politicians and party leaders are almost never positively presented in the media. In other words, the U.S. political party experiences the loss of an image. Americans hold the belief that the political parties are more interested in achieving own goals than the public good and, thus, create unnecessary conflicts.
An objective reason affecting the weakening party system is the feature of the constitutional order of the United States. Despite the absence of any provisions governing the activities of political parties or establishing the legal framework of the United States in the Constitution, the document has a number of institutional arrangements that limit the influence of political parties. Federalism, separation of powers (with a large degree of independence of each branch), constitutional supervision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the fixed terms for the office of the President, senators, and the House of Representatives have been supposed to prevent the possibility of extensions of factions and restrict the sphere of influence of the factions with the majority of votes. One of the main principles of the use of power in the country’s constitutional system has a significant influence on the U.S. political system.
The two major U.S. political parties are based on the state of the party structures, whose main task is to protect the interests of their region. The provisions of some Constitution Sections provide that both the House and the Senate shall consist of members and senators elected by various states, respectively. Thus, the Congress is composed of the representatives of independent states. In addition, the House of Representatives and senators organize their election campaigns independently and manage all associated issues, including their financing. The result is that in the course of their activities, congressmen are geared primarily to their constituents, the interest groups that finance election campaigns, and own interests. In other words, the interests of the groups guiding the re-election of the Congress members for a new term are in priority as compared to the interests and desires of the party leaders and the President. Meanwhile, the interests of local character are in priority over the interests of the nation-wide scale. It is a factual situation today. However, the most important element for the votes is a personal characteristic, rather than the party affiliation.
The problem of the power separation is one of the key issues for the weakening political influence. The consequence of a divided government is the lack of opportunity to delegate responsibility and accountability of the state apparatus as one of the main requisites of the democracy in the American system of governance. The President can blame the Congress; the Congress may bring charges to the President while the public remains confused and disgusted by the governance model. A normal and healthy competition between political parties turns into an unhealthy and relaxed conflict between different government institutions. In spite of the absence of the delegation of responsibility, the success of the American economy is usually associated with the policy pursued by the President, by the Democrats’ vision, or the activities of the Republican Congress, by the Republicans’ vision. The general weakening of political parties leads to the fact that the united party leadership cannot ensure an effective operation of the ruling coalition. Meanwhile, the separation of the political control is not an insurmountable obstacle to the development of sound policies for the benefit of the American society. Researchers have increasingly raised the questions about the need to form a bipartisan coalition that would support the White House in passing the legislative initiatives through the Congress.
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The modern trend is that the voters mainly rely on the information about the candidates provided by the media and own opinion about the candidate. The party has ceased to be the main link between the voters and leaders chosen by them. Today, parties have a weak position in the modern electoral politics. Such traditional organizations as trade unions or a municipal party machine do not longer operate as before, largely because the voters themselves have already changed. American voters increasingly comprise individuals with traditional political and organizational loyalties that establish their existing connection based on the information received from the media. They will not vote for any candidate only at the behest of a major figure. As a result, if a voter is not satisfied with any of the candidates, he or she will not come to vote at all. A high percentage of absenteeism is yet another confirmation of the weakening American party system.
The weakening power and influence of the political parties is a common and understandable consequence of the processes that have preceded this tendency. Opposite intentions of the two main U.S. parties and their mutual hostility have misbalanced the views of the entire society on a number of important socio-economic issues. The American participation in military conflicts, financial benefits, and the dual division of power have discredited the positions of the political in the opinion of the voters. In addition, their sentiments and participation in the election have also become the factors influencing the loss of political power in society.